Can a Marriage be too Harmonious?



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,

even illness.

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.



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