Yes, it is true that people from a similar class and religious backgrounds do tend to have more successful marriages and relationships. It is a big plus to have similarities in your personal history and to have interests in common. The compatibilities that bring them together are the factors that tend to be predominant in people’s awareness.
When a person feels a strong attraction to another, they make up stories in their mind about what is causing the attraction. Often the story is about physical attractiveness or shared interests. This is only part of the story and may not even be the most important part. There is another dynamic, that is less easy to identify, that is going on in an unconscious way, percolating below the surface of awareness. Complimentary, the deeper force at work, magnetizes us to a particular individual among the vast array of possible partners.
There is a deep intuitive knowing that brings us to partners that are in many ways quite different than we are. Some deep, wise knowing part of us senses the strengths that the desired individual has, that lie dormant in ourselves, and we want those strengths.
The Drive for Wholeness
It is the inner drive for mastery that recognizes with great excitement, the possibility for growth if we were to partner with them. Here are some examples of attraction. One partner:
- is more adventurous and the other is more interested in comfort, predictability, and security.
- is conflict-avoidant, while the other is more at ease with debate and expression of strong feelings.
- is introverted, and knows the importance of solitude, silence, inner looking, and being alone without being lonely, while the extravert knows the importance of expressing their inner life, socializing friendships, and the tremendous importance of connection.
- tends to live in their feelings and intuition and the other is strong in mental functioning.
- is more contemplative and the other is action-oriented.
- is artistically inclined and the other is practical.
- plans for the future and the other is spontaneous and lives in the present moment.
- prizes relationships and the other is achievement-oriented.
- is passive and the other is assertive, or even aggressive.
- is dedicated to spiritual practice and the other is worldly.
These are only a few examples of the ways in which partners complement each other. If the differences are too great, they can become a source of pain. But when awareness of the differences is held as an opportunity to grow, they are seen with a positive orientation. There is excitement about engaging in the discovery and the potential that can be developed over time.
Since no matter how well-matched we are in the background, there are inevitably going to be differences, we might as well use them to our advantage. We can either deny the differences, try to make our partner more like us (which won’t work either), or use the differences as a growth opportunity. In a dynamic, evolving relationship, these are the traits that may be lying dormant that are stimulated by our partner so that we can become more of who we can be.
Shadow Work is Required
Those underdeveloped parts lay hidden in the shadows. To find them, and allow them to come out into the light is called “shadow work.” If there are traits in ourselves that we have disowned for fear that they could harm us in some way, we will be intolerant of those very traits in others. Our reactivity points directly at the shadow work awaiting us. Our work is to face those parts of ourselves and to befriend them.
This process of discovery is exciting and stimulating. Even those couples who have been together for many years keep finding more hidden aspects of themselves emerging. The process is filled with the fascination of discovery of aspects of the self and aspects of other, a process that keeps love fresh and alive and that’s about as good as it gets.