We have now collected over 1,421(!) different answers to our Relationship Performance Quiz (check it out here https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/INSP07X if you haven’t done already).
This is a huge success and the insights are fascinating. Today, my plan isn’t to bore you with mathematics or statistics though. Did I just hear a sigh of relief? 🙂
See below a graph showing that most participants are living in a surviving or just functioning relationship…
Besides the score each participant receives, it is interesting and quite alarming at the same time to read all the questions that people ask me about relationships. And there is a large group of women asking the same thing…
“Why is he such hard work?” or “How could I get him to…” be more of this or less of that.
What I read here is the major frustration amongst women aimed at their partner. Sometimes it sounds like a question about a foreign species of (maybe wild) animals.
And what these questions really show is the deep disconnect between two people who are for better or worse in a long term relationship. There is a deep disconnect between the expectations of how the male partner should behave and the actual reality.
To make one thing very clear from the start: no one is at fault here.
All these women do not have false expectations and all these men don’t behave wrongly. There is a disconnect of expectations and reality and there is an even bigger disconnect between the two partners, because quite obviously they can’t talk to each other about this anymore – maybe they never did.
You know there are three pillars which are crucial for any relationship and these are Quality Time, Talking and Sex/Intimacy. In the beginning of your relationship you had all three. You spent wonderful times together at restaurants, at the beach or just holding hands in the cinema. And you talked. You talked a lot. You talked about everything. Sure enough, you had great sex too. Sometimes it felt as though you couldn’t keep your hands off each other.
Now fast forward this by five months or five years. The sex is probably less exciting. You talk less, because you feel everything has been said already. And you wonder why you should bother going out when you see each other every night and every morning.
Slowly the routine sets in and eventually turns into boredom.
This is where your two paths drift away from each other, and you eventually you find yourself growing apart. Suddenly your partner feels like a stranger and you think “Why is he such hard work?” or “How could I get him to…”
Let me make it very clear – You can’t change the behaviour of the other person. You can only change yourself.
Relationships are hard work. And with more than 25 years of happy marriage under my belt I can tell you it is daily work. But it is the relationship that demands the work, not the other person.
What you can do!
I highly recommend you create an Active Appointment for you and your spouse. An Active Appointment means that you consciously put a date and time into both your calendars for a night out. Leave your phone behind – if you can – and enjoy two, three or four hours away from home just in the company of your partner.
You don’t need to have an agenda – just let it unfold. In the beginning it might feel awkward because it has been so long since you’ve been out together – just the two of you. And it will be natural for the first twenty or thirty minutes for you to just talk about kids, money, work and the household.
Eventually you will come to things that are closer to your heart. What is stressing you right now? What is stressing your partner? Let the natural conversation return. Ask questions. Listen. Let the conversation flow, you used to be able to so easily, you know how to, you’ve just fallen in to the trap of not practicing this skill.
The trick here is to get out of your normal surroundings and also to leave distractions behind (eg. Phone, smart-watches, kids etc).
If you want to read even more about Active Appointments, please download my quick guide here.
Please remember that it takes two to make a relationship work. And both of you are equally responsible.
It is easy – and very human – to say: “if only the other person would be, do or have…” and thereby put your happiness and destiny into the hands of someone else.
Once you accept that it is your choice to be happy, that it is your choice to shape your relationship and that is your choice to change your own behaviour… Once you accept your responsibility you will see that your relationship can and will change.
I’m more than happy to help. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.