What is the 80/20 Rule And Does It Apply To Relationships?
I completely believe that 80/20 Rule applies to relationships! I've written a little bit about the 80/20 Rule in my previous post, "Don't Talk So Much" and now it's time to elaborate more about how it specifically can be used to enhance your relationship.
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So what exactly is the 80/20 Rule?
The 80/20 Rule is also known as the "Pareto Principle" and was named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who observed in 1906 that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. Many more examples of this distribution have been observed in more modern times. Over 80% of the world's wealth is controlled by the richest 20% of the population. Over 80% of crimes are committed by 20% of the criminals. Over 80% over health care claims are submitted by 20% of the patients. Over 80% of customer complaints are made by 20% of the customers. Even Microsoft discovered that 80% of their software problems were corrected by repairing 20% of the "bugs".
How does this apply to relationships?
My belief is that the 80/20 Rule applies to relationships as well! In my experience as a couples counselor for the last twenty years and as a supervisor and consultant to other couples counselors, I truly believe that over 80% of the issues couples face can be resolved by dealing with 20% of their issues.
In fact, well-known couples researcher, Dr. John Gottman indicates that happy long-term couples generally NEVER resolve most of their issues! Which to me means that they have learned to choose their battles and deal with the 20% that matter, that are the deal breakers. When I conduct couples counseling, we focus on that 20% to get maximum leverage, maximum results and more "bang for your buck".
My belief as a clinical psychologist is that 20% of our lives is what happens to you and the other 80% is what you do with it! Let me repeat that: 20% of life is what happens and 80% is how you choose to interpret it! You may agree or disagree, but isn't it a more EMPOWERING perspective to live your life from?
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Let's see how this applies to relationships. Let's say that 80% of our needs are met in our relationship with our partner. What about that other 20%? If we are mature and take responsibility for ourselves, we can meet those relational needs in appropriate ways with our friends, our family, our spiritual connection. If not, we will suffer from the problem of "the grass is greener" and will look outside of our commitment to meet those needs. This is how affairs often begin. And then we've simply traded our 80% for that 20% and did it make us happy? Usually not!
My solution is to flip the numbers around! I believe that we are WAY TOO DEPENDENT upon our relationship to make us happy. What if we lived a life where 20% of our needs were met in our relationship and WE took responsibility for meeting the other 80% of our needs? That would take a great deal of pressure off of ourselves and our partners, wouldn't it?