If you are like most people, the title of this post probably grabbed your attention pretty quickly. After all, marriage counselors and relationship experts frequently tell couples not to take one another for granted. Doing so, they say, is a recipe for disaster. But is it? Is taking one another for granted all that bad?
Before you enter a state of incredulity from which you cannot recover, consider a Psychology Today post from 2014. Though it’s an older piece, it is still timely and informative. Author Aaron Ben-Zeév Ph.D. suggests that how couples define taking one another for granted makes a difference as to whether doing so is good, bad, or neutral.
Failing to Appreciate or Value
Couples taking one another for granted is something that comes up a lot in marriage counseling. We couples’ therapists do our best to never assume. We probe; we ask questions; we initiate discussions designed to reveal what couples really mean when they talk about this particular topic.
Some couples define taking one another for granted as failing to appreciate or value one another. When that is the definition, taking one another for granted is problematic. Why?
We human beings have a tendency to not put time and effort into things we do not appreciate or value. What I don’t value is not important to me. What you don’t appreciate isn’t important to you. So when couples don’t appreciate or value one another, they have less motivation to love, honor, support, and respect one another.
Relationship Stability and Confidence
There is another way to define taking one another for granted, according to Ben-Zeév’s 2014 article. It is to recognize long-term stability in a marriage, stability that doesn’t leave either husband or wife worried that things are going to fall apart.
When couples reach this point, the relationship tends to take a more comfortable look and feel. They do not work as hard to keep one another engaged because they know the relationship is on solid ground. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Couples in that comfortable and familiar place tend to not try so hard to constantly maintain the high points. While that may not sound like a good thing, their failures to maintain those high points are less frequent. In the end, they experience fewer up-and-down swings. Things stay pretty even keel across the board. And yes, there is a certain level of peace and comfort that comes with that territory.
Comfortable Can Be Very Good
Ben-Zeév made a point of explaining, in his piece, that continually striving for the intensity, passion, and excitement couples experienced when they first started dating is not always healthy. We family therapists can tell you that sometimes doing so is physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. In short, comfortable can be very good.
Some couples strive to always maintain the peak while simultaneously avoiding the valley as much as possible. When a particular valley is unavoidable, they come crashing down. That’s okay. Couples who find happiness by always trying to maintain that spark of excitement should by all means do so. But if you and your spouse find greater happiness in a steady, even-keeled approach, that’s okay, too.
Taking one another for granted because you no longer value or appreciate one another isn’t a good thing. That value and appreciation needs to be there or the two of you aren’t likely to continue investing in your marriage. On the other hand, do not assume that having enough confidence in your marriage that you don’t have to continue trying to recapture your youth is a bad thing. It’s not.