For me, Valentines Day is always a great time to reflect on my relationship with Brooke. I think we’d agree that we’re doing better than ever. Marriage and our little family has become the best thing (and sometimes hardest thing) we’ve ever been a part of.
We’ve been married 7 amazing years now (going on 8) and I’ve noticed we’ve started to use this number more, particularly when we want the other person to do something different. “I’ve been asking you XYZ for 7 years and…” or “I’d think after 7 years you’d…” Although we have mostly great times together, there are still many things we do that the other would have us not, and I don’t think this will change any time soon.
I went to a relationship seminar while at BYU about 10 years ago and I still remember something that was shared. The speaker said, “true peace comes only through true conflict.” I really think this is true. Conflict, in this instance, is not anger or contempt, but instead sharing our feelings, needs, and desires despite what we think the reaction will be.
A good example of this was shared with me by a mentor. He said that no team is effective when first created. A member of the team will inevitably step on someones toes, fail at pulling their own weight, or even offend another member. The teams that become effective quickly are those that establish boundaries and respect them. Once everyone has found the boundaries, people can start working together within them.
Hannah Fry recently shared a TED talk (watch below) titled “The Mathmatics of Love,” an entertaining 16 minutes about what math can teach us about relationships. I particularly liked her 3rd example about how to avoid divorce. She shared a formula that was discovered by interviewing couples and recording everything about their conversation, even their heart rate and skin moisture, then tracking how long they stayed married. This formula can predict divorce 90% of the time. It can also predict the outcome of an arms race, which may or may not have similarities to marriage. :)
One of the most powerful variables in the formula is the Negativity Threshold, essentially how annoying one person can be before the other person lets them know it. The seemingly obvious answer is that the longer couples will let a person be annoying, the longer their marriage will last. That is incorrect. In fact, the less annoyance they will take, the longer the relationship lasts. Although it is counter intuitive, the truth is that true peace only comes through true conflict.
Maybe the things my wife and I have been saying “FOR 7 YEARS” are more important than we thought. :)