I love statistics. I love being shocked by them and I get all gossipy in a "Did you know…..." teeth sucking kind of way.
So you can imagine the teeth sucking that was going on last week when I came across the following statistics: The majority of women remain in their marriage for an average of 5 years from the time they believe that the relationship has crossed from crisis point to dire straits.
Add that to the statistics that between 40-50 percent of couples will end up divorced, can you imagine how many truly unhappy couples that make up that percentage?
These are couples who have lost the ability to communicate without shouting, sulking, or name calling.
How many evenings worldwide are spent in silence on the sofa either trying to avoid an argument or pleading for affection, love, or understanding? How many couples right now are dreading bed time, weekends and oh good Lord the holiday season?
If you throw into the mix the next shocker, which is that 60 percent of second marriages end in divorce, there are two horrific thoughts that struck me.
Firstly, all those five years of misery, desperation, hurt, anger, fighting, loneliness, these couples have learned nothing or not enough to change the patterns of behavior.
- They haven’t learned how to sets healthy boundaries for themselves.
- They haven’t learned what they really want from an ideal relationship or partner.
- They haven’t learned why they keep repeating these same patterns time and again.
Secondly, they recreate the same relationship in a different guise, the same problems, different wallpaper and soft furnishings and potentially another five years of misery.
Is it any wonder that if you asked any of these men and women, they would have fairly strong opinions on why relationships suck?
You've probably had a conversation with some of these people, and they say things like, "I’m just not cut out for marriage", "All men are...", and "All women ever want is…"
They ooze negativity and are pretty much hitting the final nail in their own relationship coffin. You get what you expect and no more, and if more arrives, you don’t trust it, you look for the catch, and, ultimately, you push it away.
The problem for most of us is that we never get beyond the stage of accepting our current reality as the truth.
Rarely someone will actually question their truths. For instance, when I hear someone say, "I’m just not cut out for marriage", I question them around it.
The biggest driving force we have as human beings is to make and develop connections with others (to love and be loved). The reason we are still going strong after all these hundreds or thousands of years is our innate desire to connect and belong.
We are social creatures, we feel happiest when we feel connected to others and when we don’t, it often leads to depressions, addictions and all sorts of other maladies.
So for anyone questioning that they are just not cut out for relationships, I would ask... What makes you so different from the rest of us?
If the answer is a series of bad experiences, then I would ask you, what would it take to create a different experience? Here are 5 ways to do it:
1. Define your ideal relationship.
When I ask clients to define their ideal relationship, they produce a list of what they don’t want, which is great information to have — but I want to know is what you do want?
Write 50 characteristics your partner and your relationship would have. I don’t mean how he looks or where you live, how much money he earns or what his job is. I mean the real stuff, the goosebump-y bits that make your heart sing.
How does he treat you, how do you spend your time, do you need a lot of your own time? How will he respond to this need? What will you do together? What are the non-negotiables? Will it be breakfast in bed or weekends spent at the beach?
Is he a huge fan of Christmas? Does he pull out all the stops or he is happy to have a quiet family time?
What is important to you? Keep going until you hit 50 then find another ten.
It isn’t about your current reality, it isn’t about knowing how you will make these things happens this is about dreaming a dream that becomes a non-negotiable in your life.
2. Check in with your reality.
So now you have a gorgeous list of a wonderful romantic relationship and you are probably doing the whole comparison thing with your current situation and shaking your head at how woefully shabby your current romance is.
I’m not a great fan of comparison but whilst we are on the topic, have a look at that list you created and ask yourself what steps are you currently taking to make these a reality?
It's so easy to get caught up in what is happening and what our partners aren’t providing for us, but we often conveniently forget that it take two to tango.
I’ll bet you are feeling a bit of resistance, which is completely normal but ask yourself why. Stay quiet and listen.
Often when presented with a list of complaints from a client about their partner, I turn the tables. You say he never cuddles you. Well, how often do you hug him? Why not? So assume he is feeling the same way, why would he make the first move?
3. Be the change you want to see.
If you are in those last few years of unhappiness in your marriage, then what do you have to lose? Nothing and actually here is what you may gain:
- You'll learn what your part in the breakdown of the relationship was. (I’ll give you a hint, you are neither fully to blame or 100 percent innocent.)
- You'll know what works and what doesn’t work for you in a relationship learn to create boundaries accordingly.
- You'll change your story and therefore the ending.
- You'll rekindle your marriage. But, beware, this takes a lot of humility to admit you may have been wrong and there is something worth saving. This takes courage.
- You'll decide the marriage is still untenable you will give yourself a fighting chance of making a success of your next relationship.
4. Love yourself.
This is the game changer in your life and your relationship. It's also the toughest because you're lonely, flat, and miserable. You probably feel pretty rubbish about yourself and the idea of lavishing yourself in self-love seems ludicrous, but hear me out.
I mentioned before that you will only receive to the extent that you are open to it and to the extent to you feel you are worth it, which is where the majority of our relationship problems stem from.
Yes, it may show up as communication issues or something else, but the real back to basics reason is the lack of self-worth. Without it how can you put healthy boundaries in place or teach others what is acceptable in a relationship with you?
It makes sense surely to use our time wisely and reconnect with ourselves.
5. Stop waiting for something to happen.
Get busy, I know it is tough and the longer you’re living with the stress, anxiety, and strained communications, there is a temptation is to sit home, hide from the world, and wait for something to happen.
By miracle, perhaps, that it makes everything alright again or the light-bulb moment when you know exactly what to do.
But often, whilst waiting for these things, you put your life on hold. Of course, it isn’t conscious but the energy you've invested in just surviving leaves you exhausted and leaves you tempted to stop making the effort to have fun in your life.
You are more likely to reach a moment of clarity when you are actually living, having fun and meeting people.
To know more on how Allison Reiner works and how she can help you, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or to get working immediately, why not download her 5 step worksheet to help identify where you can begin to make changes? Click here.
This article was originally published at The Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.