Let’s all agree, being in a relationship is not always easy. And yet, it seems easy in the beginning. With the start of a new relationship, the world feels at your feet as if nothing could separate you and your partner. Why? Because you two share secret looks, inside jokes, breathless kisses and talks that last for hours. It’s fantastic! Why then, if our relationships start off so rosy, do 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce? Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver’s split comes after 25 years of marriage so if a celebrity couple who has battled it all and just celebrated their silver anniversary isn’t safe from splitting up, then is anyone really safe?
Keeping your relationship alive and thriving is not as simple as saying “I do” at the altar and leaving it at that. For example, would you plant an apple seed, watch it for a few hours and expect it to grow into a great, big tree without any other help? Of course not! It needs the proper nourishment. The same is true for your relationship. You have to check back in on your relationship, talk to it, make sure everything is ok, and that it’s not in danger from say… pesky squirrels.
Try to admit to yourself, when was the last time you talked to your significant other about something besides a to-do list or the kids? Happy couples make time to talk on a daily basis about the incidentals of life – they share stories about their day and tell jokes to each other. A little communication goes a long way. If you are use to sharing the trivial and mundane with each other then the building blocks are already set for communicating with your partner if any potential problems arise down the road. The split between Schwarzenegger and Shriver shows that no one is exempt from drifting apart so you have to stay on top of your apple tree otherwise it’ll wither.
To be successful as a couple you have to place your relationship first rather than conflicts. You and your partner have the ability to decide whatever you are in conflict about is NOT more important than keeping your relationship together. Communication and compromises are key to solving conflicts that arise during your relationship. The fact that Schwarzenegger decided to run for office seemed to be a conflict between the couple. When he indeed did win the election the Schwarzenegger-Shriver family didn’t move from their home by the Pacific Ocean in Los Angles to Sacramento and instead Schwarzenegger made the daily commute by private jet. It doesn’t seem like successful communication or compromise was reached for the couple. Everyone wants to follow different paths in life, but as a couple you need to be able to prioritize your relationship into your life. It seems neither Schwarzenegger nor Shriver made their relationship number one in their life.
On my website, askdrpattyann.com, a survey is posted with the question ‘which would you enjoy most if you could only choose one (of the following) today?’ options included extra time with the girls, a huge and kiss from your partner, a moment to enjoy a piece of chocolate and warm beverage, and a compliment from your boss. Yet, six out of seven people voted a kiss and a hug from your partner. So go ahead, do what the Terminator couldn’t, spend some extra time talking to your spouse or give them an extra hug and kiss… or what the heck do both!
Dr. Patty Ann