04/10/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Just Listen - Why Long Term First Marriages End

"When you fall in love in your 20s, you're swept away by all the passion. However you often don't know who it is you're going to grow up to be. And if the two of you grow up to be people who are merely different and simply not compatible as a married couple, it makes no sense to make the other person wrong and destroy what was once good."

This was told to me by a very wise woman who discovered this with her first husband. He agreed and not only did they amicably divorce they have remained very good friends and successful business partners. And because of the cooperation, mutual respect and not making each other wrong, their child has thrived much more than kids from many conflict ravaged, intact marriages.

The trouble arises when one or the other or both partners requires the other person to grow in the same direction in order to remain psychologically stable. The people who have the most difficulty and create the most havoc in allowing the other person to become a different person are often what we refer to as being Narcissists* or having Borderline Personalities.** Narcissists are driven by a need to psychologically dominate others to serve their ego; people with Borderline Personalities are driven by a need to control others to serve their own psychological survival. When either of these types of people sense their partner is not conforming to their psychological needs, they become enraged. The rage of Narcissists is a reaction to the other person having the impudence to not do want the narcissist wants. The rage of people with Borderline Personalities comes from the terror that they will fragment if the other person either controls or threatens to abandon them.

One way to not only survive but thrive in a marriage in which each of you grow into different personalities is if you share core values to which your commitment is much more powerful than your personality incompatibility. If for instance your love, devotion and commitment to God or family in your actions vs. words is much more important than getting your way, there is more than enough room to live happily ever after regardless of who each of you grow up to be.

What do you think?

* To learn more about Narcissists check out: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life by Linda Martinez-Lewi. To identify one check out The Narcissist Inventory
** To learn more about Borderline Personalities check out: "I Hate You, Don't Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality by Jerold Kreisman.
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