Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Carolyn: My wife and I married young, and lately Ive been wondering how we can ever be sure about each other without having had other experiences. I guess this is a cautionary tale about early marriage. We knew each other well at the time and, as weve gotten older, have continued to grow together, not apart. I love her as a person and partner. She is my best friend.
But, I dont know if I feel the same way romantically. I also dont know if this is just because I didnt experience enough other people before we got married, leading me to wonder what else could have been. Or am I unfairly comparing ours to what I imagine other relationships to be? Does passion just cool the longer were together? Is that normal, and do I just have unrealistic expectations? Would I be giving up something great (a life with this woman I love and respect) just to see what its like out there?
MARRIED AND WONDERING
I can only take your word for it that youve grown together and you still love her. If indeed that describes life with your wife, though, then youve got something enviable.
Now, enviable doesnt mean much if you dont want it yourself; what other people want is irrelevant. However, the image of the lifelong, passionate romance is largely unrealistic. The only reason I wont say its completely unrealistic is that the occasional couple do appear to look at each other that way decades into their journey.
But even then, no one knows what goes on behind closed doors, and no one knows what prices have been paid to get to that point.
All I can do is give you thinking points:
(1) No ones immune to what youre feeling, not even those who wait.
(2) Chances are, upon closer inspection, the lives of others will persuade you that your life is the only one you want.
(3) A reliable remedy for the what-ifs that wont risk harm to your best friend: Keep your life interesting and exciting in other ways.
(4) Passion isnt just there or not there; it can be nurtured through attention.
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