I’ve always been interested in family relationships. What makes them good? What causes them to fall apart? So, after Grading the Teacher was first published in 1996, I decided my next book would be about family.
When friends, relatives, acquaintances, and even strangers I met in the supermarket, learned my intention, they eagerly shared their family insights and experiences. People wrote letters, emails, phoned – and stopped me whenever I went out. I took so many notes, there came a point where I had so much material, I realized the stories I’d collected would add up to more than 1,000 pages. Facing the daunting prospect of collating, sorting, organizing and editing the voluminous material, I was completely overwhelmed.
Paul said, “Forget writing the book. Design a great cover. Add blank pages. Sell it. Let people record their own stories.” I abandoned that project, and went on to write Magical MousePainting and Making Opportunity Knock.
However, my interest in family never waned.
This past week, I read disturbing Facebook posts written by young mothers whose partners were deceitful and abusive. I thought about my wise friend Merle’s belief that couples abide by their unwritten contracts. Interesting concept. What is your contract? I reached out to my long married friends/followers who could offer advice about signs of successful marriages. Ruth Asher, a social worker married over two decades, sent this link to a video entitled “6 Things We can Learn from Happy Couples”: http://bit.ly/2hRTtsX
Here’s the beginning of a checklist contributed by some who have been in long marriages/partnerships. This list could be referred “Grading the Relationship.” Feel free to add to it.
___ Trusts the Significant Other completely
___ Openly discusses mutual and personal issues
___ Truly listens and addresses the concerns of the Other
___ Values Other’s opinion and reasoning
___ Shows appreciation for all that the Other does
___ Focuses on giving emotionally, rather than taking and having certain expectations
___ Offers consideration, mutual respect for the Other’s needs and wants – and appreciation for same
___ Shares common interests
___ Accepts Other’s right to have the opportunity to follow personal interests, friends and activities
____Communicates issues and opinions well