Once upon a previous time, my dad said something stupid. It sounded so wrong. It was, in fact, the complete opposite of everything I had ever heard.
But, could he have been right?
Driving in our old silver Toyota truck, he turned to me and simply stated, “I think you should give up on the dating thing.”
“Son, I don’t think you need to do that. Not to have a great marriage. You really don’t need to go out and date a bunch of people.”
Now, you must know, my dad is like the relationship guru. Some call him Dr. Love. And here’s the thing. My parents have an awesome marriage. 40 years of being together has not slowed them down one bit. They don’t just love one another, they really like each other. To a level where it’s almost gross.
So when my dad spoke about relationships, I would listen. For his walk backed up his talk.
“Ok,” I tried to reason, “Then how am I supposed to know who I should marry? How do I know what type of person I work best with? And how do I find her? Isn’t that point of dating? To go out with all sorts of people so I can see who I fit best with? And isn’t that experience helpful?
“If I’m not dating, how do I do that?”
* * *
His response changed my life. It was the most helpful piece of knowledge I have ever been given.
“Think about your best friends growing up” he answered. “Cause you’ve had some really good ones. Think about those friends. Your best friends.
“What are their common attributes? What type of personalities do they have? Are they extroverted or introverted? Who are they, and what are they like? What are the activities you found yourself doing together?
“What makes these particular friends special? Why is it that you connect with them, and why have they be so long lasting?
“Look at those characteristics. For those are the exact same attributes you look for in a girl.”
Pausing, he let his words set in. Then he delivered the knockout punch.
“Listen son, a great date does not make a great mate.
“You want a great marriage? You’ve got to have a great friendship. See, you don’t need ‘dating experience.’ What you need is experience building long-term, deep friendships.
“Because that is what a marriage actually is.”
* * *
How are your friendships? Looking back, what patterns do you see?
This is super important.
For the fundamental principles that make friendships work are the same principles used in marriage. It is possible to date extensively and not once practice the skills required to build a life-long relationship.
Yes, you need experience. Just the right kind.
Become great at friendships. And you will be awesome at marriage.
CHECK THIS OUT
Dr. Gottman has studied over 8,000 couples in his 35 years of research. He also has a 94% accuracy rate in determining whether a couple will remain married or get divorced. Yea, he’s good.
After all those years, his final conclusion might surprise you: