Before you read any further, open another browsing window and Google “relationship advice”. Notice how most of the relationship advice is “dating-related” and geared toward finding and getting a partner. But what about the “happily ever after” part? Doesn’t anyone need advice for that? It seems like there is a lot of focus on recruiting and not enough on retention.
While companies strive for continuous improvement, even if they are doing well, in fact, especially when they are doing well; marriages tend to go the other way. When a marriage is well established and running smoothly, most people tend to get complacent, subconsciously. While businesses are always on the lookout for the next product that’s “faster, better, saves more time, or effort”, we forget to use “Kaizen” for our relationships. “Kaizen” is Japanese for improvement or change for the better; and is used widely in manufacturing, engineering, healthcare, government, banking and other industries, even life-coaching. Kaizen analyzes processes and thereby allows building on your successes and anticipating failures before they occur. A “continuous improvement” mindset allows you to actively analyze what is going well in your life/relationship and find the reasons for the successful areas of your relationship so you can continue to do those things.
We hear about “early detection” and how it is key to conquering medical problems/fatal diseases. It is too bad we don’t have a diagnostic test or a toolkit for early detection of “relationship problems.” In all other important aspects of life, such as “health” or “business” we focus or at least taught to focus heavily on preventive measures. Unfortunately, by the time a couple picks up a relationship book or enters counseling, they are already halfway to separation.
I recently read an article that made an interesting comparison between how social media has changed the landscape for both finding a job and finding a partner; and how retention rates have dropped in both areas. Corporate loyalty is certainly a thing of the past and it is now the norm to change your job every 5-7 or at least 10 years. Some people not only change jobs but also change careers over that time. In fact, there is even a perception that if you are in the same job for years, maybe it is because you couldn’t find anything else. Could the increase in divorce rates imply that our relationship graph is going to follow our career graph?
Although in spite of this trend, even in this day and age I know plenty of people who have spent decades in the same job. Rather they changed jobs but within the same company, changed profiles and roles and scope of work but with the same employer, reinvented themselves and grew with their organizations. Obviously their corporations met their changing expectations and continued to give the satisfaction that they yearned from their careers. Perhaps, there lies the key to longevity. If you can grow together, change roles together successfully (such as, from spouse to parent), adapt to changing expectations and continue to reinvent yourself and your relationship together, you just might find a way to spend a lifetime with the same person happily.