It seems as if creating successful relationships with our significant others and parenting children are two of the most difficult jobs we face and yet we get no formal training in either. It’s as if people believe that we are born with an inherent ability to do these two things. Yet, look around us. In the US, the divorce rate is slightly over 50%! I don’t know anywhere but baseball where a 50% average is a good thing.
Couples go through life getting along when times are good; and fighting with, ignoring, or leaving each other when things get tough. Most people believe that to seek help with their relationships means to admit a certain kind of defeat that says something about who they are as a person. Or possibly, they believe that relationships are something we are just supposed to be able to manage on our own. Or, finally, some people believe that those out there helping couples can’t know any more than they do. After all, what’s to know about keeping relationships together?
Well, the truth is that there is a whole lot to learn when it comes to relationships. Unfortunately, the only training most of us ever receive is the passive learning we get through the modeling of the adults who live in our house with us and the media. Now, I don’t know about you, but my parents had only received the informal training they got from their parents, and they from my great grandparents and so on back through the generations. There is so much more to know about relationships than that!
Also, my parents have helped support that 50% statistic cited earlier in that they divorced sometime around their 25th wedding anniversary. What I learned about relationships from watching them is that couples never argue, especially in front of the children. On the surface, my parents had a very happy marriage but my father experienced a stereotypical mid-life crisis and suddenly questioned the meaning of life and decided marriage was holding him back somehow.
In some ways, this type of training may have been as bad as those who have parents who argue all the time. Disagreements are a natural by-product of relationships. It is virtually impossible for two people to come together and create a life without some of their ideals, values, opinions or day-to-day activities coming into conflict with each other. The question becomes how the couple manages this conflict.
There are many things to consider when speaking about couples and their challenges and areas for growth and development. The first is compatibility. I know there is an expression that says opposites attract and I believe there is some accuracy in that statement when you think of attraction as that chemical interaction that occurs when two people meet and are attracted. This chemical attraction doesn’t care what the other persons values are, what is important to him or her, the personality characteristics involved, or what either of you likes to do in your spare time. Compatibility is a key for a successful, healthy relationship. Go to www.therelationshipcenter.biz and take the free Assessment to determine your compatibility with your partner.
A second consideration is simply that there are major differences in how men are in relationships compared to how women are. Women generally don’t understand men because the men don’t act like women and similarly, men don’t understand women because they don’t act like men. And since a woman has never been a man and a man has never been a woman, how does each learn about these important differences? John Gray researched and wrote about these issues in his book, Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus. But I would say that the majority of people in relationships don’t take the time to learn about these gender differences. It is easier to point a finger and blame the other person for his or her irrational behavior.
As mentioned earlier, a third area of growth is learning how to manage conflict. There are time proven methods for resolving conflict that we don’t learn in school or from a book. There are ways to actually hear each other in relationships. By placing the relationship FIRST in importance, these methods can be implemented by couples to greatly improve their satisfaction.
There is so much to learn about satisfying relationships that your parents never showed you. Please don’t become one of the statistics of divorce or perhaps worse, stay in a miserable relationship to honor your marriage vows while having so many regrets about your life as the time ticks away.
Take charge and take control of your life. Learn some new ways to improve the relationship you are already in or to prepare yourself for being a better, improved partner for the next person in your life.
Don’t wait until it is too late.