TEDx, ‘Romantic Destiny’ and an ounce of prevention …

Looking forward to TEDx Southbank today where I’m giving one of their ‘micro’ pitches of an idea worth spreading. A few of you have asked me to share it so here is the guts of it:

As we now know Benjamin Franklin got it so right when he opined that, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”

But there’s a condition that will affect almost half of you and as many children. It will cause you as much emotional pain as the most distressing problems that humans can experience, yet currently, there are no meaningful or widespread prevention strategies in place.

That condition is divorce – or the loss of a loving relationship in whatever form.

In my work as a psychiatrist and relationship therapist, I see so much pain and heartache, especially in children, that could have been prevented.

The impact of divorce is far-reaching. Population study findings from a large sample in the USA, tell us that around 80% of people who get divorced, 5 years later, are still as unhappy as they were before they got divorced! In part, it’s because divorce brings its own set of ongoing problems, particularly when children are involved.

So what form might that prevention take? I would suggest we need to go right back, before we need counselling, even before pre-marital counselling (who actually does that?). We need to help people to choose a better partner – someone who brings out the best in you.

Scott Peck, in the iconic The Road Less Travelled introduced the idea that “love is a thoughtful, committed decision.” Too often it is seen as some form of ‘romantic destiny’ that we have no control over – but, strangely enough, Peck was right, we do.

The research and clinical experience gives us some surprisingly simple strategies to help everyone choose a healthier partner and we need to make them common knowledge. So, watch this space …

2 thoughts on “TEDx, ‘Romantic Destiny’ and an ounce of prevention …

  1. Stephanie Loughnan

    I have told my children that their choice of a life partner is the most important decision they will make. That choice is the difference in their long term happiness or unhappiness. So far they have chosen well.

  2. December M

    We did pre-marital counselling. Yes, the two hour session was pretty much a waste of time but we wanted to make sure we had found the right person. We lived together for four years before getting married, and our vows were all about helping each other be the best version of ourselves. 12 years on and we have changed and grown – both together and separately. I think you find the right person for the now – or perhaps for a generation- but rarely for a lifetime. I think of those in the 1800s, who lived until they were 40. A lifetime with one partner was no problem. But we now live to 100 and beyond. Who we are in our 20s is very different from who we are in our 40s. I think we need to start restructuring the way that we look at life, and the way that we look at relationships. Maybe we’ve been wrong all along. Maybe relationships are supposed to only be for a ‘time’ and not for ‘ever’.

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