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COLUMN: There is no 'ideal' mate

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By John Lapp

What happens when your partner does not measure up to your expectations? How does this happen, especially when at the beginning of the relationship, the thoughts were much different than they are now?
Maybe you…
•Yearn for a mate and marriage that fits your ideal more closely, that measures up to your hopes and dreams...
•Are frustrated with your mate’s failure to share your interests as you think an ideal mate should...
•Regret your choice of a mate though you may not admit it even to yourself...
•Sometimes consider the ultimate solution: separate from your spouse and find someone who measures up to your ideal.
Well, you may want to consider this:
the perfect mate cannot be found. Maybe they have all been taken.
Most every spouse is married to someone that disappoints them in an important way. So changing spouses or trying to alter the one you have will not result in the ideal relationship, no matter what you do.
Many carry images of an ideal mate from either their youth or some other mental picture from some book or movie of what the perfect mate should be and do.  But, when romantic illusions yield to the factors of reality, the spouse inevitably does not measure up to the ideal.  When this happens, there can be a sense of disappointment and feeling cheated.  And, when the disappointed mate makes a decided effort to recreate the partner into the ideal mate, frustration will likely increase.
When this effort is engaged in, the couple may be heading into a lifetime of hassling, blaming, nagging, demanding, threatening and pressuring with whatever measures can be found.  
Some however, resort to simply suffering silently and enduring the disappointments.  In either way, there is a likelihood of chronic dissatisfaction along with a lot of frustration.
And then, some decide to end the marriage and now begin a search for a different mate who, this time, may measure up to the ideal.
As earlier stated, this ideal person, more than likely, does not exist, cannot be found. However, the search will sometimes lead through a series of partners resulting in further disappointments and, perhaps, growing loneliness, frustration and maybe cynicism with the effort becoming increasingly self-defeating.
What’s the answer?  It may seem to be difficult to achieve, but, to be honest this “ideal” must ultimately yield to maturity.  Perhaps, one needs to do some self-evaluation to determine why this search continues, especially when I may not be the ideal partner myself. We each need to accept our differences, and stop attempting to recreate the ideal.
One of the important things I attempt to do when evaluating the struggles that spouses have with each other is to take a good, hard, look at what are the strengths, traits, characteristics and things that they like about each other and concentrate on enjoying what is good and not looking at the areas that are the disappointments.
Try looking at how to enrich your marriage by seeing how you can change yourself in relation to your partner.  Resist the temptation, no matter how enticing it may seem in the long run, in an attempt to get your marriage to become what you consider to be the ideal.
Try to focus and make the most of what you already have, especially as it relates to eventually finding someone else and leaving the marriage to begin that search.  In my many years, now numbering 42 years in private practice, I have heard many heartbreaking stories of regret that in the search for the ideal new partner, people eventually  discover that the ideal could not be found.
I have heard statements similar to the following, “I regret leaving my partner while believing I had finally found the right partner, only to eventually discover that the partner I left was all I really needed and wanted...I just didn’t realize it until it was too late.”
Free yourself from becoming a victim of the lack of the ideal mate, and/or the shortcomings in your marriage. Try to focus on what you can enjoy in your partner and attempt to make the most of what you may already have in common.  Maybe you can enjoy what works, rather than suffer with what doesn’t.
For more information, call me at 477-2818, or write an e-mail to johnlapp36@yahoo.com.