I am not a math whiz like my handsome hubby, so imagine my surprise when I realized that the secret to lifelong love can be expressed in an algebraic equation!
Choice x Habit = Sustained Results
Our kids tease us sometimes that they have never seen us fight. That is true if they mean a yelling, name-calling, anger-filled session. We don’t do that. We also don’t always agree and sometimes we get angry with each other and the equation I just shared is the reason we don’t go to a destructive place with that anger.
We have formed a much different Habit, based on a Choice we made in the beginning of our relationship.
What is “Choice” in this particular equation? It is the choice to commit and make your relationship with your partner a central priority in your life…or not. We all have a central priority relationship, even if we don’t acknowledge it. If yours is yourself, your career or even your kids, you may be prioritizing the wrong thing if your goal is lifelong love with your partner (Sustained Results!).
If Choice is the relationship…what is “Habit?” It has often been said that we are defined by our habits, and so we need to choose them carefully and delete or change them when they are not beneficial. You have hygiene habits, exercise habits, even diet habits, but did you know you also have relationship habits? Everyone does, but we often forget that we are in control of that reaction to the world as much as we are of every other. Relationship habits are those ways of thinking that we develop about our partner and also how we treat them. Think about the way you react when your partner does something that irritates you. Do you simply react with anger? Habit. Do you file it away as yet another in a pile of grievances? Habit. What if your habit was to give the benefit of the doubt, or to default to honest communication, or to take a moment to assess how important that irritant is in the big picture of your relationship?
Habits can be changed and that is why they are both a variable and a multiplier. If you get nothing more out of this post, please walk away with that truth. They can be changed, and it can happen rather quickly. Some experts say that in four weeks of a consistent behavior, you have changed or formed a habit.
Why is Habit a multiplier? Because anything you do enough to become a habit has tremendous power in your life. Even the little things that are such strong habits that you no longer consciously think about them. Think about your relationship habits and whether you have unthinkingly fallen into a habit of anger or disdain when the small, irritating things your partner does catch your attention. If that has happened, and you would like to change it, change the habit. For the next month, consciously take a breath and run that irritated reaction through the equation. See what it results in as an outcome and make your choice. Do you want to stay where you are, or do you want to change? Communication is always the first step and talking about how you feel with your partner can help you change your relationship habits in a truly constructive way.
How does this equation apply to parenting? Children do learn from observation, but it may be difficult to get more technical expertise through osmosis. This equation is technical expertise that you can share with them in basic explanations while they are small and more abstract and detailed explanations as they form their own priority relationships. Always emphasize that choice comes first in the equation and that anyone who does not respect and treat them well is not a priority relationship choice they want to make, whether it is family, friends, or a partner.
Choice (wants to be best friends with her sister) x Habit (honest communication and expressions of love) = A lifelong best friend who just happens to be related.
Choice (has found the person and commitment she wants in a partner) x Habit (putting the relationship with this person in a central priority position) = Successful Relationship