The Two Questions That Could Protect Your Relationship

The Two Questions That Could Protect Your Relationship

Falling in love is always blissful, perhaps due in part to sweet unpredictability of what lies ahead. Falling out of love on the other hand can vary from a slowly progressing dull ache to an excrutiating, life-sapping mess.

According to a recent study, the slow simmering approach of a relationship breakdown can be predicted up to six years out.

Researchers claim two key questions can predict whether or not a marriage will still be standing six years on.

You would think that predicting happiness, love and relationship staying power would be dizzying in its complexity, but no – the method is gloriously simple and involves two questions:

  1. How happy are you in your marriage relative to how happy you would be if you weren’t in the marriage?
  2. How do you think your spouse answered that question?

The Research. 

Researchers Leora Friedberg and Steven Stern from the University of Virginia analysed data provided by 4,242 couples. Six years later, the couples were asked the same questions. They found that

  • Those who indicated in the first round of questions that they would be just as happy out of the relationship were more likely to have broken up by the follow-up six years later ).
  • Interestingly, those who overestimated their spouse’s happiness were more likely to have divorced within six years than those who simply said they would be happier out of the relationship.

Less than half the participants (41%) were able to accurately gauge how their partner felt about the relationship. 

According to Friedberg and Stern, it’s the lack of insight into a partner’s happiness or unhappiness that is at the heart of many relationship problems.

Without a proper handle on how your partner feels in the relationship, you can wrongly assume that your partner has more to give.

The more a spouse overestimates the happiness of their partner, the more he or she will ask of that partner and potentially push too hard, to the point where the partner feels resentful, distances themselves or makes the decision that the single life would be a better option.

Based on their findings, the researchers suggest that couples should ‘pick their battles’ because pushing too hard all the time will only push a partner away.

We all have plenty to gain by negotiating a little harder, but it seems we also have plenty to lose if we wrongly assume our partner has more to give.

Relationships flourish through conversation. Ask your partner how happy he or she is in the relationship and before asking for more, find out if there’s more to give. There might not be, but that doesn’t necessarily indicate unhappiness with the relationship. Other things – work, family, kids – might be taking more of their share for a while.

Problems come with the assumption that a relationship still sets off butterflies. Maybe it does. And maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it’s more like a bug, and tummy bugs can turn nasty if left.

Dissatisfaction has a way of sneaking into places it’s not welcome, and there’s nowhere it’s more unwelcome than in relationships. 

Turning dissatisfaction around starts by being aware that it’s there. And a gorgeous bunch of flowers won’t hurt. Neither will a special note. Or his favourite homemade meal. Her favourite magazine waiting on the bed would be crazy good.

People change, expectations change and needs change. Relationships can’t help but change in response – but they can change as in flourish or change as in flounder. Relationships go off track when assumptions take the place of conversation. Talk hard, love hard, play hard, and you’ll be there to catch the relationship on the first sign that it might be falling away.

[irp posts=”981″ name=”Desire in Long Term Relationships: Keeping it and Finding it When It’s Gone.”]

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When our kids or teens are struggling, it can be hard to know what they need. It can also be hard for them to say. It can be this way for all of us - we don't always know what we need from the people around us. It might be space, or distraction, or silence, or maybe acknowledging and being there is enough. Sometimes we might need to know that the people we love aren't taking our need for space, or our confusion or anger or sadness personally, and that they are still there within reach.
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What can be easier is thinking about what other people might need. Asking this when they are calm can invite a different perspective and can give you some insight into what they need to hear when they are going through similar. Don't worry if you just get a shrug, or a disheartened, 'I don't know'. They don't need to know, and neither do we. The question in itself might be enough to open a new way through any sense of 'stuckness' or helplessness they might be feeling.
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#parenthood #parenting #positiveparenting #parentingtips #childdevelopment #parentingadvice #parentingtip #mindfulparenting #positiveparentingtips #neurodevelopment #parentingteens
Give them space to talk but you don’t need to fix anything. You’ll want to, but the answers are in them, not us. Sometimes the answer will be to feel it out, or push for change, or feel the futility of it all so the feeling can let go, knowing it’s done it’s job - it’s recruited support, or raised awareness that something isn’t right.

