People are always pondering about what makes one marriage last over another. What is it that leads to divorce? If you’ve been married once before, like I have, then you can almost become obsessed with this question - as I have over the years! We worry about remarriage. Some people are so afraid, that they never get remarried, and some people roll the dice, hoping for the best!
So let me start by asking this question: If you squeeze an orange, what comes out? Do you get lemon juice? Grapefruit juice? No! You get orange juice! Relationships are like an orange. When pressure is applied, what comes out is what is already on the inside. Nothing else.
So what is the difference that makes the difference? What are the components that keep the marriage lasting? In the early years of my marriage to my husband, I was very analytical. Always looking for the difference because I didn’t want to make the same mistake again. I wanted this one to last.
At first, I deduced that the “reason” for my failed marriage (when all was said and done) was because he just wanted to live a different life than I did. However, as I started working with more and more couples, I started to notice a pattern. Yes, there are specific core traits of successful couples!
1. Admiration. Successful couples truly admire each other. But even when things are crazy, they really have a mutual admiration for who they are, deep down inside. I was working with a couple the other day, and the husband was talking about a troubling situation they were dealing with as a blended family. As he was speaking, his wife just watched and listened and there it was on her face – the look of admiration! He didn’t see it because he was engrossed in “the story”, but there it was!
2. Respect. Successful couples have respect for each other. Sometimes, when we are dealing with stress in our life and/or family, we might not be at our best. We can behave disrespectfully, because we are angry or frustrated or whatever! That is different than respecting the other person. When our partner is in alignment with who we are and our values, there is a mutual respect present within the relationship that can weather adversity.
3. Shared lifestyle vision or dream. Successful couples share the same ideaswhen it comes to how they want to live the life both in the present and in the future. Did you ever notice how many couples on those decorating shows will say “Our style is…” and they seem to have the same “style”? They are either modern or traditional or country. This is true for overall lifestyle! They’re not necessarily exactly alike, but the bulk of how they want to live their life and how they envision their future is the same.
If your relationship isn’t like this right now, this does not mean that you should go break up or get divorced! It just means you have some work to do. By the way, if you’re currently single, do the assignment based on your past relationships. It will help you create a great one in your future!
Your WBF Assignment:
1. Evaluate where you are in relationship with your spouse/significant other in these three key areas. Rank on a scale of 1-10, 10 being perfect score, for both you and your partner. What is your level of compatibility? It is feasible that one person admires more than the other!
2. Get real about the differences. Spend some time thinking through the What and Why of these differences and where they might be playing a role in the challenges you are experiencing in your relationship.
3. Get clear about your own desires! Based on what you’ve discovered, write out details of what the expression of admiration and respect is ideally like for you. Write out details of how you want to be living your life now and in the future. Be as specific as possible! You can’t make it happen if you’re not clear.
4. Talk with your partner! Let them know what you “discovered” – both the differences AND the similarities. If they’re not reading this article, share it with them. Have them do the same assignment and then come together to discuss ways to “blend” what you both want for yourselves. If anything, this will help you to re-connect, because, at the heart of every successfully blended family is a strong partnership!
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Please do! Just be sure to include this following information with it: Lisa Perry, Coach and Speaker, is founder of Wellness Life skills Coaching and TheWellBlendedFamily.com. She has been coaching families for success since 2003 and – being part of a blended family, she offers insights unique to families of divorce trying to blend and struggling. To get more information and receive her weekly articles on resolving family conflict and paving the way for a successfully blended family, visit www.thewellblendedfamily.com.