In this day and age, we are aware that many of our intimate relationships are struggling and are in jeopardy. Therefore, the age old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is equally relevant today as it was when the saying was originally coined.
According to Stats Canada, approximately 38 % of marriages in Canada end in divorce (over a thirty year period). What preventative measure can young couples apply to their relationships that will ensure their stability and longevity?
There are three common relationship deal breakers – Compromise, Competition and Complaints which all contribute to conflict in relationships. Unto themselves, these interactions all sound relatively positive. Let’s examine them more carefully in the context of intimate relationships.
- Compromise is essentially when two people settle for less than what they really want. For example, a couple decides that they would like to go out to a movie. The wife would really like to see a particular movie but learns that her husband has no interest in watching it. He suggests a movie which his wife has no interest in watching. In the name of compromise, they end up attending a third choice which neither really wants to view. Instead of compromising, the couple could use a more effective approach called negotiating which produces a win/win situation. The couple decides to attend the movie which the woman wants to see one week, and the following week, they go to the movie the husband wants to see.
- Competition is very much a part of our every day, capitalistic society. We all need to know how to compete in order to function in our society. People on a daily basis are competing for jobs, opportunities, recognition, etc. However, competition within our intimate relationships can potentially wreak havoc between couples since the more competitive we are, the more self-centred we become. Competition emphasizes our goals and enhances our skills often to the detriment of our significant relationships. The opposite of competition is compassion. Compassion is the skill or ability to accurately experience the thoughts and feeling of another plus the desire to do whatever is necessary to help another in their time of distress. Many relationships would greatly benefit if there was simply more compassion between spouses.
- Complaints definitely lead to the deterioration of a relationship. The complaints may be true, but one must ask, “Are the complaints kind and necessary?” Listening to problems demoralizes us; where, talking about and applying solutions energizes us.
So what are those ounces of prevention we can apply to our relationships to ensure they remain stable and satisfying?
- Learn to negotiate.
- Be compassionate and listen to the thoughts and feelings of your loved ones.
- Rather than complain, become a problem-solver.