Sometimes the feelings might be seismic but the words might be gone for a while. That’s okay too. Do they want to start with whatever words are there? Or talk about something else? Or go for a walk with you? Watch a movie with you? Or do a spontaneous, unnecessary drive thru with you just because you can - no words, no need to explain - just you and them and car music for the next 20 minutes. 

The more you can validate what they’re feeling (maybe, ‘Today was big for you wasn’t it’) and give them space to feel, the more they can feel the feeling, understand the need that’s fuelling it, and experiment with ways to deal with it. Sometimes, ‘dealing with it’ might mean acknowledging that there is something that feels big or important and a little out of reach right now, and feeling the fullness and futility of that. 

Part of building resilience is recognising that some days are rubbish, and that sometimes those days last for longer than they should, but we get through. First we feel floored, then we feel stuck, then we shift because the only choices we have we have are to stay down or move, even when moving hurts. Then, eventually we adjust - either ourselves, the problem, or to a new ‘is’. But the learning comes from experience.

I wish our kids never felt pain, but we don’t get to decide that. We don’t get to decide how our children grow, but we do get to decide how much space and support we give them for this growth. We can love them through it but we can’t love them out of it. I wish we could but we can’t.

So instead of feeling the need to silence their pain, make space for it. In the end we have no choice. Sometimes all the love in the world won’t be enough to put the wrong things right, but it can help them feel held while they move through the pain enough to find their out breath, and the strength that comes with that.♥️
Speaking to the courage that is coming to life inside them helps to bring it close enough for them to touch, and to imagine, and to step into, even if doesn’t feel real for them yet. It will become them soon enough but until then, we can help them see what we see - a brave, strong, flight-ready child who just might not realise it yet. ‘I know how brave you are.’ ‘I love that you make hard decisions sometimes, even when it would be easier to do the other thing.’ ‘You might not feel brave, but I know what it means to you to be doing this. Trust me – you are one of the bravest people I know.’
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 #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #parentingtip #childdevelopment #braindevelopment #mindfulparenting #parentingtips #parentingadvice
So often, our children will look to us for signs of whether they are brave enough, strong enough, good enough. Let your belief in them be so big, that it spills out of you and over to them and forms the path between them and their mountain. And then, let them know that the outcome doesn't matter. What matters is that they believe in themselves enough to try. 

Their belief in themselves might take time to grow, and that's okay. In the meantime, let them know you believe in them enough for both of you. Try, ‘I know this feels big and I know you can do it. What is one small step you can take? I’m right here with you.’♥️
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 #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #parentingtip #childdevelopment #braindevelopment #mindfulparenting
Anxiety will tell our kiddos a deficiency story. It will focus them on what they can't do and turn them away from what they can. We know they are braver, stronger, and more powerful than they could ever think they are. We know that for certain because we’ve seen it before. We’ve seen them so held by anxiety, and we’ve seen them move through - not every time but enough times to know that they can. Even when those steps through are small and awkward and uncertain, they are brave. Because that’s how courage works. It’s fragile and strong, uncertain and powerful. We know that that about courage and we know that about them. 

Our job as their important adults is to give them the experiences that will help them know it too. This doesn't have to happen in big leaps. Little steps are enough, as long as they are forward. 

When their anxiety has them focused on what they can't do, focus them on what they can. By doing this, we are aligning with their capacity for brave, and bringing it into the light. 

Anxiety will have them believing that there are only two options - all or nothing; to do or not to do. So let's introduce a third. Let's invite them into the grey. This is where brave, bold beautiful things are built, one tiny step at a time. So what does this look like? It looks like one tiny step at a time. The steps can be so small at first - it doesn't matter how big they are, as long as they are forward. 
If they can't stay for the whole of camp, how much can they stay for?
If they can't do the whole swimming lesson on their own, how much can they do?
If they can't sleep all night in their own bed, how long can they sleep there for?
If they can't do the exam on their own, what can they do?
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When we do this, we align with their brave, and gently help it rise, little bit, by little bit. We give them the experiences they need to know that even when they feel anxious, they can do brave, and even when they feel fragile they are powerful.

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