In the last of our three-part post, we’ll look at the final two rules for a happy marriage that divorced people shared with Dr. Laura Orbuch during her 25 year marriage study for the National Institutes of Health. If you missed the first two posts, please read them; there’s a lot of wisdom to glean from those who have learned the hard way.
This post, we’ll focus on the fourth and fifth pieces of advice from the study: blame the relationship (not your partner) and reveal more about yourself.
Rule #4 Blame the Relationship (not your partner).
The divorced participants in the study who blamed their exes or themselves had more anxiety, depression and sleep disorders than individuals who blamed the way that they and their partners treated each other or interacted together.
In the study, 65% of divorced individuals blamed their ex-spouses, with more women blaming an ex-husband (80%) than men blaming an ex-wife (47%). And 16% of men blamed themselves, compared with only 4% of women. Dr. Orbuch says the men may simply accept their ex’s view of the breakup. So how does Dr. Orbuch advise couples to blame the relationship rather than each other? She says the first step is to ask your spouse what his or her take is on the situation.
There are multiple ways of seeing a problem,” Dr. Orbuch says. “By getting your partner’s perspective, and marrying it with your perspective, you get the relationship perspective.”
Rule #5 Reveal More About Yourself.
Communication style is the No. 1 thing the study’s divorced individuals said they would change in the next relationship (41% said they would communicate differently).”
To communicate effectively and lovingly, spouses need to reveal more about themselves, not just do “maintenance communication.”
It doesn’t have to be emotional,” Dr. Orbuch says. “But it should be about issues where you learn about what makes each other tick.”
Dr. Orbuch suggests this cool 10-minute rule:
Every day, for 10 minutes, talk alone about something other than work, the family and the kids. No problems. No to-do lists.
You need to tell each other about your lives and see what makes you each tick,” Dr. Orbuch says.
We’ve really enjoyed reading about Dr. Orbuch’s study and we look forward to hearing more about what she’s learned from 25 years of following these people through their marriages and even their divorces. We hope you’ll jot down these 5 rules for a happy marriage and use the practical advice Dr. Orbuch shares. Ed and I are already actively working on Rule #s 1 and 2.