“Statistics have shown that in the U.S. 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second, and 73% of third marriages end divorce.” psychologytoday.com
This topic has been on my mind recently as I see many clients and friends who are going through divorce. As an NLP Trainer and Coach I look for patterns; patterns of language and behaviour, and it doesn’t take long for me to see the patterns of behaviour that lead to the reasons that marriages fail and second marriages are even less successful than first marriages.
In first marriages, people have their trainer wheels on and are just learning the ropes. So people may not yet know what their non-negotiables are until they encounter them. People have consciously and unconsciously learnt patterns of relationship behaviours from their own upbringing and have both conscious and unconscious beliefs about how one should be treated in a relationship, how one should treat others in a relationship, how one should bring up children, etc. When they enter a marriage they think they have a “map” of what marriage will be like, but what about the other person’s “map”? There is a saying in life coaching, “the map is not the territory”. What this means is that you have a map made up of your ideals, your beliefs and your experiences about what the territory (in this case – marriage) should be like, but your partner also has a “map” made up of their own ideals, beliefs and experiences of what they think marriage should be.
You have both come into the marriage with what you think are the same maps for navigating this territory called “marriage”, but the maps could be as different as if one of you has a map of Sydney and the other has a map of Timbuktoo! You may think you are on the same page, as your maps both say “Marriage” on the front cover, but the contents could be two entirely different geographies!
So problems ensue, and you both do your best to navigate your way over the bumpy, sometimes desolate, sometimes tropical terrains of the territory called “marriage”. Kids come along and so despite the difficulties you try even harder to keep it all together for the sake of the kids. The average length of marriage in Australia is 12 years. (Aust Bureau of Statistics 2017).
By the time a person gets married for the second time, they are clearer on their non-negotiables and therefore basically are not prepared to put up with so much the second time around. They begin to identity negative patterns of behaviour repeating in their second marriage and so get out quicker.
What interests me here is: why are these negative patterns repeating in the second marriage?
My observations are that people leave their first marriage, blaming their partner for all the problems, and think they will choose better next time. But unless a person is willing to take some time out to do some work on themselves, they are going to attract the same type of person again. Why? Because unless you change your beliefs about yourself and about how other people should treat you and how other people should behave in a relationship with you, you will unconsciously continue to attract the same type of person, over and over again. How many people do you know who keep attracting the same kind of toxic relationships in their life, over and over again?
As individuals we need to take responsibility for our relationships, all of them, and investigate why the past relationship happened and what key learnings can we take away from it.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to work on yourself first, and then go out onto the dating scene, to attract a different kind of partner. When your energy shifts, when you have more self-respect, a clear understanding of your boundaries, a clear perspective of your innate value and lovableness, then you will attract a completely different partner than you have in the past.
I see people who have barely broken up with their spouse and they are already out on the dating scene, inviting in all kinds of partners into their life without first protecting their own energy and being strong and centred within themselves. Many are going through really difficult times with their divorce and their children are also going through difficult times coping with new arrangements, and yet they are running into the arms of another partner, instead of just stopping and taking stock of what’s happened, learning from past mistakes before moving forward to create a new future.
We say “Love Me!” to someone, demanding that of someone else, but are we able to demand that of ourselves first? Can you give that love to yourself before you give it to someone else? If not, why not?
It’s ok to be alone for a period of time to allow time for introspection, meditation, prayer, personal development, study and learning for both healing and growth.
It’s also very ok to be in another relationship. We all need love and connection. But before you rush out to find your soulmate, I invite you to get out your journal (What? You don’t have one? Then invest in one! 😉 ) and answer the following questions:
1. Am I really ready to bring someone new into my life or am I just lonely?
2. Have I learnt all the lessons I needed to learn and have I healed the past?
3. What was it that attracted me to my last partner?
4. What was it about my beliefs about myself that lead me to allow this person into my life?”
5. Do I want those beliefs moving into my next relationship, or do I need different beliefs?
6. What can I change about myself to improve this relationship?” Or if you are single, “What can I change about myself to ensure that I am cautious and only allow in a person who will be good for me?”
7. Am I able to look at myself in the mirror and say “I like you?” or do I need to do some work on my own self-respect?
8. What are the qualities of my ideal partner? (And its not just about the external stuff, how good looking they are or how wealthy they are, but How do you want them to make you feel? It’s the good, positive feelings in your ideal relationship that you want to focus on. )
9. What are my non-negotiables in a partner, in a relationship and how my children are treated?
10. Are my boundaries strong so that I don’t let anyone in who breaks my non-negotiable codes?
11. Who do I need to be, what do I need to do, to have the type of relationship I want to have?
If you can’t be yourself with another person, please don’t marry them! It shows that you are sacrificing parts of yourself only to satisfy a need to not be alone. This will lead to trouble in the relationship and dissatisfaction within yourself.
Please get comfortable with being alone in the short term, and do the work on yourself, so that you are coming from a place of strength and confidence and self-respect, so that you attract a partner who will honour that in you and be able to offer value back to you.
The best relationship is one where the whole equals more than the sum of the parts. Where you are able to be your true self, where you are loved and supported through the tough times, encouraged to grow and blossom to be your best self at all times, and you are giving all that back to your partner also.
Often this work is hard to do alone. Please reach out to me, I am here to help. I invite you to come and hear me speak at my free event on 6th April at Canada Bay Club from 12.45pm: