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Q:  “Love is driving me crazy! I’ve been with my fiancé for 10 years. He’s left me eight times, then immediately begs me to take him back. There is never anyone else involved. We love each other desperately but can’t seem to get over the small hurdles. He has a temper, and I have no patience. He likes to travel, but I’m a homebody. I want kids, but he likes our freedom. We fight furiously and make up madly. How does love finally settle into peacefulness?”

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Joyce’s FIX: You’ve come a long way not to be very far.

        It’s not uncommon for couples to love but not always like one another. However, I contend the “like” is essential if love is to be balanced, fulfilling, and lasting. Opposites do attract, we know, but there must be common ground and interests in order to create the type of commitment you’re seeking. The love-lots-like-less formula might be fine for platonic relationships, but for lovers, it’s nice to have your significant other participate in your passions and pleasures in life. One thing is for certain: Love is much more appetizing without constant chaos. Eight major breakups in 10 years’ time definitely fits into the category of too much drama and not enough stability.

        Looking for peacefulness and contentment is a good beginning for redirecting your relationship. I’m sorry it took you this long to reset the dial. Here are a few suggestions for your new beginning.

  1.      Recognize the biggest problem. No doubt, you’ve captured a few issues that need addressing. Get a pulse on this major one and you’ll be well on your path to peace: Selfishness. It’s a huge problem with most couples — actually, most individuals. Each of you needs to take your “self” and put it on a shelf. You both need to keep in mind the philosophy I teach every couple I mentor — “you are more important than I am.” Get your focus off of your likes and dislikes, your wants and wishes, and concentrate more on what pleases the other and how you can meet the needs of the one you love. It’s a tried-and-proven formula for success in any relationship.
  2.      Tackle the obvious. There are definite issues that need attention. If you haven’t sought counseling and/or mentoring, I would encourage you not to waste any more time. His temper versus your lack of patience and travel versus homebody are two extremes. Anger and exasperation are musts to control in any relationship wanting to survive; therefore, it’s high on the list of things to confront. You could certainly meet in the middle with his adventurous spirit set against your need for being at home. Agree to divide the time equally with no protests and then decide to be creative in your time spent together, regardless of where you hang your hat at the end of the day.
  3.      Wait on the kids. Your relationship is certainly not ready for  children to enter the picture. (Yes, it appears to have a couple already in the mix.) So, wait until you are both beyond your troublesome time, you’ve decided to outgrow your stubborn pride and selfish ideology, and have actually gotten married before even considering a child. Everyone will be happier if you two learn to like as well as love each other, especially your children.
  4.      Lose the pattern. One or both of you must draw a line in the sand and decide the next break-up is for keeps. Don’t be fooled into believing marriage will change things. It doesn’t. It seems only to exacerbate flaws. A heartache is a heartache is a heartache, don’t get me wrong. But when real commitment is in place, it seriously complicates a heartache. It is time for “the” talk where you both decide “we’re not doing this again.” Working on steps 1 and 2 should begin to diminish any desire for him to walk out and you to keep taking him back. Keep stacking up these incidents as the years tick away and you will surely invite a huge regret of not seeing the handwriting on the wall sooner.

Relationships can and should be peaceful. If they’re not, what good are they? It’s not to say a couple won’t have differences. They will be frustrated, aggravated, and consternated at some point during their course of time together. However, the moments of contentment should far outweigh the turbulence. When done properly, you’ll still be crazy, but crazy in love.

Struggling with a relationship issue? Write Joyce Oglesby, Family Life FIX-IT Pro at justaskjoyce@gmail.com and find a solution for life.  And, if you’re tempted to give up on love, ask yourself these three questions

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