The idea of it is daunting.
Imagine choosing one person in your twenties or thirties, getting to know them for eighteen months or two years and then committing to share your lives together forever. Through good times and bad, failure and success, happiness and sadness, the plan is to stick together.
Absurd as this concept is to the clear-eyed, it works. People make this institution a success and go on to have children who make it a success; that, BTW, adds an additional layer of stress and complexity unimagined at the start.
What’s the secret? Why do we long to make this happen, and how do we claim some of the magic for ourselves?
I wonder if the key isn’t flexibility. Our vision of two people merging into one isn’t helpful. A better simile might be of two dolphins moving together through the ocean. Our dolphins move in generally the same direction, sometimes side-by-side, sometimes in looser formation. Oftentimes they know when the other will change direction, and they change direction instantly or, when they get the picture, after a while. They hang around in the same area playing together, but not necessarily with each other, and they always have their mate’s back.
The two of them are individuals, but it’s clear that even if they’re apart, they remain together…a fact acknowledged by them and their tribe.
That’s a long way of suggesting that flexibility in the face of change might be an under-represented part of the secret to success. Whomever changes must help the other to join them on the path, that’s their responsibility. Whomever is being helped must absorb the change and do their best to keep up.
Obvious caveats about legality, morality and danger apply, but recognizing that we all change is a big step. It opens the door.