Stephen van Basten – The Marriage Expert

When you have a good long look at life, you eventually see that it’s all about relationships. We have a plethora of relationships raging around us all the time. We have a relationship (good, bad or indifferent) with our maker, our parents, our siblings, our children, our friends, our bosses, our sub-ordinates, our colleagues, our government, other drivers on the roads, waitrons, tellers, suppliers, clients, customers and the annoying taxi driver in the yellow line during peak hour traffic.

So how do you think you are performing in all of those areas?

I believe we have all heard the saying that 50% of marriages fail (don’t shoot the messenger hey!!)? That would mean that we fail at about 95% of relationships! Remember, we do not marry everyone we date. Personally I believe this is why 80% of new businesses fail too.

Interestingly enough, when my wife Jacqui and I visited India, we were surprised to find that Indian arranged marriages beat the divorce statistics. Indian parents use astrology to pick partners for their children and it seems to work better than our chemical reaction (read lust) method here in the West. And here is a nice little challenge to all of you; someone once asserted that an enlightened being could be married off to anyone on earth and make the relationship work!

Then of course we get the common malady of searching for one’s soul-mate. I believe we do this out of pure laziness! We think we want to find someone that is so perfect that we think the same, react the same, want the same, vote the same, say the right things, do the right things and fulfil every single need we have. Indeed you don’t even need to talk because you are automatically tuned into each other almost telepathically. What rubbish. In my opinion, your soul mate would be someone who is the exact opposite and COMPLETES you. They would challenge you to grow, call you on your shit, tell you when you are being stupid and force you to grow (and probably grow up too!).

That is why my favourite relationship symbol is the yin-yang symbol. Not for religious or spiritual reasons but because we are opposites that complete each other. The little “dots” are where we are the same and they anchor us. The black and white are how different we are. The beauty is that we COMPLETE each other! Whenever I work with a couple who are struggling, it’s usually because one partner wants the other partner to be more like them. Imagine the entire seven billion people on earth were exactly like you. The world would be a mess. My advice is to love yourself for who you are, then love your spouse for who they are and then don’t try to change each other!

This is an excerpt from the book, “So you’re married, now what?

Written by the marriage expert, Stephen van Basten