TOO MUCH HARMONY?
What is a “good marriage”? How good does it have to be?
And what does “good” mean, anyway. Can a couple fight a lot
and still have a “good marriage”? What if they don’t fight
at all? Could they still have a “bad marriage”?
A good marriage means different things to different
people. For some, it may be enough that their spouse doesn’t
beat them, works regularly and doesn’t cheat. Maybe they
grew up with a parent who was violent, unreliable or
philandering. They may be grateful just to avoid that pain
and don’t ask for much more.
For others, the mere absence of abuse is not enough.
They may find themselves in a marriage that appears to be
“good” in all respects. Their spouse may be kind,
dependable, respectful and rich. Still, something feels
Some marriages are harmonious enough but fail to
satisfy. It may be that there is a underlying conflict which
is unacknowledged and unexpressed. Some marriages depend
upon constant harmony to exist at all. Introduction of a
conflict is seen as provocative and a betrayal of trust.
In this kind of marriage, if you have a complaint, you’d better
keep it to yourself. This can lead to frustration, depression,
In the best marriages, the ones that both last and are
satisfying, conflict is managed, not avoided. It is not
allowed to take over the relationship, but neither is it
suppressed. Partners are allowed, even encouraged, to say
exactly what they think and feel. They don’t lash out
ruthlessly, but neither do they pretend all is OK when it’s
not. Good marital, mental and even physical health are
facilitated when partners can say what they believe, even if
their spouse does not agree.
Even when partners are pretty well-matched, changes can
bring conflict. Change is difficult but necessary. Whether
a marriage is openly conflictual or relentlessly harmonious,
a marriage that is unable to adapt to changes like births,
economic ups and downs, departures of children and retirement
will become stressed.