According to the Office for National Statistics in England, patterns in British marriages over recent years suggest that a couple getting married today has a 20 percent risk of divorce within the first 10 years of marriage. However, if they made it to their 10 year anniversary, the risk falls dramatically, to just 13 percent in the next ten years. It then drops off to nearly no risk after that. The conclusion is that the first 10 years are the most unstable, and when couples are most vulnerable to conflict.
How to Make it to “Happily Ever After”
So how do you make it to that 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 year marks and eventually happily ever after? In over 40 years as a psychiatrist, I’ve created my own system to help couples stay together by understanding their core, often subconscious, motivations. I call this system The Four Drivers.
- The Gregarious
- The Unique
- The Diversifier
- The Cautious
The Drivers come out of Human Needs Psychology, a branch of psychology that examines the root causes of our actions. We all have needs, wants, and tendencies – some of which we are aware of, and others that we are not. The ones that we are not aware of are often the most powerful in controlling our behavior and if couples make it to “Happily Ever After”.
First, you need to understand which drivers are controlling your needs, and then learn which are controlling your spouse’s needs. Marriage counseling often misses this key ingredient, dealing instead with superficial issues rather than addressing the roots of the conflict. Here is an example of what can happen when a couple learns to understand their Drivers:
True story on “Happily Ever After”!
Ten years ago, one wife came into my office and asked for help. She and her husband were on the verge of divorce after seven years of marriage. Through our conversation, I observed that the husband was a Unique, and the wife was a Gregarious. He needed to feel recognized and important, which he felt only at work and not at home. She needed to feel bonded and connected to her husband, which she couldn’t because he was always at work. It was a bad combination, leading them to decide on divorce. But, within a few months of following my advice, they began to notice positive changes in their marriage. Now, ten years later, they’re still happily married with two children. How did they do it? She realized that he needed to feel as appreciated and important at home as he did at work; and he knows that his wife needs to feel that they are bonded and connected. They have learned to support each others’ needs, and now they enjoy their marriage and working towards that coveted “Happily Ever After”.
Once you understand the drivers that are guiding your relationship, you have the key to a good, meaningful marriage that will lead to “Happily Ever After”! If you want to learn more about the four drivers, take the Drivers Test with your partner today.