Could Math Have Predicted My Divorce?
When I first saw a headline in the Wall Street Journal for an article that discussed relationships in terms of math, I was skeptical. It’s difficult for me to connect concrete things like math and science to something so abstract and subjective as the concept of love. My brain doesn’t work that way.
The article detailed how a mathematician and a psychologist teamed up to examine, video tape and analyze over 100 couples to see how they interacted with each other in various scenarios to see if they could predict divorce. They noted a generic conversation, a sharing of happy news, and a disagreement.
Turns out, they were spot on. Every couple they said would get divorced, did. Having been married twice, I was intrigued.
Thinking about it, I am certain that if you put my ex-husband and I in a room together and videotaped us having any kind of conversation for 30 minutes, you would conclude, very quickly, that our marriage didn’t stand a chance. You’d be right.
There is one truth about successful relationships and marriages. Everything is doomed to fail unless communication is on point. Communication is the cornerstone of all human relationships.
People are willing to list a whole slew of things that make a successful relationship. Common interests, shared values, similar political views. To me, none of this is meaningful unless you have communication.
I don’t think that people need to be remarkably similar in order to successfully be together. How do you disagree is far more important than whether or not you agree.
The ability to talk openly about differing opinions in a respectful manner is important. It doesn’t matter how similar you are, eventually you’re going to disagree about something. Eventually emotions will conflict. Feelings will be hurt.
I am absolutely sure that if somebody would have sat my ex-husband and I down and videotaped us during an argument and then made me watch it, I would’ve seen the writing on the wall. I wish someone would have done that. It would have been a kindness to us both.
He’s a good person but a horrible communicator. There would be times that I poured my heart out and tried to express an emotion, in the truest way I could, and I was met with a stone wall. He had no idea how to react to me so he wouldn’t. He shut down. The hurt I felt afterwards was overwhelming.
The strength of relationships has nothing to do with superficial compatibility. It’s all in how you fight. There’s nothing wrong with fighting. It’s actually remarkably healthy. It’s whether you to get into the mud together and come out clean.
I found it interesting that couples who argued more often about smaller things were the ones who would succeed. It makes perfect sense. They were willing to head things off at the pass. Stop them before the became big things. Nothing good ever comes from keeping emotion bottled up.
Being able to speak and listen, in a kind an open-hearted manner, and provide a space of validation, breaks down just about any barrier or wall that can exist in a relationship.
After two failed marriages, I have thrown much of what people would say would make a successful relationship out the window. I am tossing aside my own preconceived notions, as well. I used to have a long list of things I was looking for in a partner.
These days I care less what he does for a living, if his family is like mine, whether he likes the same music I do, or whether he fits in a narrowly specified age range. I want someone who can talk to me. I love that math and science are on my side.