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Last Updated on January 29, 2018

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

Reference

More by this author

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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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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