No two marriages are completely alike. It's a fact. Ask anyone on the planet who has been married more than two minutes and they can tell you that. When two people with different backgrounds and thoughts and feelings come together to make a family, the result is never the same. That's kind of the beauty of marriage, isn't it? The opportunity to make something new and unique with the man or woman of your choosing?
As true as that may be (and it is), it is also true that marriages often fall into "types." How your marriage functions within that type may be all your own, but the outward appearance and even some of the inside dynamics can often fall into one of eight distinct categories.
We asked the experts to define the 8 types of marriages. Which one sounds the most like yours?
1.) Sharing is caring marriage: Ah, the "open" marriage. From the outside it looks like so much fun, right? Sleep around. Get your kicks, but have your marriage, too.
No way, says Dr. Dylan Thrasher, a life and relationship coach who believes so-called "open" marriages often crash and burn. "This pair do not really belong together, but convince themselves and others that they do because they're so 'progressive' and 'open-minded' while they just want to sleep with other people , plain and simple," he says. True? Who knows. But I wouldn't test it.
2.) Mash-up marriage: Did you ever have that friend who dumped you every time a new man arrived on the scene? Yes. We all have. These women then often enter into THIS kind of marriage.
"[These couples] say, do, think, and act as one, making it hard for their unique and separate selves to thrive," says Dr. Jeanette Raymond, a psychologist and the author of Now You Want Me, Now You Don't! Fear of Intimacy. "The world doesn't exist outside their bubble. They die soon after one another. This marriage is based on fear of being separate and thinking for oneself. Sex almost doesn't matter because they are already inside one another."
3.) Mommy marriage: You know those couples where the wife is constantly chiding the husband in a loving but exasperated manner? Yep. Me too. And there are SO many of them.
"The partner playing the child role is usually wanting to be taken care of and not be an equal," says Raymond. "The hallmark of this type of marriage is conflict, dissatisfaction, and an emphasis on who is being 'naughty' and 'good.'"
4.) Sibling marriage: Have you ever had a couple over to dinner who just don't seem to be on the same page? They bicker constantly and everything is tit for tat? Does it remind you of your kids? If so, then they might be in this kind of marriage.
"They argue over any and everything in an effort to 'win' the point and feel superior," says Raymond. These kinds of marriages are obviously very unhealthy, but all too common. Worse? "When they do have sex, it's a way of demonstrating power and status in the relationship. Emotional closeness is absent." Yikes.
5.) Business marriage: This is another common type of marriage. It's often one that either formed in order to have children or after having children.
"They divide jobs, responsibilities, and child care, while holding each other accountable," Raymond says. "It's based on duty and obligation. It's impersonal with little emotional connection."
6.) Suffocating marriage: In this kind of marriage, there is very little room for outside influence? Close friends? Not so much. It's you and me FOREVER, baby. You know it. You've seen it.
"Jealousy, suspicion, lack of trust, and demands are the norm," Raymond says. "Each person is treated as a personal belonging without feelings or a mind of their own. There are a lot of challenges thrown out, stand-offs, posing, and threats made. Emotional intimacy doesn't exist."
7.) Obedient marriage: "In this type of marriage, the couple swap
roles constantly," Raymond says. "One takes on the role of task master and judge, critical of the other, ordering them to behave in certain ways that prove obedience. The other complies with resentment and then builds up rage to take on the master role, forcing the partner to now prove his/her obedience. The rule in this marriage is: Love equals blind obedience. There is little empathy, tolerance, or understanding. Sex is used as a weapon to force compliance. Fear of intimacy is the hallmark of this marriage."
Sound bad? It's worse.
8.) Two-car garage marriage: This is the best sort of marriage, say both Raymond and Thrasher.
"They have their own friends and hobbies and show interest in each other's ventures. But they make joint decisions about their home, share jobs -- not impose them -- and value each one's contribution as it ebbs and flows," Raymond says. "They are flexible enough to allow for differences and close enough to enjoy similarities."
Or, as Thrasher puts it:"Some 80-year-olds today have this. They walk around hand-in-hand, a true testament to love and devotion."
Sound nice? It is.
The truth is, all of us have probably had our marriages resemble more than one of these types at some point. I've been married for a while, and I'm sure, in some unhealthy times, we've fallen into some of the less-than-positive categories. But right now? We are a two-car garage. And it's as amazing as they say.
What kind of marriage do you have?
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