The Relationship You Have With Your Spouse Can Be Improved
Parenting children and creating successful relationships with our significant others are two of the most difficult jobs we face, but neither receives formal training. It’s as if people believe that we are born with an inherent ability to do these two things. Yet, look around us. Divorce rates in the US are slightly over 50%! Baseball is the only sport where a 50% average is considered good.
As couples go through life, they get along when times are good, but fight, ignore, or leave each other when times are tough. For most people, seeking help with their relationships implies admitting defeat, which says something about their character. Maybe they believe that we should be able to manage relationships on our own. Others believe those helping couples can’t be any more knowledgeable than they are. When it comes to maintaining relationships, what do you need to know?
The truth is that when it comes to relationships, there is a lot to learn. It is unfortunate that most of us only receive training passively through the modeling we observe from adults in our households and the media. While I can’t speak for you, I know that my parents received only the informal training handed down from their parents and their great-grandparents. That’s only the beginning of what we need to know about relationships!
It is also worth mentioning that my parents divorced around the time of their 25th wedding anniversary, which supports the 50% statistic. From watching them, I learned that couples never argue in front of children, especially when they are together. My parents appeared to have a very happy marriage, but my father had a stereotypical midlife crisis and suddenly questioned the meaning of life, thinking marriage was holding him back.
There is a possibility that this type of training was as harmful as having 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 ideas, 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 person’s values are, what is important to them, the personality characteristics involved, or what either of you likes to do in your spare time. Compatibility is key for a successful, healthy relationship.
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 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 most 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, the 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!