Finding Mr. or Mrs. Right
Saanich News, March 15, 2006
Paul Beckow M.Sc. R.P.C.
Individual couple and Family Counsellor
I’m 28 years old and I’ve been with my boyfriend over 3 years. When the topic of our future comes up I get panicky. I feel overwhelmed with uncertainty. How do I know if he is the right person? How does anyone know if they’ve found the right person.?
What a great question. Yes, how do you ever know if you’ve found the right person?
My reply? There is no right person.
And, if they are the right one, I can assure you that once you are together for a while they will become the wrong one. This is the nature of relationship.
To quote Will Rogers: “It doesn’t much matter whom one marries for you are sure to find out the next morning that it was someone else!”
So what’s going on here?
Every marriage therapist will tell you that disappointment is the aftermath of romance, that when we marry the ideals and mood of romance quickly give way to the conditions of reality. Couples experience disillusionment. Conflicts, differences, appear.
“He doesn’t make me feel the way he used to. I want… I need… If he would only…”x” then Id feel more loved, safe, cared for. Something is wrong here.”
In short, the Prince ( Princess ) turns into a Frog. From this point on the real work of relationship begins.
Experiencing frustrations and dissatisfactions, many couples enter the next stage in relationship with a new plan. “ I know, I’ll change or fix or improve her/ him. Then I’ll feel loved and taken care of !“
This is the stage of relationship known as the power struggle and includes the sense of entanglement and defensiveness that people experience when they feel blamed.
Our style of communication becomes important during this stage because, without being careful, we do harm to one another.
At this point most people could pause to ask themselves “ What is relationship trying to teach me here? What is it I don’t yet understand?” But many don’t. Rather, some decide “I have the wrong person!”
Now the relationship is really in trouble !
It is a little like climbing up a difficult mountain and half way up the side of the mountainside, with it’s steep and challenging terrain, you suddenly decide, “ I never liked mountain climbing and I’m on the wrong mountain!”
Uncertainty robs us of personal power. The job of climbing a mountain ( or being in a marriage ) is challenging enough without, along the way, deciding you hate the sport and you’re on the wrong rock face. The challenge couple’s face (resolving conflict) requires commitment and attention not uncertainty.
So, Susan, there is not really a “right person” or “wrong person” to find. Having the right one or the wrong one is a “function of your consideration” alone. More accurately it’s like, you marry them, and then you make them the right one - or the wrong one.
To make your partner the right one, requires lots of skill – attending to your regard for the other, making daily practicalities work, resolving conflict wholesomely , taking care of your well being. Here lies the challenge and the magic of creating relationship together.
But back to your question. If you mean “I’ve been with my boyfriend now for over three years, how do I decide, yes or no, to marrying them? How does someone make that important decision?” That’s a different question.
Regarding that question, here’s what I’d do.
Like buying a car, I’d test it out. I’d spend lots of time together. I’d definitely go on a few holidays. Visit their families. Spend time with their friends.
Then I’d ask myself a few simple questions like: Do I admire and respect this person’s way of being in life. How well do we “work” ( solve problems ) together? Do we share some strong interests? Do I really like spending time with him or her? How does my heart answer these questions?
Really see this person as your future, imagine it, try it on, feel it. Again, what does your heart say? You’ll get your answer.
If you get a yes, then choose yes. If you get a no or uncertainty then say no. If it’s a no and if you want a life partner, move on quickly to make room for that new person to appear.
However, once you say yes, you are responsible for your YES. Now your job is to make the one you chose the “right one”. Within this commitment, relationship becomes a daring adventure.
Paul Beckow is a certified individual, marriage, and family therapist. If you have a relationship, personal issue or concern, he can be reached by phoning the Victoria Family Institute at 721 2477 or contacted through his web site at www.paulbeckow.com.
For personal or couple counselling, for more information, or to register for a course - please contact Paul Beckow at The Victoria Family Institute.