My wife and I attend different churches but we are of the same denomination. The adjustment at first was interesting, it is advised that both persons should be a part of the same congregation but I am a none conformist, I revel in being different and interestingly enough, my wife is of the same persuasion, if it is not broken don’t fix it.
The family life department in her church decided to have a couples evening out and we were invited, this was my first time attending a programme like this so I had my doubts.
It was wonderful to see a group of couples having fun, dancing and serenading each other. I am here to declare that marriages still work.
There are some common things that you need to be aware of for your relationship to survive the test of time. In an article written by Eric Barker, he referred to research done by Malcome Gladwell and said this, “John is a professor emeritus at the University of Washington and co-founder of the Gottman Institute. He’s published over 190 papers and authored more than 40 books, including Principia Amoris: The New Science of Love, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, and The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships. John’s gained powerful insights from studying couples that thrive (who he calls “Masters”) and couples that don’t (who he calls “Disasters”). Gladwell was able to tell in a couple minutes the marriages that will make it and the ones that will not so check this out.
There are four things that if mastered can provide you with a relationship that is foolproof
against failure and of course with God in it.
GETTING TO KNOW YOUR PARTNER
Before I go into these four important things, there is something that must be brought to mind and that is, we should spend the time getting to know our partners. Most persons spend their time trying to teach their partners about themselves. They will talk about what they like and what they do not like and if they are not getting the immediate result from their partners they go into self-preservation. Their thought process is, since he/she is not interested in hearing about me, I am not going to be interested in learning about them and this is where most relationships start deteriorating.
Couples are not taking the time to learn about their partner, they are taking the time in getting their partner to learn about them and this becomes even more of a challenge when there are children involved.
Responding positively is also an important part of the growth in a relationship.
It is the little things, complimenting your partner, saying thanks for deeds that are done and for every time you do there is a point added to the score, not doing it then a point is taken away from the score. Couples with high score builds relationship equity, the low scoring ones will most times end up in divorce and if not are holding on for dear life.
I was on a famous site and read an interesting point about how we are socialized. In our daily activities, there are some things we do every day. Eat, drink etc. When it is midday most times a clock goes off in our heads that is saying that we should eat something because if you do not eat the body will fail and I am not talking about missing a meal, I am talking about missing meals on a regular basis can lead to many different diseases and even death.
It is important that we continue to do the little things that will help our relationship to grow. When you are able to laugh even when having a serious conversation then you know your relationship is going in the right direction. If you score a point at a high rate, you get a sense of humour during the conflict. Humour is very powerful because it reduces physiological arousal during arguments and that’s been replicated in several studies.
Have you ever heard someone talk about their partner and say, he/she is the best thing that ever happened to them? They will go on and on about their partner and all the time you are saying to yourself, just give it time and you will see (ugh! just give it a rest). This is actually perfect! In the same article, Eric Barker shares a statement that is a relative truth, “Our best prediction of the future of a relationship came from a couple’s “story of us.” It’s an ever-changing final appraisal of the relationship and your partner’s character. Some people were really developing a “story of us” that was very negative in which they really described all the problems in the relationship. They really emphasize what was missing. Masters did just the opposite: they minimized the negative qualities that all of us have and they cherish their partner’s positive qualities. They nurture gratitude instead of resentment”.
If you are with someone and they are the worse person in the world, and the only way the marriage is going to work is if they just learn to listen then crack your whip because that relationship is going down.
I have not forgotten about the 4 Things that can hurt your Relationship:
- Stonewalling is a common thing used in an unhealthy relationship. When things are done and said that you do not like and your reaction is to go silent for the day, this behaviour can hurt your relationship. It is common to feel that when you do not feel you are being heard or if you think you are being criticized you go quiet, there is really nothing to say, the problem doesn’t go away, it is still lurking in your quiet and all it needs is a spark and that fire can burn down your mansion in minutes. Always remember to express yourself in a kind and caring way even when you feel your partner is being unreasonable, if you are overwhelmed just let them know that you are and you both can finish the conversation another time, going quiet solves nothing.
- Contempt, and what is this you may ask, but believe it or not, when you think you are better than your partner, because you are more attractive, money, assets, education and not to mention your family tree then this can cause a breakdown in your relationship. Contempt is talking down to their partner. Being insulting or acting superior. Not only did it predict relationship breakup, but it predicted the number of infectious illnesses that the recipient of contempt would have in the next four years when we measured health.
- Criticism is when you point at your partner and declare that their personality or general character is a problem. Criticism is staging the problem in a relationship as a character flaw in a partner. A good candidate for a relationship does the opposite: they point a finger at themselves and they really have a very gentle way of starting up the discussion, minimizing the problem and talking about what they feel and what they need. I know you have heard it a dozen times, you may lack the patience in your execution but if you truly want your marriage to work then you need to commit to the process.
- Defensiveness is responding by counterattacking. I will say to my wife, honey, what about being introspective on the discussed topic and she will turn to me and say you need to be introspective! Each time it’s done I would be dumbstruck but when you think about this, we all do it in an effort to protect ourselves. If a successful relationship is our goal then that has to go. We must admit that defensiveness is a natural reaction to being criticized. It takes two forms: counterattacking or acting like an innocent victim and whining. Again, the experts on relationships were very different even when their partner was critical. They accepted the criticism or even took responsibility for part of the problem. They said, “Talk to me, I want to hear how you feel about this.”
For relationships to succeed we have to take the approach of that like school or work. We need reminders, consistent updates on tips and tricks in making your relationship/marriage a successful one. It was great to be in a room with only married couples, to see them laughing and having fun with each other. Marriages are working, relationships are beautiful and can last the test of time.