All the life skills I've identified so far might qualify for your list. You can review the ones we've discussed in previous blog entries. This one is no less important than any of those, and probably no more important than skills we'll identify in future entries.
Obviously, a person's emotional instability may very well contribute to his or her work and financial problems. But we could ask, "Which one is the 'cause' and which one is the result? Anybody can get upset when a job situation is failing. So, that's really a good question to ask. Until potential partners get to know each others un-edited emotional dynamics really well, the nature of their romantic relationship will generally dictate how they interpret each others behavior.
Romance predicts that we'll give the object of our affection the benefit of any doubt--so we're inclined to blame our partner's job-related problems and/or financial instabilities on an unfair life situation or circumstances. These things can appear to be outside his or her control. Certainly, it can be true that circumstances are to blame. But many relationships don't really get a definitive answer to that question until long AFTER a couple has chosen to "tie the marital know."
So, how is a couple going to find out the answer to this question? How can you tease out what is the real "cause" and what is the effect? Here's a simple two-step answer, and like so many other things in life, it's a lot more easily said than done. But remember, there is a lot at stake here.
- Don't be in a hurry to get married. It's a fact that many problems could have been solved (before they became issues for a relationship) if the partners hadn't rushed to "tie the knot." You're going to need some time to assure yourselves that you really do have the definitive answer to this question before you make your final commitment-decision to the relationship.
- Intentionally identify, plan, and then do activities together. The activities you choose should require your shared and active investment of time and energy. You want to get a good sense of how well you work together, respectively take responsibility, and demonstrate your ability to be accountable to each other for the outcome. For example, plan, purchase the ingredients, and cook a meal together for another couple that you would like to spend some time with. Plan a weekend retreat--maybe a camping trip for several other friends or couples--where you two are the PRIMARY planners/leaders who make the event happen "without a hitch." [see a list of activities in the back of the book, Smarter Romance.]
Remember, satisfying and durable relationships don't just happen. They're planned for, made, and shared cooperatively!
More next time