I want to know why we're not required to take classes in relationships! We must learn the periodic table, the algebraic steps to figure out what 'x' equals, and dissect a frog; we can learn woodshop, pottery, automotive technology or electronic technology. But learning and understanding the differences between men and women, and the skills and nuances involved in dealing with relationships are not taught. Why?
I hereby declare that it should be mandatory for high school upperclassmen and college students to take classes in the art of relationships. I will go further to state that adults should take 'continuing education' courses on relationships as a form of maintenance. Real estate agents, attorneys, and doctors already 'married' to their career are required to continue learning to remain successful. According to most people, relationships are the most important aspect of our lives, yet we don't give them the same effort and attention as we do our careers, or even our cars or pets. Why?
While courses on relationships may not be found under the category of business, it is serious business. According to several sources, the divorce rate in America for first marriages ranges from 41-50 percent, second marriages 60-67 percent and third marriages about 73 percent. It doesn't take a math wiz to see that we are failing miserably.
There are many and various reasons why relationships end. Wrong partner choices aside (another topic entirely), below are four of the major killers:
A Lack of Communication
Disrespect. There are many ways we show disrespect to our partners without even realizing it. How often have you rolled your eyes in disgust, disregarded their opinion, or dismissed their feelings. They've literally been dissed!
Antidote: Stop, in the name of love! Constantly be aware of your actions and vow to yourself that you will stop hurting your partner by dishonoring them.
Expectations. Beware of expectations. They will consistently disappoint and frustrate. While they generally have a negative connotation, and are usually preceded by the words unrealistic or unfair, we all have them.
Antidote: Expectations should be clearly defined and understood. There is a term in business called "operational definition" which means to define something specifically with no ambiguity. Doing this allows a person to know exactly what you need and gives them the opportunity to decide whether or not it is something they can provide. For instance, if you're dating someone who says they need to hear from you more -- what does that specifically look like? Does that mean they need three calls and texts a day; or a text in the morning to say you're thinking of them, and a call at the end of the day to say goodnight? If you're married, how often do you need sex? Or to hear 'You look beautiful!' Be as specific as possible when stating what you need and then deal making/negotiating becomes an option, as does opting out.
A Lack of Communication. No one is a mind reader yet we don't communicate what we need, or share what is bothering us, because we're afraid.
Antidote: Ironically, it is our fear that will ultimately cause the demise. When our unmet needs and problems are left to simmer, they create a toxic environment wherein nothing can survive. If stating what you need will catapult your partner to the exit door, then let them go, they're doing you a favor. Don't settle! (It is important to note that how and when you communicate is of crucial importance.).
Downright Neglect. It is so easy to get caught up in our busy lives taking those closest to us for granted, ultimately neglecting them.
Antidote: Pay attention. Both men and women have triggers for neglect. For women, what drives infidelity is when they feel their partner doesn't pay attention to them, or is not interested in them. Men need to have enough sex with their partner to feel connected, and both need to feel appreciated. We all deserve to feel connected, and appreciated.
While being aware of these four usual suspects (all of which apply to all kinds of relationships) may not guarantee an 'A' in life's continuing class of relationships, doing the homework to the best of our abilities will give a relationship a better chance of surviving, and make it a lot more fun and satisfying!