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Oh My Stars

A survey released in Australia recently reveals some surprising reasons why long-term couples break up. Okay, some of those reasons aren’t so surprising: physical violence being the biggest single indicator that it’s not going to work. But many relationships that survive for a while eventually break down (or hold up) in the long run because of a collection of minor differences: different health habits, different senses of adventure, and so on.

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Blink-182 knew this years ago.

In astrological terms, this phenomenon should theoretically boil down to the individual factors in each person’s birth chart. But I think I’m seeing a larger picture here, and it (unintentionally) speaks to that double-edged sword of modern astrology: Sun Signs.

It seems that almost everyone gets their first exposure to astrology through Sun Signs. That’s perfectly understandable: our calendar is based on Earth’s 365.25 day trip around the Sun, so it’s easy enough to look up your birth date and find out where the Sun was that day. It’s not so easy to figure out what your Moon Sign or your Mercury Sign is, or whatever.

Although Sun Signs and Sun Sign compatibility are the usual gateway drugs to astrology, you will hear many astrologers complain about it, and sometimes rightly so. It doesn’t take too long examining how astrology works to see that it’s a lot more complicated than that. There are saints and sinners of all kinds born under each sign. But as I often point out, the Sun in your birth chart represents your Ego. You need an ego to be in a relationship, but at the same time you need to be able to dial it down when it counts for the sake of the relationship.

Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. You do not have to be less than yourself to be in a relationship. Ideally being in a relationship will make you more of yourself. But it seems that as time goes on and the initial hormonal buzz of a fresh relationship mellows out, and once you’ve passed all the major tests,  it’s the things related to the ego that are most likely to get in the way of a successful relationship.

According to the usual Sun Sign astrology, Aries goes well with Leo but not with Cancer, and so on. These general observations based on Sun Sign are usually fairly accurate… and yet if you look at the actual statistics of couples who marry, there is absolutely no correlation between incompatible and compatible Sun Signs in actual married couples. Why is that?

The main answer is that astrology is a lot more complex than that. If you are with a partner whose Sun Sign is technically incompatible with yours, there is still plenty of chance that all the other important placements in your chart works efficiently well together but the relationship can be a success. Likewise, you can be in a relationship with someone who has a compatible Sun with yours, but if your Moons and Venuses and Marsii and Jupiteria and Saturnsees (Are those the proper plurals for those names? No, but I’m having fun with it. Don’t interrupt.) and all aren’t playing along, it’s going to be difficult at best.

Ultimately, if your ego drives behaviors that your mate can’t stand, you have a choice as to whether to tone it down or not. Sometimes you’ll be right to stand your ground, and sometimes you won’t do it just to be a jerk. And as so often happens, the ego will end up fighting lots of little proxy wars, the way the United States and the Soviet Union used to poke each other via Vietnam and Afghanistan and Central America rather than actually go to war directly with each other. You don’t like me to hang out with you when you’re with your friends? Fine. I’ll smoke this cigar in the bathroom. With the windows shut. That sort of thing.

So: it seems to me that although the Sun Signs are rarely where a relationship starts, sometimes the individual Suns involved are the downfall of a relationship. Ultimately an unwillingness to give ground on some things can lead to a larger failure.

One piece of evidence in support of this idea? In long-term relationships where people live together versus long term relationships where people are actually married, the unmarried couples have a greater break up rate. Of course plenty of long-term unmarried relationships work out just fine (and if you are not a fan of traditional notions of committed monogamy, don’t get all up in my grill because you think I’m arguing with you).

But consider this: if you are willing to sacrifice your ego… sometimes… then it stands to reason that the relationship has a better chance of surviving, all else being equal.

So yes: if you want to be in a relationship and make it work, you have to bring your best self to the table… and sometimes you’ve got to know when to take one for the team.

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