Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Having no trouble in six-year relationship troubles her
High-class Problem: Maybe I'm looking for trouble, but this does nag at me some in the back of my head . . . I've been with my fiance for six years, living together for three. The problem is that there are no problems. We've never had any real issues (beyond his loading the dishwasher completely incorrectly . . . ).
Given that people constantly say maintaining relationships is supposed to be hard, are we just lucky? Extremely compatible? Extremely laid-back? Don't care enough to argue? Or just have yet to hit any sort of rough patch?
I sort of worry that if we ever are tested, I have no idea how we would handle it. Obviously I can't hold off the wedding until something bad happens to see what occurs. So I guess my question is, how uncommon is my situation? Do most people have a lot of issues to work through before getting married? Is it naive to think a good relationship could just be this easy?
Carolyn: What's your past like — have you had any significant relationships that were extremely rocky?
If it's either "every single one has been rocky" or "I have zero prior relationship experience," then either one would explain why you're unsure of what you have.
High-class Problem Again: I've not really had many serious relationships — and I think that's where my concern comes in. I think a lot of the reasons we don't have problems are perfectly healthy: We agree on the big things and we are both our own people and happy with ourselves, therefore are happy to let each other go our own ways on activities we enjoy.
But seriously, no problems? No arguments? It seems a little weird. Maybe it's just me being pessimistic but I feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Carolyn: If you're holding back on a big part of who you are, or if you get the sense that he is holding himself back to please you, then the other shoe probably will drop. All it takes is one of you caving to please the other: That makes your "compatibility" forced or false, and therefore unlikely to last.
Less intriguing but just as common is boredom; if you get along only because you're both sleepwalking, then that's untenable, too. Imagine you're dogs — do you still wag when you see each other?
There is such thing as a couple who don't really fight, who have an easy, almost effortless compatibility. It's rare, but it happens. So give yourself the am-I-rationalizing-something-big test; the more brutally honest you are with yourself, the more you can trust the results.
D.C.: What, specifically, is this test and how do we administer it?
Carolyn: Okay. Try this: Is there something you're afraid to say out loud to your mate? That usually takes you right to the sweet spot.
Often your can't-say-it-out-loud issue is minor, and you wouldn't consider breaking up over it — say, you don't like his cooking.
But if there is a breakup-worthy issue lurking in your mind somewhere, this is where it's hiding. It's in the thoughts and conversations you're trying not to have.