By Armen Hareyan
Covey and Stephan M. Mardyks offer crucial advice to help you safeguard your relationship and find some much-needed common ground.
By David M.R. Covey and Stephan M. Mardyks, the authors of Trap Tales: Outsmarting the 7 Hidden Obstacles to Success.
You may be married on paper, but are you and your spouse really married in spirit? Sure, you live under the same roof, you may share a last name, your finances are intertwined, and you're (presumably) faithful to one another. Yet if you're like many "happily" married couples, you haven't really integrated your lives. Instead, you're operating as "married singles"—and according to David M.R. Covey (the son of famed author Stephen R. Covey) and Stephan M. Mardyks, it's because you believe your own upbringing is superior to that of your partner.
It sounds harsh, but hear them out.
"People usually bring two different value systems into their marriage," says Mardyks, coauthor along with David M.R. Covey of Trap Tales: Outsmarting the 7 Hidden Obstacles to Success (Wiley, May 2017, ISBN: 978-1-1193658-9-1, $25.00). "Where do they get those values? From their upbringing, naturally. And human nature being what it is, we tend to believe that what we are taught as children is the 'right' way to operate."
If you're not proactive in bridging the schism, the problems that arise from your conflicting viewpoints can kill your marriage (or any other kind of intimate relationship yours might be).
"When you disagree on the small things—how to squeeze the toothpaste or arrange the furniture—it's not that big a deal," says Covey. "But when it comes to more substantial issues, being out of sync can lead to fighting, simmering resentment, and, ultimately, divorce."
Mardyks and Covey call this destructive pattern the "Relationship Trap." It's actually one of seven traps covered in the book. The authors provide new insights to help you escape the seductive modern-age traps that keep you from reaching your optimal performance and happiness—and their solutions often cut against the cultural grain.
Trap Tales teaches readers the art of Trapology, as described through the tale of Alex, a husband and father who has unwittingly fallen into the traps that so many people struggle with. Alex fell into the Relationship Trap because he and his wife failed to discuss their differing values systems. Over the years, Alex left the brunt of the household duties to his wife and spent money on things he wanted while she worried over their increasing debt. Their story no doubt rings true for many couples facing similar problems.
The Relationship Trap is pervasive today for various reasons. First, women can and do work and no longer have to rely on their husbands for survival. Separation and divorce today are highly common. Plus, it's easier than ever to meet new people online, so people tend not to feel "stuck" with their current partner when things get tough.
The bottom line? Couples need to negotiate their different roles to find harmony in the modern age. This begins with understanding the reasons why we fall into the Relationship Trap:
1. As mentioned earlier, we believe our upbringing is superior to that of our partner's. "It's very common for each spouse to think the way things were done in their childhood is the right way to operate," says Mardyks. "Anything that runs counter to their experience is seen as different, weird, or just plain wrong. This applies to both the big things, like how they raise their kids or manage their money, and small things, like how they organize the kitchen. We make these judgments unconsciously and become annoyed at the differences in our spouse or partner."