When a landlord and a tenant sign a lease, they both know what they’re getting out of it. The tenant gets an apartment and the landlord gets rent. Both are getting something they want, something they didn’t have before they signed the lease. There’s a reason for their relationship.
What is the reason for your relationship with your romantic partner?
Why are you in this marriage? What does it add to your life? What can you do, together with this particular person, that you cannot accomplish alone, or with anyone else?
If you don’t know, then you’re in trouble. If you don’t have a reason, then there is nothing at stake.
People keep committed relationships for all kinds of reasons: for the laughs, for the sex, for the kids, the parents, to get elected. People stay so they can collude with one another, so they don’t have to face an uncomfortable truth, or so they can challenge each other to face those truths. People in committed relationships live longer, have more money, and have better mental health. They don’t have to travel alone, sleep alone, eat alone, grow old alone, and they have a standing date every Friday night. Some of these are compelling reasons, some aren’t; not all are sustainable, but, if you have no reasons, or you don’t know what they are, then what are you doing and why are you doing it?
You can put up with all kinds of things if you have a reason to do so. If you are enraged when he doesn’t put the toilet seat down or when she talks on the phone for an hour with her friend, then perhaps it’s not your partner’s behavior that is the problem, perhaps it’s the lack of a reason to be with them.
Sometimes the relationship is secondary to other goals you may have. What you really want to do is to write novels, complete medical school, rise to the top in politics or business, defend your dissertation. What you want out of a relationship is for it to stay out of the way or support those other goals. Maybe your goal to have children and a spouse is secondary and instrumental to that desire. You may just want to have it all: a successful career, marriage, and children. Even if that’s the case, you will still have to chose. A some point those interests will collide and then you’ll see which is really the priority.
So, what are your goals? Do you and your partner have them in common? Are they complimentary or do they clash?