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Why a Lot of Relationship Experience Doesn’t Equate to a Great Marriage

Why a Lot of Relationship Experience Doesn’t Equate to a Great Marriage

The old school romantic notion of marrying before sex is almost an antique relic. Fully 95% of Americans have had premarital sex. Most men will have had at least 6 relationships, and women 5 before tying the knot. What does all of this experience mean for marriage quality?

At the very least, divorces have been going down since the 1980’s. Even though people continue to use the false “50% of marriages end in divorce” statistic, marriages have been improving for decades.

Whenever the subject of marriage gets brought up, you can be sure that someone will argue against the institution by trotting out the most famous of famous statistics: half of marriages end in divorce. This seems like a slam dunk factoid as to why folks should avoid the altar. There’s just one problem: it isn’t true and hasn’t been for awhile now. – Bret & Kate, The art of Manliness

This may not correlate to people getting more relationship experience, but it doesn’t seem to be a negative. Let’s jump into how a lasting relationship works, and whether or not more more experiences can mean healthier marriages.

They Key to a Lasting Relationship Is Personal Growth

Healthy relationships are not complicated, but people are. A lot of the mystique about healthy relationships has to do with focusing on the wrong things. Many people blame external sources for their failures and successes.

The first place to start a healthy relationship is by taking a good look at ourselves. When things are going wrong it’s too easy to blame others. In relationships, two halves don’t make a whole. Instead, two whole people compliment each other.

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Whatever baggage we bring into our relationships is going to affect their longevity and quality. This is why a commitment to personal growth is so important. The better we are, the better the people we’ll attract, and the better our romances will be.

This will affect how our relationship experiences play into a marriage. Better quality experiences will teach an observant person better lessons. For a better experience, work on yourself first.

A couple personal skills which can play into a relationship include:

  • Confidence: The way you feel about yourself is going to have a direct effect on the people in your life. Overcoming shyness, building self esteem, and and having a healthy self image are crucial. You’re less likely to stay in a bad relationship if you feel good about yourself.[1]
  • Social skills: Being able to read people and understanding the best way to get a message across are big. Without good people skills, it’s hard to let others know how we feel and to understand how they feel. Learning how to positively influence others can help a long term relationship.

It’s Not About Having More, It’s About Learning Wisely

Does the number of relationships we have contribute to a better marriage? Yes and no.

Experience is how we learn. We can get good at almost anything by dedicating time and effort. We can also spend a lot of time doing something and still be horrible. Think bad drivers; many have been on the road for decades and still resemble go cart racers.

For relationship experience to count, we have to be active learners. It’s not enough to simply have relationships. We have to be conscious observers and turn off the autopilot.

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Some people learn from experiences and get better. Others learn bad behaviors and repeat them in every relationship. One disaster after another; dating narcissists, manipulators, and psychopaths doesn’t help us.

To learn from a healthy relationship, stay away from toxic people. Chances are that if you keep ending up with toxic personalities, there’s a lesson about your own personality that you’re missing.

“It’s about the individual. Some people are ready to meet ‘the one’ right away; others need more relationships under their belt to learn what works and what doesn’t.” – Charlee Brotherton

More relationship experiences can be great if we learn lessons from those relationships. Often times those lessons are about ourselves. The way to make it count is to act on your new knowledge. Fill in the gaps to make yourself better for your current or next relationship.

Getting some sexual experience, learning to communicate, set boundaries, and gaining clarity on who and what you want in a relationship can all contribute to a better marriage.

The key here isn’t necessarily having more relationships, it’s learning from the ones you do have. Some people may go through more experiences to absorb the same lessons.

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Prepare Yourself for a Loving Relationship

People make plans for all sorts of things but often neglect their personal lives. If you go to a personal trainer, he’s going to set a diet plan, workout schedule, and rest intervals. If building a better body is worth making a plan, why don’t we have action plans for our love lives?

Knowing a few stats can help make a better plan. So can experiencing multiple relationships or focusing on a few, high quality romances. Either way, learning from our experiences while growing into a better person is going to have the biggest effect.

Understand the Reality of Relationships

A lot of people run on autopilot and make no effort to learn what it takes to have a successful marriage. Recognize the differences between men and women to better understand sexual polarity, attraction, and our different needs.[2]

Pay attention to your relationships and build the skills you need for the long run. Be a student of life for the best results.

Be Patient for the Right Partner

Don’t settle for second best. This is one area where dating multiple partners can pay off. It’s often necessary to play the field to find the right partner. What a lot of people do is settle for whomever gives them some attention. This is needy behavior and won’t help to make a strong marriage.

It’s perfectly possible to marry the first person you date and do well, but more often than not it’s pure luck. Expand your options so you can pick the right person for you.

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Don’t Rush to the Altar

Rushing into a marriage can have numerous consequences. For one, it takes years to really get to know someone. All sorts of things will boil to the surface after spending years with an individual. Second, waiting a few years can teach you how to navigate a relationship.

“Dating 3 or more years before getting engaged leads to a much more stable marriage. This finding probably comes as no surprise, but it should stand as a warning to those who are eager to get married right away. Don’t jump into marriage before you really get to know someone.” – Randal Olsen

Here’s one factor where multiple relationships aren’t an advantage. We can learn important lessons by sticking with the same person.

Commit to Personal Growth

Probably the most important factor of all. No relationship is going to survive a bad character. It’s important to look to yourself for the causes of any problems.

Not taking full responsibility for our outcomes means bouncing from one relationship to another, never getting what we want. After all, wherever you go, there you are, and your problems too. Carrying our baggage from one relationship to another is a sure way to poison the well.

By committing to personal growth you’ll learn about yourself, other people, and important life skills. Being our best selves means we’ll have more to offer our ideal partner.

Featured photo credit: Carly Rae Hobbins, Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Eddy Baller

Dating & Confidence Coach

emotional intelligence How to Be More Sensitive for an Emotionally Insensitive Person Why Empathy Is Both the Hero and the Villain in a Relationship marriage longevity Why a Lot of Relationship Experience Doesn’t Equate to a Great Marriage

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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