I’m not talking about job applications here. I’m talking about knowing what is the correct path for yourself in terms of relationships: how you SHOULD be acting; what you SHOULD be thinking; and then recognizing the WHEN.
For example, you must educate yourself on how to maintain good communication with your partner. I feel incredibly fortunate to have a spouse with whom I find it easy to connect. I’d be a fool to think our marriage can always be this easy. That’s not to say we don’t put time and work in; we set aside time to be together without anyone else around, even if that’s just 15 minutes on a weekend morning or during the drive to work on a weekday. Thanks to texts and email, we are able to communicate well and often even when we’re not together physically. And even when together physically we occasionally text and email so as to have private conversations when there are small ears listening in.
Husband and I have faced adversity, financial and emotional and otherwise, and we have done well. I hope we can continue to do so, that we can always weather these storms together and come out the other end without any resentment or hurt feelings. Again though, I would be a fool to assume this will be the case 100% of the rest of our life together. And when we do hit a rough patch, I hope hope hope we are able to recognize and apply a little understanding and sensitivity toward each other as we have in the past, so as not to weaken the metaphorical fabric of our union.
The important differences in this marriage (as opposed to my first marriage) are that I know myself a lot better than I used to, I am able to ask for what I want and need (because I know my spouse will listen and respond – I don’t need to shout or repeat myself), and we have a great friendship underneath the romantic layer of marriage. This is a friendship in which we want the very best for each other, we want each other to succeed, and we are each other’s favorite person without a doubt.
If your marriage/long term relationship is in trouble, no matter how much you try to improve it you can succeed only if both people recognize the need to change behavior and then actively work to do that. But even the hardest working couple cannot overcome incompatibility. Dr. Gottman has very useful advice, but that advice will get you only so far. You cannot improve a relationship with just one person trying to do so, and if you are incompatible with your partner, no amount of trying and changing and communicating is going to put you in sync with each other. Love is simply not sufficient to make a long-term relationship work.
I’ll leave you with a few links to an author who has conducted decades of research on relationships. He provides methods to ensure you are marrying the right person AND how to keep your marriage a happy and fulfilling one: