I think we can safely say that the only people who are actually happy in bad marriages are those in good marriages.
In my experience, it’s because when two people are committed to making their marriage work, they do. They have fewer ups and downs. They have more fun together. They’re better at communicating. They don’t take each other for granted.
They don’t get bored with each other. They’re more likely to find the silver lining in every situation. But if you’re not committed, you’re more likely to drift apart—sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly. Some couples don’t even realize they’re drifting apart until they’re already separated. So how do you know if you’re committed or not? Three important principles can help you answer that question:
1. Imagine a future without your partner.
2. Imagine your partner’s success without you.
3. Imagine your partner’s happiness without you. These three questions are the ultimate tests of your commitment to your relationship.
If you can’t imagine yourself happily in the future without your partner, if you can’t imagine your partner succeeding without you, and if you can’t imagine your partner being truly happy without you, then you’re ready to marry. But if you can’t imagine any of those things, then you’re in the wrong relationship: a successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.
And it’s hard to align that with what you think other people want and need, or even who they really are, to know what you might actually be compatible with them.
Most people don’t even think about their relationship preferences until they’re already in a relationship. And those that do often create a fantasy ideal of what their relationship will be like that they then become disappointed in when it doesn’t live up to that ideal. And it’s hard to find out what your needs and preferences are in a relationship until you’re actually in one.
So, why do we not apply the same logic to something as important as a relationship?
The methods we use to find a partner are as unproven and irrational as the methods we use to run a business, but we all still turn to these methods because it’s “conventional wisdom” (i.e. what we’ve always done). How We Got Here We’re taught, from a young age, that there’s a certain way to get a partner. The most common method is to date a bunch of people until you meet a couple that you like equally, then pick one.
In the movie “When Harry Met Sally”, Harry and Sally are so convinced of this way of thinking that they even have a bet about it.
They argue that, if they can’t find a couple equally good as they are, they don’t want to be in a relationship, and they can’t be friends. We think this way because we’re taught to look for “a good fit”, and we’re taught that “a good fit” is achieved by finding someone just like us. This is a myth. The research on this is clear. If you want to have a healthy relationship, you’re best off with a partner who is different than you.
In fact, the one thing that all of the research seems to agree on is that the most important factor in a happy relationship is that the two people involved are happy and compatible. If you’re looking for a happy relationship, you’re looking for someone who is different than you in a way that is important to you. This is often called “opposites attract.” However, we don’t think this way. Instead, we think that “opposites attract,” and that we should look for someone who’s like us, because we’re told that this is the best way to “get a good fit.” This is the conventional wisdom, and it’s wrong. So, let’s take a look at how we got here.
The Golden Age of Relationships
In the Golden Age Of Dating In the 1960’s, a sociologist named Pitrim Sorokin claimed to have discovered that there were 4 distinct stages to the dating process.
In the first stage, he called it “pre-choice,” and it was when people were attracted to an unlimited number of potential partners, and would date many different people.
In the next stage, which he called “choice,” people would narrow down their options to just a few people.
Then, in the third stage, “selection,” people would decide which of these few options were better than others, and then settle on one.
Finally, in the final stage, “adjustment,” people would settle into a long-term relationship and get married. This process, which people took to be “natural,” is the reason why we’re taught to look for “a good fit.” We’re taught that, in the first stage, we have to date a lot of people, then, in the second stage, we have to determine which of these people is the best fit for us, and then, in the third stage, we have to choose one of these options.
The more we’ve learned about relationships over the past five decades, the more it’s clear that the key to a happy relationship has little to do with whether it includes a marriage certificate. If your relationship is secure, caring, respectful, and committed, there’s no reason you can’t continue to be happy and grow together after you say “I do.”
Now, why do I say that secrets are poison to a relationship? Well, because they are. One of the most destructive things that can ever happen to a relationship is for one or both people in the relationship to keep something from the other person.
The reason is that there is a wall built between two people when one keeps something from the other, and that wall is invisible. It’s invisible to the two people that it affects most, and it’s invisible to the people who are outside the relationship.
As a result, there is a distance between the two people affected by the secret, and a distance between the people affected by the secret and the rest of the world. The wall is invisible, but it is also real, and it is very much there. It starts out as a bit of a distance, but it grows the more secrets there are. It grows bigger and bigger, and it grows stronger and stronger. It starts out as a speck of dust, but it grows into a mountain. It starts out as a small wound, but it grows into a cancer.
What’s more, the wall is not just a problem for the couple who share the secret, it is a problem for all the people around them. Even if one of the two people in the relationship is keeping a secret from the other, and that secret is not an affair, the other person can still feel the distance that the secret creates. The secret is still a wall between the two people, and the relationship will still be poisoned.
When picking a partner – in life, work, business, romance – work to keep walls knocked down so that communication can be open and flexible. This will yield the best results over time.