In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to offer insights and strategies to evaluate your relationship, help answer whether or not you should get married and perhaps even reveal some of the reasons your previous relationship or marriage failed!
First a quick update:
**** More harm & danger from labeling – Jerry Sandusky (former longtime defensive coordinator for the Penn State University football team) is on trial for 51 counts alleging that he abused 10 boys over 15 years. His defense presented Elliot Atkins, a psychologist in private practice, who claims Sandusky suffers from Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD.) About 80% of people diagnosed with HPD are women; men diagnose HPD a lot in women, and female psychologists diagnose it three times as much in men. HPD is not a scientifically based diagnosis or label and its origins stem from another label – “Female Hysteria.” Read my article “When medicine and psychology got it really wrong” – http://patrickwanis.com/blog/when-medicine-and-psychology-got-it-really-wrong/
Now, let’s talk about insights and strategies to evaluate your relationship, help answer whether or not you should get married and perhaps even reveal some of the reasons your previous relationship or marriage failed!
It’s an extraordinary misconception: ‘We are having troubles and arguments but, I know it will all work out once we are married.’
Many couples are fooled into thinking that the security of a relationship – such as a serious or binding commitment will automatically or magically resolve the current problems, discords or arguments.
Of course, that is a false.
Problems and clashes in a relationship only worsen once the commitment has been made (such as marriage) and expectations are accordingly raised even higher. And issues not even addressed prior to marriage can easily become the wedge that splits the relationship.
Divorce attorneys cite clashes over money and sex as the top two reasons that couples divorce. The third reason is children. Children can bind or divide husband or wife. Other reasons for divorce and marriage-breakdown include clashing and incompatible personality types, communication styles, conflict-resolution styles or religious beliefs. (Read my article “What is your money personality?” http://patrickwanis.com/blog/what-is-your-money-personality/ )
Current statistics estimate that about 60% of all remarriages eventually end in divorce. And about 65% of remarriages involve children from the prior marriage and form blended families. In other words, most people fail to learn from the mistakes they made in their first marriage or fail to resolve the deeper underlying emotional and psychological issues that eventually result in broken marriages.
The first step to success in any relationship is to become clear about whom you are and what you want. The second step is to become clear about your partner – whom he/she is and what he/she wants.
Do you both share the same vision, core values and lifestyles?
One of my clients has been struggling in his present relationship because he is now in a blended family – he has a child from a previous marriage, his girlfriend has two children from a previous marriage and they are now considering marrying and having a child together. The challenge is their completely dissimilar style of raising children which is already causing tremendous arguments; they also continue to lose respect for each other based on their differing viewpoints and opinions about how the children should be raised – education, discipline and faith.
The answer is to take a detailed and thorough personal inventory and/or a premarital inventory to help identify potential problems and issues in your relationship. You can also consider using an inventory as a form of marriage enrichment by quickly identifying the differences between you and your partner, and then, choosing to address them accordingly.
There are three key premarital inventories to consider:
- FOCCUS Pre-Marriage Inventory — Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding & Study
Developed in 1986 – Five versions starting with 156 questions in 19 categories including communication issues, finances, sexuality, interfaith relationships, cohabitation consequences and so forth. A 1995 study by Purdue University revealed that FOCCUS was 80% accurate at predicting couples’ satisfaction by their five-year anniversary.
- PREPARE/ENRICH Premarital Inventory
Created in 1980 – 195 statements addressing marriage expectations, personality, communication, conflict resolution, finances, fun activities, sexuality parenting, family & friends, spirituality, and so forth
- RELATE – Relationship Evaluation Questionnaire
Developed by the Marriage Study Consortium at Brigham Young University- First version released in 1980 – 271 questions/items addressing issues of communication, conflict management, consensus building, family-of-origin, personality traits, and so forth
Although FOCCUS is promoted by the Catholic Church, the inventory acknowledges a range of behaviors that contradict Catholic teachings such as artificial birth control, premarital sex and homosexuality.
Here is just a sample of some of the questions/statements from FOCCUS that are answered as Agree, Disagree or Uncertain.
- We are in agreement about the husband and wife roles each of us expects of the other in our marriage relationship
- There are qualities about my future spouse that I do not respect
- We have discussed the ways our families solved problems and how this may affect our problem solving
- We disagree with each other over some teachings of the church
- My future spouse and I have agreed we will not have children
- I am concerned that in-laws may interfere in our marriage relationship
- My future spouse and I can talk about our sexual fears, hopes and preferences
- We are in agreement about how we will make financial decisions between us
- I sometimes feel that this may not be the right person for me to marry
- My future spouse and I agree that our marriage commitment means we intend to pledge love under all circumstances
This sample of categories from the FOCCUS Pre-Marriage Inventory helps to identify areas that every couple needs to address prior to committing or to marriage:
- Life Style Expectations
- Friends and Interests
- Personality Match
- Personal Issues
- Problem Solving
- Religion and Values
- Extended Family
- Marriage Readiness
- Marriage Covenant
- Key Problem Indicators
- Family of Origin
- Dual Careers
- Interfaith Marriages
- Cohabiting Couples
Regardless of which premarital inventory you choose, it is critical to remember that the results and findings of the inventory do not resolve your issues but they do help you to determine which areas you need to address now, whether or not you are truly ready to marry, or if your partner is even the right match for you. Be prepared and willing to ask and answer the tough questions now, otherwise you will pay the price later!
One of the best places to begin to help you understand yourself and others is to understand your personality type. Take the personality test here:
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist