The Real Relationship Problem
We have a relationship crisis in our society. It’s not because 1 in 2 marriages fail, though that is a sign that our relationship problems are not down to individuals, but something deeper.
If the odd relationship breaks up, that may be down to the people in the relationship. But when half of all marriages and many more relationships fail, that shows us that there is a systemic problem.
The bigger problem though is what relationships do to people. Two good people get together full of love and hope. Yet, if you see them years later it isn’t that the relationship no longer works. Not all relationships will work out. The real problem is the bitterness and hurt that the relationship causes them.
Bitterness and hurt that may cause years of hostility and enmity between them. Often with children stuck in the crossfire, not knowing how to feel or who to side with. Negativity that both carry into future relationships and so infect more people in this cycle of pain.
Everyone that goes through a painful relationship breakup has some trust, faith in human nature and in themself destroyed. Most of us have suffered devastation, pain and loss of confidence after a breakup at least once.
And then they either blame their Ex. Or even worse themself.
Yet all of this is simply because we were given a framework and understanding of relationships that doesn’t work.
Then when the relationship starts to fall apart and they feel bad. They don’t understand why and so they believe either they’re incompatible. Or if there’s too much bitterness they blame the other for how they feel.
It wasn’t them. Nor was there anything wrong with you. You were just trying to make something work that wasn’t possible.
Relationships won’t always work out. But they should never leave you hating your Ex or yourself for how they end up.
It is possible to stay amicable, strong and still move on.
The Problem Of The Gap
Before we can truly appreciate the real problem we have to understand how it impacts us.
There is always a gap between what we know and what we do.
This is because when we’re calm and have time to think logically, we understand that relationships aren’t like fairy tales. Yet, most of the time we’re busy, stressed and emotional. And so we react.
We react from the understanding and frameworks of relationships that is hard wired into our brain.
To really understand what happens in relationships we need to appreciate how people really work.
Ever Wondered why people behave so childishly in relationships?
Life is busy. No one has enough time to really focus. And life in the 21st century has us more scattered and spinning so many plates that we’re just about keeping them going.
There’s a reason that meditation has become popular. And it’s not because we’re getting more zen. It’s because we’re struggling to stay focused.
We believe that we’re making conscious choices, but the reality is that we are constantly reacting.
Our brain is limited in how much it can pay attention to. And so there is a principle Psychologists call Cognitive Economy.
Cognitive economy means in essence that we make things look as much like we expect them to.
Now our basic understanding of relationship was set when we were young.
In fact 70% of our brains hard wiring is set by the age of 7.
Most of what comes after that age is an extension of what was already laid down. So we operate from the understandings of relationships of a 7 year old.
The Fairy Tale Model
When we were 7, we understood relationships from the fairy tales that are universally taught to us. Where Prince meets Princess and after slaying the dragon or wicked witch, they fall in love and live happily ever after.
The fairy tale model teaches us four lessons about relationships…
If we look closely at the culture of our media, you can see that advertisers use this cultural conditioning to sell us perfume, cosmetics and cars.
When people feel their relationship is under threat they hit the gym, have new hairstyles or makeovers.
Yet, it’s very rare that relationships hit the rocks because people find their partners unattractive. It’s usually problems in the relationship that make people less attracted to their partner.
However, we operate from the fairy tale model. And so, women typically try to improve their appearance and men their status. Not because we consciously think about it, but because we operate without thinking very deeply.
The source of relationship problems isn’t usually the people in them. Their behaviour comes from the frustration and disappointment they feel in the relationship and not knowing any better way of dealing with it.
The source of problems is that what we expect from relationships is setting us up for disappointment.
There is a better way…
Understanding The Basis For Relationships
The reality is that all relationships will have problems. No two people will ever have exactly the same vision or view of life. Otherwise we wouldn’t be unique. Life will throw every couple enough challenges to test them over the life of their relationship.
There is no magic chemistry or compatibility that will mean two people are especially right for each other. What there is though, is an algorithm that determines the chances of relationship success.
The more realistic your expectations of your relationship, the more chance it will last.
The more emotionally capacity you have, the more likely you are to be able to maintain the relationship.
The less friction you have in your relationship, the longer it will last.
And so, the better equipped you are for a relationship, the more people you are capable of having a happy and lasting relationship with. The more people you could be happy with, the greater your chance of meeting someone you can be happy in a healthy relationship with.
It all begins with understanding relationships…
THE 4 RELATIONSHIP TRUTHS
The fairy tale model leads to unrealistic expectations. It makes us believe that love is something that happens when we find the magical one that we are meant to be with.
It makes us believe that love is a permanent state rather than a symptom of the state of our relationship. And so we expect unconditional love, when as a species we are unequipped and incapable of providing it.
It makes us believe that relationships are something fated to happen and there is nothing, short of looking beautiful or powerful enough, that we can do to make ours more successful.
I want to share now the 4 real truths of relationships. This is the basis that we need to operate from to be more successful in our relationships.
When we operate from these truths, we have an expectation that we will have to work to make our relationships successful.
We expect that there will be challenges and our partner will not always be perfect and perfectly in love with us.
And most importantly, the…
- 8 Foundational Principles of Relationships,
- 8 Relationship Practices
- 7 Deadly Delusions
give us a pathway to make relationships succeed.