Love Cannot Conquer All—Even Twin Love

As so many of us discover after a number of years of marriage, the exact qualities that attracted us to our beloved turn out to be personality traits that may contribute to our feeling unhappy, lonely, or sad later on in the relationship. This predicament can become especially intolerable if you have a twin who gets you, has your back, demonstrates unconditional love and acceptance, and needs to hear no more than a few words drop from your lips to instantaneously and empathically understand what you’re going through.

The very fortunate twin pairs who have this loving and inherent connection may feel disappointed and angry when their spouses don’t and can’t measure up to this unparalleled intimacy. These closely bonded twins may expect that this unbridled connection will or should automatically reoccur when they marry and have a family. However, it’s important for all of us—not just twins—to think about what preceded our falling in love and how that impacted and influenced our choices of mates.

I had the pleasure of speaking with an identical twin woman in her forties who contacted me about her disappointment with her husband’s lack of mirroring. In fact, she told me that both she and her twin sister often feel lonely in their marriages because they cannot get from their husbands what they organically share with one another. As I probed more into her history, she told me that both she and her sister had been competitive snow skiers. Their father had been a ski instructor, and at seven years of age both girls began to ski. With their dad as their coach, both women achieved extraordinary professional success and enjoyed celebratory careers.

As she talked a bit more, she had an “aha” moment, recognizing that both she and her sister married very independent men. She reflected that their choice of mates had much to do with the fact that they had been under their father’s control for so many years. For better or worse, their underlying need to please and perform for him unconsciously enhanced their attraction to men who appeared self-contained.

So now the self-sufficient guy whom she fell in love with in college cannot fulfill her wishes for emotional intimacy, as he has never been that kind of man. He is a loving husband and father whom she loves and admires; nonetheless, the persistent loneliness she feels must be addressed through her own willingness to find more intimate connections with girlfriends or colleagues. Accepting and understanding the limitations of her marital intimacy and recognizing the uniqueness of her twin intimacy, she is comfortable looking outside of these connections to find friendship and companionship.

Image courtesy of Ed Schipul (CC BY 2.0)

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