Things were different then.
When you first met your spouse, you were looking for a certain something. Now that you’re years (perhaps even decades) into your marriage, that search has evolved into something else.
In this episode of The Loving Truth podcast, you’ll learn about how what you’ve sought from your relationship has changed since its beginning. I’ll also teach you why this unfolding process can sometimes lead to looking for something outside of your relationship (in the form of an affair).
Listen to the Full Episode:
What You’ll Learn In This Episode:
0:27 – What you’re really looking for at the beginning of a relationship
1:52 – How your relationships resemble Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
5:47 – What we reach for next in a relationship once we have what we want (and why it isn’t wrong)
9:28 – Can your relationship evolve into this?
Featured On What You Wanted Since the Beginning of Your Marriage Has Changed
Struggling to decide whether to stay or go in your marriage and you’re serious about finding that answer?
Book a Truth & Clarity Session with a member of my team. We’ll discuss where you are in your marriage and explore if there’s a fit for you and I to work together so you can make - and execute - the RIGHT decision for YOU and your marriage.
Welcome to The Loving Truth Podcast where it's all about finding clarity, confidence, and peace in the face of marriage challenges. Now your host, relationship expert, and certified master life coach, Sharon Pope.
Sharon Pope: Hello, loves. This is Sharon Pope and this is The Loving Truth. I want to talk to you today about what you wanted in your marriage then versus what you want in your marriage today. Let's just go in the Wayback Machine for a second, shall we? I want you to think about what you're looking for in a partner when you were still single before you met your spouse.
Maybe you were in your 20s, early 30s. Maybe this is your first marriage or maybe it's your second marriage. It doesn't matter because ultimately, when we don't have a relationship, what we're looking for is some version of comfort, stability, safety, and predictability and someone who shares the same values that we do. That's what we're looking for. We're seeking resonance and resonance is about sameness, not differences.
Ultimately, what we are seeking is some version of safety. I want to know that I can feel safe with you, that I'm not going to get hurt by you. But then what we seek 20 to 30 years later in our most intimate relationship, once we're in our 40s, 50s, and 60s, looks and feels very different than what we wanted in our 20s and 30s, doesn't it, ladies? That's how it works.
I want to talk about it because nothing has gone wrong. We've got to get better at anticipating that, of course, what we want in our marriage is going to look and feel very, very different in our 20s and 30s than it does in our 40s, 50s, and beyond.
I want to take you back to Maslow's hierarchy. Remember that fancy little thing you learned about in school forever ago that said that at the base of that hierarchy, we need things like air, water, food, and shelter? We can't think about anything else.
If we don't have air, water, food, and shelter, we're not thinking about how to find the love affair of our lives or we're not thinking about how to become more self-actualized. We're not even thinking about how to have the best health we can have or the greatest job we can have.
First things first, we need the basics, air, water, food shelter, then we can go reaching for personal security, employment, health, and property. Then once we have that, that's when we can reach for love and belonging, friendship, intimacy, family, and a sense of connection. Once we have that, that's when we can reach for self-esteem, respect, strength and freedom. Then once we have that, that's when we can reach for this idea of self-actualization of becoming the most that I can possibly be.
That's the idea of the hierarchy. What I want to propose is that there is a similar hierarchy inside of our relationships. When we do not have a relationship, what we are looking for is resonance, that sameness that we are looking for, safety, stability, predictability, comfort. We reach for all of those things before we ever reach for desire, passion, and a sense of feeling alive, intimate, connected, and filled with pleasure of our experience. There's this hierarchy.
Let's just walk through it. At the very base layer is security. What we're looking for is safety and stability, predictability, comfort, common goals, and shared values. That's sort of the baseline. If we don't have that, we can't reach for a lot of the other things that would be in that relationship hierarchy.
The second step would be what I would call warmth. There's trust there. There's friendship. There's respectful, honest communication. There's appreciation, and there's a sense of we matter. As a couple, we prioritize ourselves because we know that this relationship matters.
The third step, once you have those things, then you can reach for enjoyment. Things like fun and adventure, things that are interesting, spontaneous, and more exciting. Many of us today, we think of fun as an indulgence as opposed to an integral part of our experience. We have to feel safe and then we have to feel a sense of trust, warmth, comfort there, friendship, and respect. Then we can reach for enjoyment and things that are fun, exciting, and interesting.
