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.
He 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.
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.
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.
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.