According to the Vanier Institute of the Family, statistics in October 2011 revealed that 4 in 10 marriages end in divorce. Divorce rates are measured as a prediction of the percentage of couples that can be expected to divorce before their 30th wedding anniversary. So what can couples do today to find themselves in a happy relationship in 30 years?
- Be pro-active instead of reactive and avoid the “I did this because you did that” way of thinking. When you are reactive, you are blaming someone or something else for your behaviour. Your actions come from within you, from your chosen standards and values, not from an external source. When you are proactive, you determine the direction of your life and don’t allow any external thing to excuse your behaviour. It means you take personal responsibility for who you are and what you do.
- Give positive affirmations. Compliment, praise, thank and acknowledge your partner. Don’t assume that your partner knows that you love and appreciate them. Be affirming, genuinely, regularly and consistently.
- Model how you would like to be treated. If you want to be listened to, practice the skills of being a good listener.
- Use “I” statements, not “you” statements. “You” statements blame, accuse and criticize. “You always do this…” Alternatively, “I” statements express how you feel. “I feel hurt when…”
- Seek first to understand – then to be understood. Often our first reaction when situations become escalated is to make ourselves understood. Try to listen to your partner and empathize with their position.
- Develop your communication skills. 98% of good communication is effective listening. Concentrate on what the other person is saying, then try to convey back what you believe they are trying to say. Also, be aware of your body language. Develop eye contact, have a pleasant facial expression, watch your tone of voice, be present and engaged.
- Empower your partner. Don’t try to solve all of their problems or tell them what they should do, instead be supportive and encouraging to help them manage their challenges.
- Nurture the relationship. In a dynamic relationship, you have to continually address change. Continue to invest time to dialogue about your partnership, your needs, your dreams. Schedule dedicated couple time.
- Communicate your needs in a positive and constructive way. Your partner cannot read your mind. Ask for what you need in a timely, specific and non-demanding way.