From that place, that's when we can reach a sense of real intimacy. What I mean by that is connection, affection, vulnerability, having open honest communication, even when the conversations are very, very difficult. We're willing to sit through the difficult conversations and be with the difficulty in those conversations so that we might remain or become closer.
Then once we have that real sense of intimacy, that's when we can reach for passion, desire, pleasure, and this exploration of what we can become together as a couple. That's the peak moment and everyone wants the peak. What I want you to realize is that what you were looking for when you first met your spouse, let's call it 20, 30 years ago, was very different than what you need today because once we have the basic needs covered, that's when we go reaching for what's next.
We go reaching for passion and adventure and we can see what's missing: fun, desire, and intimacy. We can see what's missing in the relationship. What I want you to be able to realize is that once we have something, call it safety, comfort, and predictability, we don't value it as much, do we? We don't appreciate often the things that we have.
We don't focus on the appreciation of what we do have, we focus on what is missing. Then we question the entire relationship because what it is that we're reaching for next is missing. We think, “Well, if it's not inherently there, then I can never have it with this person.”
That is not true because we are, as human beings, always reaching for more and reaching for next, and your partner probably is too, whether they're actively doing it or they're aware of it or not, that might be two different things. But I would just offer that once we have something like call it predictability, predictability is not sexy, it's just the basis that without that, it's really hard to have a stable relationship.
The bottom of that hierarchy is much broader because it needs to be more stable in order to build more things on top of it. What I want you to know is nothing has gone wrong here. What you wanted in your 20s and 30s, of course, it's going to look different than in your 40s and 50s.
What you wanted early in your relationship is not going to look the same as what you want after you've been married 20 or 30 years. This is normal. I think we should expect it. I think we should even nurture it and go looking for it as opposed to waiting for issues to arise and then assuming that the relationship is inherently broken and flawed because I can't have the connection that I crave.
I will tell you, I have never once met someone in their 20s who says to me, “You know what I really want in a relationship? Passion and connection, lasting connection. That's really what I want and adventure. I want that.” No, they're looking for shared values. They're looking for stability, they're looking for security and predictability and they want to be able to trust, and all those sorts of baseline level of relationship ingredients.
If we could predict a little better, like, “Oh, now that we have this, here's what we need to be reaching for,” we really need to stop getting stuck at the friendzone and then reaching for “We need to have more fun together. We need more life being inserted, we need more excitement, spontaneity, and novelty being inserted into our relationship in order to keep it interesting. Then from there, we can reach for intimacy and all the goodness that comes with that. Then from there, we can reach for what can we really create? How good can this really feel?”
I wanted to offer that because I think it makes sense in the concept of Maslow's hierarchy for our lives but I think it also makes sense inside of our relationships as well. Nothing has gone wrong. Of course, what you want and need in your most intimate relationship today looks and feels very different.
Now the question is: Can this relationship evolve to encompass that? I'm not asking do you have it today because I already know that answer. I'm asking “Can we evolve the relationship to a place where it does encompass what it is that you really want?” Because I believe you get to want whatever you want. You get to want it but you will also have a hand in creating it.
Instead of trying to find the guy who's going to give you that thing, like oftentimes, you've probably heard the saying, “When there's an affair partner, maybe he hits the passion button like nobody's business. But he can't hold down a job to save his life.” He's got the passion piece covered, maybe even the intimacy piece covered, but he doesn't have the stability upon which to build a healthy relationship.
We just have to reach for what's the next rung on this ladder or in this hierarchy so that we can continue to reach for what's next and cultivate what it is that you really want to feel and experience in your most intimate relationship after you've been in it for, I don't know, a few decades.
You're doing great. Nothing's gone wrong. But let's answer the question: Can the relationship evolve so that it encompasses all the beautiful things that you really do want? Until next time, take good care.
If you're listening to this podcast because you're struggling to decide whether to stay or go in your marriage, and you're serious about finding that answer, it's time to book a Truth & Clarity Session with a member of my team. On the call, we'll discuss where you are in your marriage and explore if there's a fit for you and I to work together so you can make and execute the right decision for you and your marriage. Go to clarityformymarriage.com to fill out an application now.