5 ways to suck less at marriage

We generally suck at relationships, take that into our marriages and then actually expect them to last!

While relationships are actually paramount in our lives, the truth is we suck at them. When you look at how many relationships we have it dawns on us that they are actually rather important. We have relationships with our maker, our parents, our siblings, our teachers, fellow students, our ministers, our aunts and uncles, our grandparents, our bosses, our colleagues at work, our customers, our children and a myriad of other permutations of the above.

Now consider this. We leave our parents and our kids leave us. Our siblings usually are not our closest friends as life progresses. Remember all your friends from matric? How you promised to stay in touch? Did you? You probably don’t even really keep in touch with your best friend from school anymore. Now look at all of your ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends. How many times have you left someone or had someone leave you? How many jobs have you had? How many of them started off well and then ended with you leaving? How many friends have you lost? How many deals have you lost because you messed up a business relationship?

We all know that the divorce statistics are around 50%. Half of the people who marry leave each other, and that’s after promising GOD they would stay together for better or worse, in good times and bad!

I met a couple last week to discuss marrying them. This was her 2nd marriage and his 3rd. I asked what they felt about marriage coaching and he looked me in the eye and said, “Thank you but we know what we are doing”. I just nodded sagely. In my mind they are unconsciously incompetent.

When one looks at success people, especially in business (and yes, success is different to everyone), the most successful people have a few things in common:

  1. They have a vision and a mission
    1. What is your vision for your marriage?
    2. What is your mission for your marriage?
    3. What are your long, mid and short term goals for your marriage?
  2. They do what they love, and love what they do
  3. They do what it takes no matter what, especially the uncomfortable stuff
  4. They are committed to continuous learning and improvement
    1. The most successful people on earth never stop learning
    2. They invest in themselves
    1. The best sportsmen in the world all have coaches (Tiger woods has a coach)
    2. The best speakers in the world all have coaches
    3. The richest people in the world can all tell you who it was that mentored them
  1. I know one millionaire who has a health coach, a business coach, stock trading coach, a spiritual guru, a personal development coach and a relationship coach. AND HE IS A COACH (and a millionaire).

So how does one move from unconsciously incompetent (which most of us are in our relationships) to unconsciously competent or at the very least, consciously competent (which most of us are not)?

  1. Realise you could do with some help
    1. I believe that even the best relationship can be improved
    2. I have a great marriage but am always looking for ways to improve it
  2. Look into the future and see the benefits of an extraordinary marriage
    1. Improved physical health
    2. Improved mental health
    3. Improved emotional well being
    4. Lots of yummy sex
    5. A happy home for your children
    6. Better friendships
    7. More effective at work (more promotions, opportunities and money)
  3. Get some help
    1. Getting help does not mean that your marriage is in trouble or failing
    2. Working on your marriage is the greatest gift you can give each other
    3. Find someone you relate to, who is making it work and who can teach you something
    4. My “Building Blocks to an extraordinary Marriage” comes highly recommended J
  4. Agree to working on improving your marriage for ever
    1. Go to personal development classes together
    2. Develop Spiritually together
    3. Marriage is like a well-run business
      1. You have to manage it properly
      2. You actually have to be there to make it work
  • It needs constant focus
  1. You need to re-invest in it constantly (money, emotion, time, thought)
  2. It is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling
  1. Committing to enjoying the good times together, to working through the bad times, to courageously having the difficult conversations and holding each other accountable, to seeing marriage as an equal partnership and to completing the journey together.

Where are you on the marriage competency grid?

Email me for a copy of my marriage competency exercise at: stephen@stephenvanbasten.co.za


About Stephen van Basten - The Marriage Expert

When you meet Stephen van Basten you instantly realize that there is more to him than meets the eye. This is not a moment to judge a book by its cover. Stephen boasts a list of achievements: He met his wife, Jacqui, 27 years ago, married her 21 years ago and is the proud father of a 'very together' 18 year old daughter. Stephen will immediately tell you with a twinkle in his eye, that Life, Work, Marriage and Parenthood are not for sissies. That while they are all hard work, they can be, and should be, incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. Stephen is a past Karate World Champion, a yoga enthusiast and recovering golfer. If you opened Trip Advisor on his facebook page you will see that he has visited 81 cities in 52 countries including the USA, Alaska, Japan, Europe, Australia and China. Stephen has owned his own company, worked in his family's business, being employed by small and large businesses like Shell SA and the BTG Group. His titles include Brand Manager, Sales Manager, Account Manager, Sales Representative and Business Owner. He now sees himself as an Author, Speaker, Trainer and Coach. Stephen published his first book, "So you're engaged, now what? The journey from engaged to married" in December 2013. His ingenious marketing strategy put this book into over 2000 hands in its first 6 months. His second book "So you're alive, now what? The journey from birth to death" is available online and he is working on 5 more books in the series including "So you're married, now what?". Stephen's obvious passion and first love is Human Behavior and specifically Human Behavior as it manifests in RELATIONSHIPS. He is quick to point out that we have many differing relationships: employer, employees, customers, suppliers, colleagues, friendships, marriage, parents, siblings, children, our maker, other drivers on the roads and we generally have issues in most if not all of them. Stephen is a student of the well-known human behavior specialist, Dr. John Demartini and is constantly researching and honing his understanding of this incredibly complex subject. In 2013 he completed over 175 hours of intense training on T. Harv Eker's signature courses.
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One Response to 5 ways to suck less at marriage

  1. lol, I find it amusing that, on his third marriage, he said he knew what he was doing. It’s statistically proven that every time you divorce, your chances of divorcing AGAIN pretty much double.
    My husband and I just got married a couple of years ago. We had excellent preparation. He’s been my best friend since we were kids. But I’ve been surprised at some things. Like that I have to make an effort to talk about my feelings. And that him correcting me and me correcting him is always a super big deal, and that it’s really hard for me to take his criticism (because I’m an artist, I have to ask for it frequently).
    A lot of people told us a lot of different things before we got married, but most of the problems other people had didn’t happen with us. The pastor who did our marriage counseling did bring up a lot of good stuff, though, because he knew Matt well and was invested in making sure we were prepared for marriage (he had never had a couple divorce after going through his counselling, ha ha).
    Anyway, good post!

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