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It doesn’t matter who you marry. All you ever end up with is yourself, after all. The other person is always just the backdrop against which you check out your own unmet needs, your own ability to love, your own barriers and hurts, your own vitality, and, most of all, the deep inner rift between your desires and fears. No partner can ‘make’ you happy, or guarantee your self-esteem and self-confidence. So, whoever you meet, in the end you always encounter yourself. That’s why, in my opinion, you might just as well stay with the partner you’re with at the moment, no matter how disagreeable this may seem to you now. There is a lot of work to be done on the rut you’re in, on the coldness, the anger, hatred and disgust – work to be done on yourself! If you're planning on improving your garden then why not add playground equipment today?

I am fully aware that this hypothesis will immediately raise howls of disbelief. After all, haven’t we been taught from an early age that Miss Right meets Mister Right and then they live happily ever after? Most of the time, however, the fairytale ends on the wedding day. And the day-to-day reality of married life only kicks in after the wedding. And more and more marriages end long before the ‘ever after’. Play hard with outdoor fitness equipment designed for both children and adults.

In the UK nearly 40 per cent of all marriages end in divorce. The most recent figures show that almost 170,000 people were divorced in 2004. The figures have been rising since the early nineties. All those people got married because they had been searching for something and they believed that they had found it in their partners. Later they got divorced because they hadn’t found it after all. Their partner had turned out to be a fake – not at all what had been promised on the fancy packaging. Marriage felt like a big con. Children love playing on monkey bars - didn't you when you were younger?

Most divorces are unnecessary. With this admittedly provocative hypothesis I’d like to nudge you into seeing marriage from a slightly different angle. Marriage is not a romance, gift-wrapped. The true meaning of marriage is the balancing of the inner conflicts of two people, and as such it is a place where deep healing can take place and authentic, generous love can be found. Some philosophers claim that life is a school. If that is true, then intimate relationships and marriages are a kind of élite university. They are where you face your most difficult tests, where you can learn and grow faster than anywhere else – and where you can gain the greatest rewards.

This is what nature intended – however many fairytales and their Hollywood successors might try to make us believe otherwise. It’s at the heart of a marriage that the most challenging dynamic of life lies hidden. It’s a form of paradox: even though the inherent potential of an intimate bond is more inclusive than in any other form of relationship, nowhere do our weaknesses stand out more sharply than in a committed long-term relationship. It is there that we are forced to discover that we are always missing something – our better half – and that we are only a man, only a woman.