In 2018, there were 65 divorces for 100 marriages in Luxembourg.
Iâ€™m sure that this number makes many of us wonder. Even if some ex-partners may stay on friendly terms and exercise elegant co-parenting, a separation touches the very foundation, that is the smallest but strongest unit of society. Many must rebuild their life from scratch, both in terms of budget and emotions.
The high divorce rates not only in Luxembourg but in most European countries are often attributed to two primary factors. The first one is a belief that because of a certain standard of living, both members of a couple are likely to be able to afford a new start, financially. The other one is the recent change in moral values and the society becoming more approving of separations.
Asking around and looking for reasons of separations, the answers I mostly get are:
â€žwe grew apartâ€
â€žwe were not compatibleâ€
â€žthere were too many differences in our lifestylesâ€
â€žwe focused on work and kids, there was no couple timeâ€
It seems that more divorces are initiated than some decades ago simply because we are in an easier position to break up. The quality of relationships however might not necessarily correlate negatively or might not correlate at all with the number of divorces. Looking purely at the divorce rates is not informative enough to know whether relationships have improved or deteriorated along the time.
What we do know is that relationships have always been a challenge. Various statistics and publications have sought to evaluate the percentage of couples that are happy together. More often than not, it is estimated at around 15 to 20 per cent. This number, although pretty low, shows that there are partners that can overcome the relationship pitfalls and pursue a happy life together.
The question is what is it that makes the difference?
Are these couples simply lucky, because they are naturally compatible, that is they were meant for each other? Or are they just better prepared and equipped with â€™toolsâ€™ and skills that make their love life work?
Let us first see one of the definitions of compatibility which says that it is a state in which two things are able to exist or occur together WITHOUT
PROBLEMS OR CONFLICT.
Without problems or conflict?
Given the fact that couples are formed of two INDIVIDUALS from different families, education, cultures and in many cases genders, the rational part of my brain must ask the question: Can we realistically expect that two such individuals with totally different backgrounds will naturally be compatible? Some of us do expect that outcome. Otherwise there wouldâ€™t be so many singles in their thirties, forties or fifties still on the search for a good fit. However, this seems an idealistic and - many experts argue - also an outdated approach. It implies predetermination and fosters a passive approach which blocks us from becoming proactive and getting ready to true love and companionship. Instead of holding on to searching compatibility, we have the power to create it for our ourselves and for our couple.
Having said that, letâ€™s take a look at another definition of compatibility.
Compatibility is a capability of existing together in harmony.
I personally like this definition much better because harmony suggests that compatibility can be created, just like harmony in music. Compatibility is not a gift arranged by luck. It is something a couple can make and influence. It is in fact the capacity and willingness of two individuals to create a joyful life together.
Every relationship needs attention and caring.
Making efforts for a relationship however doesnâ€™t mean to keep silent and swallow or compromise attitudes and behaviors that we donâ€™t like. It also doesnâ€™t mean to endlessly scrutinize and correct our partner hoping they will improve.
So what is it that we can do then?
First of all, both partners need to commit to not only the other person but to the relationship itself as well.
This commitment sounds like: â€žI want to make this relationship work because I value you and love you.â€
The next step is then agreeing to regularly noting down what irritates you both and what you perceive as signs of incompatibility in the other. Best is to add also some importance / weights to them to be clear in your head if this is something that only mildly disturbs you or would rather be a reason for split.
The third step is to establish a weekly or monthly routine to review each otherâ€™s points together. The frequency is to be adapted to the maturity and the vulnerability of the relationship. You will basically schedule with your spouse an appointment which is consecrated only to this topic. During these sessions, you are expected to share mutually and openly whatever you both noted on the list. Once presenting your notes to your partner, you must explain why those things annoy you and ask them what they think about it. Let your partner come up with ideas what to do about it.
Such an exercise requires trust in one another. You must assume good faith of your partner, that is they will listen to what you have got to say and be lenient to solve the issues together. Hypocrisy and projections must be avoided. You canâ€™t know the other personâ€™s perspective unless you try to listen without bias. This is not easy. Just like for anything else in life that you want to do very well, you will need dedication and perseverance.
Unless you are a natural in human skills, it is wise not to gamble and see if you will fall into the 20 per cent bucket of happy couple. Establishing a routine early on to align on the differences is a safe approach and is essential to build a long-term relationship that brings you satisfaction. The best is to start around the time when the pink-glasses affect faded and so the first stage of love passed. You will recognize this moment by starting to see and becoming less tolerant to each otherâ€™s differences. This would be an ideal timing to launch your meetings as a preventive measure. It can of course be implemented at any stage of a relationship.
Once it is launched, pay attention to scheduling the appointments separately from other activities of the daily routine. Best is to discuss about your issues only during these sessions. For the rest of the time, try to focus on positive experiences in order to maintain the serenity of the relationship. If some fights are unavoidable, keep them as short as possible and agree to putting them aside for a while as you will have the opportunity to bring it up on the given date anyway.
Depending on the complexity of the situation, you can always ask external follow-up from an advisor to make sure you both are on the right track and on the same track !
I hope that many of you will give this method a try!
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