Sunday, January 25, 2009



”What you can do I can do better! No you can’t, yes I can, no you can’t, yes I can!”

This chant was in a commercial many years ago between the basketball great Michael Jordan and the soccer great Mia Hamm (Mariel Margaret Hamm).

Even though I loved this commercial, it pitted one super athlete against another in many different scenarios; unfortunately, this attitude also embodies how many couples behave in their relationship – as if they were playing a game to see who will be the winner.

In my practice I have worked with many couples. Such problems I hear of: ”Why does he or she behave the way he or she behaves? Why is he or she looking/ wanting to be with someone else? Why are we arguing all the time? I am ‘trying’ to love him or I am ‘trying’ to love her but he or she won’t cooperate. She does this that irritates me or he does that which frustrates me. It is just a constant battle between us!”

After all of the bickering and the going back and forth, and both telling me who’s to blame, ultimately, the question eventually comes to: How can we make our relationship better?

Before I get into that, I will share some information to get your gray cells spinning.

The divorce rate in America is about 50% (and that’s only for the first marriage). Men and women are constantly at each other’s throats over small things.

People, we have a serious problem and we (both men and women) are to blame – there is enough finger-pointing to go around.

Below are the Divorce Rate Statistics of 1st, 2nd and 3rd Marriages.
• Divorce rate in America after first marriage is from 41% to 50%.
• U.S divorce rate after second marriage is from 60% to 67%
• After 3 marriages the U.S divorce rate is from 73% to 74%

According to a Healthy Living website, here are the Top Ten Reasons for Divorce:

1. Lack of commitment towards marriage, sexual incompatibility and infidelity
2. Lack of communication between spouses
3. Abandonment, alcohol addiction and substance abuse
4. Physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse
5. Inability to manage and resolve conflict
6. Differences in personal and career goals
7. Different expectation about household tasks and financial problems
8. Intellectual incompatibility and inflexibility
9. Mental instability and mental illness
10. Religious belief, cultural and lifestyle differences

With the exception of point number 9 above, I have experienced each of these issues first hand with the various couples I’ve worked with over the years. By far, lack of commitment, lack of communication, inflexibility, and the inability (or desire) to manage and resolve conflict are the issues I have seen happen the most.

Think of this: why do we (both men and women) spend so much time, money and effort searching for each other – we go to clubs, pubs, and parties, dating services, blind dates and social groups – just to argue, fuss and fight when we finally get with each other? And if the relationship ends in divorce (heaven forbid), we do the same things all over again in search of the next companion, or should I say, the next competitive match. Many times we take our negative issues from one relationship to the next relationship.

Have you ever heard the saying, ‘I am looking for my soul-mate’? It is a very common expression.

What does that actually mean? Does it mean that only one person on the face of this planet has a similar soul as I? Does it mean that I am looking for a carbon copy of myself? Does it mean that if someone thinks differently than I do, I will give that person pure hell? Does it also mean that only 50% of the American population that is still married has been lucky enough to have found their soul mate…or have they just not mustered the courage to leave?

When I think of the word ‘soul-mate’ (by the way, this word is not on the Top Ten list of reasons for divorce), I also think of the word compatibility (and incompatibility is down the list at number eight). Finding my soul-mate is the same as finding someone compatible to me.

Let’s face it, men and women are the most intelligent creatures on this planet. We have the ability to adapt to any surrounding, culture, language, situation or environment; yet we complain about our mate (which means we complain about ourselves because we married or decided to have a relationship with the mate) or a potential mate who comes from the same country, state, town, city, schools, speaks the same language and has the same accent, the same or similar career, lifestyle, goals, educational background, religion, and finally, the same ideals. Could you get any more compatible?

If two people have all of this compatibility (in other words, he or she has found his soul-mate), why do we have so much divorce/separation in our society? Am I looking to date myself?

If I am looking for more of a carbon-copy of me, I need to consider first - have I not been upset with some of the choices that I have made in my life? If so, this would mean that if I find someone who is exactly the same as I am in every way, I will probably be upset with some of her choices as well.

Why wouldn’t I cut my mate some slack?

Here is a secret:

Successful relationships (like anything else) require work from both parties – especially after the Honeymoon Stage is over. This is the stage of the relationship between the time when you first met your mate until about a year or so later, depending on the couple. During this time, your new mate can do no wrong – he or she can walk on water in your eyes.

Do you still remember that time when you felt butterflies in your stomach when you saw, heard or even thought of your mate? The time when you were inseparable – talking on the phone for hours when you were apart, e-mailing and text messaging all day, holding hands, eating out of the same bowl, sipping from the same glass, taking showers together, giving each other massages, feeding each other grapes over a candle-lit fire – you know, those times?

But what happens after the Honeymoon Stage when the couple begins to ‘settle’ in and REALLY get to know each other? Believe it or not, however, even though the Honeymoon Stage may have worn off, the relationship isn’t over – there is still fun to be had.

To make our relationships run smoother, we must first understand who we are and who we are dating or married to. To do this, we need to take a look at the basic differences between men and women to help us appreciate each other more.

But time’s up for this blog – so tune back in next week to learn about what makes men and women so different and how, despite these differences, they can make a relationship work!

John Owens
Clinical Hypnotherapist & Life Coach
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