“Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t yet know who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully omitted to investigate.”
Alain de Botton – Why You Will Marry The Wrong Person*
As I have previously mentioned Allan and Barbara Pease in their book ‘The Mating Game’ suggest that when selecting a partner whether we are aware of it or not, our choices are needs based along gender lines. Men will tend to seek services whilst women will seek resources. At the level of teamwork love, the success of the partnership will not depend on who does what in the relationship, but rather on the perceived fairness of the distribution of those services and resources.
Teamwork love is where the relationship stabilises with an allocation of roles and responsibilities. It is likely that the pair will appoint a dominant partner who will act in the leadership role. Usually this is the man but it doesn’t have to be. There are many women who have a strong masculine side who may take on the leadership role, particularly if their partner has a well, developed feminine side.
Love relationships can also start at the team work stage if people consciously decide to seek partners to compliment their existing skills and qualities. Otherwise teamwork love emerges when romantic love has waned and the partners decide to stay together.
Some characteristics of teamwork love include:
- Two people can achieve together more than one
- Roles and responsibilities clearly allocated within the relationship.
- A division of services and resources
- A problem solving process which will assist the partners to make decisions
- An ability to be able to give and receive feedback regarding the parties behaviour
- A leader probably but not always appointed along gender lines
One of the best descriptions of team work love is given by Allan and Barbara Pease who are well qualified to talk about relationships which work because not only are they in a lasting relationship but also work together.
In their book ‘The Mating Game’ they make the comment that:
‘All studies into what makes for lasting relationships have come to the same conclusion – those that endure do so because they have the same or similar core values and beliefs’.
They list these core values as:
- Attitudes to raising children and to discipline
- The division of chores and responsibilities
- Finances – what, where and how money has been spent
- Cleanliness and living standards
- Social and family – involvement, activities and frequency
- Sex and intimacy – who needs what and what will be given
And the core beliefs as:
- Spiritual and religious
- Political and cultural
The Pease’s go on to say:
‘There is no such thing as a compatible couple. Most couples disagree about the same things: money, sex, kids and time. A successful long term relationship is about having chemistry, similar core values and beliefs and about how you manage your differences. You create compatibility’.
Just looking at housework Alice Feinstein, Editor, BBC Radio 4, Woman’s Hour says:
“Woman’s Hour has always been interested in exploring the reality of people’s daily lives and now we are shining a light on who’s doing what at home and finding out how they feel about it. This survey suggests household chores are a source of strife for some couples.
Building on this presenter Jane Garvey says:
“Times have changed. Women are no longer trapped in the home. They can go out to work then come back and start the housework”.
Talking of research that his company ComRes had conducted into gender and the distribution of housework, Adam Ludlow adds:
“These results indicate there is a clear divide between the sexes when it comes to housework. It’s also interesting to note that in polls of this kind, men tend to be bolder in their claims often leading to overestimation whereas women tend to be more cautious and err on the side of underestimation.”
A cautionary note on teamwork love comes from the old mistress giving advice to the young wife,
‘A wife who falls in love with the ordering process as if that in itself filled up life’s purpose, smothers her marriage in logistics’
In talking to hundreds of men over the past few years one thing I have been struck by is the need that they have for adventure. It would seem that a lot of men who have been married for many years, love their wives and family and don’t want to jeopardise their lifestyle. However they don’t seem to be having the level of sex that they would like and they are bored. They are crying out for adventure.
In Advice to a Young Wife from an Old Mistress the mistress says that
‘Adventure is as needful to the real life of the spirit as food is to the body.
‘Now life is so largely a spectator sport that the senses are starved and it is still true that the devil makes work for idle hands.’
If the ‘spark’ has gone and the relationship has become mundane and routine, if one or both of the partners feel bored and or undervalued, they may seek adventure outside the relationship or may leave altogether
Referring to this need for adventure, Michael Foley in ‘The Age of Absurdity’ says:
The prince in Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s, “The Leopard” describes love as ‘a year of fire followed by thirty years of ashes and goes to prostitutes for pleasure. In the contemporary world a popular alternative would be adultery, the adventure tourism of the middle aged middle classes.
Men in particular need adventure and excitement to feel alive. In a teamwork relationships, this needs to be understood and built into their lives and of course women have unmet needs for adventure too.
So what is the answer to this problem that teamwork relationships can become boring? Well according to Alain de Botton in ‘The Course of Love” one answer is for partners to just understand that this is the case. Addressing the problem he writes
‘Were Rabih and Kirsten able to read about themselves as characters in a novel, they might…. experience a brief but helpful burst of pity at their not unworthy plight, and thereby perhaps to dissolve some of the tension that arises on those evenings when, once the children are in bed, the apparently demoralising and yet in truth deeply grand and significant topic of ironing comes up’.
He goes on to say:
Having fallen deeply in love, the couple “will marry, they will suffer, they will frequently worry about money, they will have a girl first, then a boy, one of them will have an affair, there will be passages of boredom, they’ll sometimes want to murder one another and on a few occasions kill themselves. This will be the real love story ‘
As Francine Prose in a review of ‘The Course of Love’ in the Guardian** writes:
‘What is interesting is de Botton’s decision to make their experience so thoroughly ordinary that their lives seem emblematic, their stories interchangeable with those of countless couples’.
‘He is acutely perceptive about the rapidity with which moods change radically over the course of the a weekend; about the ease with which familiarity can blunt the edge of passion; about the ways in which a friends’ good fortune can make us question our own hard-won contentment; and about the complex predilections that determine the choices we make’.
I was in a teamwork relationship for many years and if I am honest I was not happy for a long time. Shortly before I found out about the events that caused the breakdown of my marriage, I remember sitting in the foyer of the Festival Hall in London and telling a friend that ‘I don’t know what I am getting out of this relationship’. For me any sense of balance in the partnership had disappeared and I felt completely bored by the relationship.
Coming back to where we started that marriage is a gamble ‘by two people who don’t yet know who they are or who the other might be’. For a relationship to succeed and evolve both parties need to take responsibility for their own happiness and address their own needs for development. This involves learning to accept themselves but also learning to accept the other as they are. You can’t expect them to change. If the partner chooses to change, that is a bonus and this joint development will allow them to move forward together.
I will talk about learning to love and accept yourself and in the process in learning to love and accept ‘the other’ in my next blog.
* Why You Will Marry The Wrong Person – Alain de Botton, July 8th, 2016, Dailylife.com
**The Guardian 28th April 2016
With thanks to Stella Pitman and Jo Grant for permission to use their beautiful photographs
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