by Garet Bedrosian
I recently read an interesting article, The Decisive Marriage by Tara Parker-Pope. The article is about how couples who are more decisive before marriage have more successful relationships. I am particularly intrigued because I work with so many people interested in finding and keeping happy, intimate, and long lasting relationships.
Their desire to find a partner for a committed relationship has been especially challenging amidst a growing trend toward ’hooking up’ and questioning the logic behind ‘working on’ a relationship. When finding someone for the night is just a ‘swipe’ away, why work any harder? (For those out of the loop, Apps like Tinder allow you, with a swipe on your smart phone, to quickly and anonymously accept or pass on the profiles of people in your area.)
Much of what I hear about dating is tinged with cynicism… “Relationships are too much work.” “I just want to have fun. I don’t want to have to deal with anyone else’s drama.” (meaning needs and emotions) “There are too many women/men out there to settle with just one … or … before I know if there is anyone better.” “I might as well act like a guy and use them like they use us.”
From those interested in finding a committed relationship I hear sadness and resignation… “I don’t think I’ll ever find anyone who wants what I want.” “It’s too painful to put myself out there when all they want is sex.” “I keep dating the same type of guy and I’m tired of it.” “All she wants is a free meal, I might as well get something out of it.” “I thought she really liked me but after a few weeks she stopped answering my calls.” “I thought things were going well. He said he really liked me but as soon as we started getting serious he wasn’t as available. He told me to chill, everything’s fine. I guess I should wait until he’s ready because I really like him. Maybe he’s just scared. Maybe I’m too intense.”
People seem to be confused about whether they are dating, in a relationship or if it’s just a hook up. There seems to be a ‘wait and see’ aura around so many couplings. That lack of clarity may have longer lasting consequences according toTara Parker-Pope who says, “Couples who started out in a casual sexual relationship were less likely to have a high-quality marriage.”
Most of the time people are not willing to wait for the right partner or relationship because they dread the idea of being alone. I recently met a young woman who said, “If I don’t have sex right away, I won’t hear from him again and I’ll be alone.” When I challenged this belief and suggested she could meet someone who wanted what she wanted I was met with a doubt and resistance. She didn’t come back to therapy.
Stephanie Spielmann, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Toronto, found, “During relationship initiation and maintenance, those who fear being single may prioritize relationship status above relationship quality, settling for less responsive and less attractive partners and remaining in relationships that are less satisfying.”
It’s a crazy cycle. Those who are not willing to be alone settle for less than satisfying relationships then they try to change their partners into someone more responsive. That unhealthy pattern then leads to conflict and eventual break up. Those failed relationships then make up the frightening statistics about affairs and high divorce rates that create those cynics who are unwilling to commit to relationships at all.
Fortunately there is hope. If you are looking for a more spiritual or soulful relationship it does take decisiveness and effort to be successful and when you start out on solid ground, with a shared vision, you have a much better chance for longevity.
The latest divorce research supports this theory. Divorce rates have been declining since the late 90’s and early 2000’s and couples married during that time frame are now celebrating 10 to 20 years of marriage. Speculation is that this shift is due to a number of factors including people marring later in life and when they do marry it’s because of love and a shared life purpose rather than for economics or pregnancy which were more prevalent reasons in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.
When someone comes to me because they are ready to find a committed relationship I suggest they start by becoming comfortable with themselves before developing a relationship with anyone else. They need to know who they are and what they really want before a deep bond can be formed with another person. They need to learn how they are consciously or unconsciously contributing to their relational successes and challenges so they can become more mindful about their actions. They need to become committed to discovering what brings them joy, what are their values, bottom lines and deal breakers. Then they need to learn how to communicate their relational desires and visions clearly, respectfully and assertively and to create boundaries that ensure they get what they deserve.
Tara Parker-Pope writes …
“While the finding [of the study] may seem obvious, the reality is that many couples avoid real decision-making. Many couples living together, for instance, did not sit down and talk about cohabitation. Often one partner had begun spending more time at the other’s home, or a lease expired, forcing the couple to formalize a living arrangement.
“Couples who slide through their relationship transitions have poorer marital quality than those who make intentional decisions about major milestones,” (quote from Dr. Rhoades and her colleagues)
For anyone interested in becoming more intentional about finding a loving, committed relationship there are options. You don’t have to settle. Please feel free to contact me for a complimentary consultation and I can help direct you to the right resources.
If you are ready to jump in I have a few immediate options for you …
I will be facilitating a Keeping the Love You Find workshop on July 31st through August 2nd. The Keeping workshop is for individuals (whether in relationship or not) who are interested in getting to know themselves learning about who they are in a relationship, why they might repeatedly choose a certain type of partner … even when they swear they won’t do that again. It also sheds light on how they might be contributing to the problems in their relationships … even when they believe it is all about their partner. I encourage anyone to attend this workshop so they can begin to create what it is they truly desire. Register Here
Also, on August 4th I will be speaking at The Sexy, Bold, and Feminine Gatherings with Caroline Andrews and Katherine Gerardi. This event is free and each of us will be raffling off several amazing items/sessions for $20 a ticket with 100% of the proceeds going to an organization called Women Enough. If you are interested you can register Here
You may also be interested in looking at other offerings for couples on my Workshops Around The World website page.
I’ve coached thousands of individuals in finding loving, committed relationships as well as helping hundreds of couples heal and grow in their current relationships. It would be my honor to help you.