When I meet with couples or individuals about their relationships they wonder about their future.
"Will we stay together?"
"Will I get hurt?"
"Will he change?"
These questions are ones that we all wrestle with. No one wants to get hurt. No one gets married thinking, "I'm excited to get divorced in 3 years."
But it still happens. According to the American Psychological Association, about 50% of marriages end in divorce. See what they have to say about it here.
There is a lot within your power to prevent your relationship from falling apart. But, in the end, it requires two people, so you can't force it to work.
Veronica Mars said "Love is an investment, and information is insurance."
I could not agree more with that statement. Veronica and come from very different standpoints on the issue. (She said it out of bitterness.) But it is still truth. Information IS insurance, but it is NOT a guarantee.
The reason I believe information is insurance is because a person's past is a pattern and a predictor of their future.
If you are dating a guy and he cheats on you once, the pattern has been established and people are creatures of pattern. He'll likely do it again.
If you are with someone who loves gaming, they'll likely spend many many hours of their future engaging with their Xbox.
If you are with a girl who calls her mom every 5 minutes- that's not likely to change- even if you get married.
Sometimes, these things even become more extreme.
I'll give you a personal example of a pattern growing more extreme in my own life.
When we got married, my husband knew that I didn't like going to the doctor and I didn't like taking over the counter medication. These were facts that had been established and he was aware of.
Then, about six months into our marriage I was introduced to essential oils. I fell in love with them because they offered me an alternative. Now I have essential oils all over my house and I put in a monthly order. This looks like change. 2 years ago I didn't have essential oils all over my house or make my own cleaning supplies, but actually, it is a continuation and deepening of the pattern that I had already established in my life.
Our patterns deepen and continue unless we actively do something to change them.
A pattern of holistic health is something that I'm comfortable with, so I'm okay with that pattern deepening in my life. But what about the patterns that we don't feel comfortable about? Things like: avoiding hard conversations, passive-aggressive texts, workaholic patterns, body image obsession, etc. will not change naturally.
If it is your pattern, then you have the power to change it. If it is your partner's pattern, then you have the power to choose what you'll do about it.
Here are two questions you can ask to get some of that information insurance.
1) What are my patterns now? If I look a few years into the future, what might the impact of these patterns deepening be?
2) What are my partner's patterns now? What is her response when things don't go her way? What does he do with work stress?
Keep in mind that the patterns will LIKELY deepen with time. Make sure that when you're choosing your partner you know their patterns. You get to choose your partner! They get to choose their patterns.
I'll end with a piece of hope.
Patterns ARE changeable. If I didn't believe that then I wouldn't be a couples therapist. If you want to change a pattern you have to begin by looking at it.
If you want help with this or desire to dive deeper, feel free to contact me.
Until next time- pay attention to your patterns,