Relationship Success – Depth Not Duration

Another interesting distinction that relationship expert Reid Mihalko made in the talk I was listening to yesterday was in how we measure the success of a relationship.

How To Measure Relationship SuccessHe says, we tend to measure relationship success by how long a couple had managed to stay together, for example “Married for 50 years!”

But the problem with trying to make your marriage last (and therefore have a “successful relationship”) is that you are too likely to keep the peace and sweep important differences under the carpet.

Success can’t be measured in how long you’re together only in how well you get on, how intimate you are, how deep your love goes. If you look for depth not just duration it increases your capacity for happiness. It also means you’re more likely to be happy together longer, unless there are differences that mean you should really part for both your sakes.

If you never talk about what’s bothering you, it will never be resolved. Intimacy requires vulnerability, openness and honesty. Two people not being honest for the sake of the relationship, makes for two unhappy people in an unhappy relationship, or at least for two people who are not as happy as they could be.

Is Splitting up the best option?

In some cases splitting up may be for the best, and you don’t have to let things get into dire straits just to say you tried everything to stay together. It’s better to end a relationship that shouldn’t survive quickly, rather than dragging you both through hell.

Deciding to part is often the best option for maintaining the integrity of who you are.

What about the kids?

Whatever you do, don’t stay together for the sake of the children.

None of us want our kids to be in the wrong relationship, so the best thing we can do for them is to demonstrate how to get out of one that’s not right in a mature and adult way.

We seem to be too keen as a society on showing kids how to stay together in the wrong relationship instead of getting out of it.

Just a bad patch?

How do you know if you’re in the wrong relationship or just going through a bad patch?

A bad patch is often caused by external circumstances, for example family worries, a job loss, debt or health issues, whereas the wrong relationship is because you are fundamentally not suited to each other.

With a bad patch, good communication and working together can get you through it and out the other side, without permanent damage to your relationship, whereas nothing can help you if you’re in the wrong relationship, other than deciding to part amicably.

Reid likens it to driving a car. When you’re going through a rough patch, it’s like going uphill. You have to make extra effort and put your foot on the gas to get there, but at the top of the hill the car goes along just fine again as if you’d not struggled uphill at all.

With a fundamentally poor relationship, it’s like driving around with the parking brake on. You’re going nowhere fast. It’s painful for everyone else to watch and listen to. It’s excruciating for the occupants of the car. And it’s damaging the car so that it will never be the same again.

Note from Ana: This all fits in nicely with my communication challenge which is supposed to be adding more depth. I like Reid’s ideas, and think there’s a lot of wisdom there, but perhaps I wouldn’t like them if I was going through a split / not to split/ stay together for the children type decision.

Over to you: Do these ideas ring true with you? Have you ever decided to stay together for the sake of the children and then found that you couldn’t? Please share in the comments below.

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8 Responses to “Relationship Success – Depth Not Duration”

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  1. You are so right! So many people live miserable lives because they stay with a partner for various reasons, all involving the concept of ‘should’ or ‘need to’.
    On the other hand, some of the deepest most meaningful relationships can be short – that’s spawned an endless suppy of stories for Hollywood, and for real life of course!
    The Great Gordino recently posted…Rubik’s Cube – 40 Years Of Throwing Them Through Windows!

  2. Christy Hall says:

    You are spot on. All aspects of our lives contribute to our health and wellness. We must always check in with ourselves and make sure that what we are doing is in alignment with our highest and best purpose. Thanks for sharing.
    Christy Hall recently posted…Getting It All Done

    • Ana says:

      Thanks for sharing Christy. Part of the trouble may be that people get together before they know what their highest and best purpose is. Mind you, I’m still looking for mine and I have kids who should already be looking for theirs and probably haven’t got a clue that they need one because it isn’t hiding in the screen of a video game, for sure.
      Ana recently posted…Are You Giving Your Relationship Enough Time And Attention?

  3. Misty Spears says:

    I stayed with my ex for almost 5 years longer than I should have because of the kids. We kept saying once they hit middle school, then we’d be ok to go our ways. It was a waste of both of our lives and honestly, our kids weren’t any happier because of it. Definitely a lesson learned.
    Misty Spears recently posted…Nutritional Value of Hemp Seeds And Why Hemp Should Be a Regular Part of Your Diet

    • Ana says:

      Thanks for sharing that Misty. I’m sure kids have some kind of sense of whether we are happy together or not even when we think we’re hiding it. But it’s not easy to see that when you’re in the middle of it all.
      Ana recently posted…Fabulous And Seductive

  4. Michael says:

    Reid is wrong,a health issue isn’t a ” bad patch”, it’s a true definition of how strong your bond really is. Be it a child with special needs or in my case,my wife dying of cancer during a three year period. I learned that the more serious the problem,the most likely a couple will break. I don’t pretend to understand that logic but it is true. In the hardest times,that is when you bond together,not fall by the wayside.
    Michael recently posted…20 May 13

    • Ana says:

      I think you’re right Michael that it depends on the seriousness of the problem and how deep your love is. Health problems create issues in a relationship which can be overcome if you already have a strong bond as you had with your wife. If the bond is not strong then they tend to show weaknesses in it.
      Ana recently posted…When Should You Take Down Your Online Dating Profile?

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