David Richo has written an excellent book: How To Be An Adult, published by Paulist Press. I strongly recommend it.
The following material comes from The "Givens" of Relationships: Antidotes to Unrealistic Expectations. This should be required reading for everyone dating, considering marriage and married. It is, without a doubt, the best thing I have seen on the subject. David Richo deserves a medal for this:
"All factors in relationships pass through phases: intimacy, affection, sexual interest/energy, commitment to children and family, compatibility, self-disclosure.
Only at rare moments is the love in one partner the same as that in the other.
Priorities are continually changing for each partner. The integrity of the union may not always be a priority.
No truly loving relationship takes away–or can take away–even one of your basic human rights.
Intimate relationships survive best with constant permission for ever-changing ratios of closeness and distance.
What creates distance in your relationship, you may be using unconsciously to get distance.
The best relationship includes space for you to pursue individual choices and to be compassionately attentive to any threat your partner may feel.
No one can control or change someone else, nor is it necessary.
No one is loyal or truthful all the time.
No expectations are valid and not even agreements are always reliable.
Your partner may not always be a consistent, nurturant, or trust-worthy friend to you (nor you to your partner).
You are ultimately alone and ultimately able to make it alone.
No relationship can create self-esteem, only support it.
There is no one person who will make you happy, keep you facinated, love you as your favorite parent did, or give you the love you missed from your parents.
Most people in relationships seldom know what they really want, ask for what they really want, or show what they really feel.
Most people avoid or fear intimacy, consistent honesty, intense feelings, and uninhibited joy.
Beneath every serious complaint about your partner is something unowned in yourself.
Letting go of blame and the need to be right heals a relationship most efficaciously.
Jealousy and possessiveness, though not desirable, are normal human feelings.
"Goodbye" is rarely said clearly; most people ease away wordlessly and avoid full confrontation.
No one is to blame when a relationship ends.
The end of one relationship will always require a space before another relationship can begin healthily.
It is normal for memories, regrets, the wish for revenge, and a recurrent sense of loss far, far to outlast the ending of a relationship.
One of your (or your partner's) parents is a phantom, but active, presence at the beginning, middle or ending of your relationship.
The powerful appeal of someone new may tell you more about your own neediness than about the charms of the other person.
A relationship is a spiritual path since it consists of a continual shedding of illusions."
© Patrick O’Neill 2008. All rights reserved.