Preventing Divorce: Top 3 Life Hacks For Singles | George Blair-West | Tedxbrisbane

Preventing Divorce: Top 3 Life Hacks For Singles | George Blair-West | Tedxbrisbane

Psychiatrist Dr George Blair-West has a bold and empowering message about choosing a life partner and avoiding divorce: it can be hacked. Forget romantic destiny. When it comes to the all-important decision of selecting someone to share your life with and the lives of your potential children a romantic, loving heart must be met with an informed and thoughtful mind. Dr George Blair-West is an author, researcher and psychiatrist. He sub-specialises in trauma and relationship/sex therapy.

In the 1990s, his peer-reviewed research papers literally rewrote the textbooks on suicide and depression. He then turned his focus to the overlooked research into the psychological forces that prevent weight loss. The bestselling Weight Loss for Food Lovers: Understanding our minds and why we sabotage our weight loss and related research papers led to media & speaking appearances around the world. In 2010 he was named one of the top 20 most influential obesity experts in the world.

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almost 50 years ago psychiatrist Richard Ray and Thomas Holmes developed an inventory of the most distressing human experiences that we could have the reason why that inventory is still with us today is because of the unique way in which they ranked those items you see they ranked them on how much physical illness they would cause over the next six months number one on the list death of a spouse the two divorced three mental separation now generally but not always for those three to occur we need what comes in number seven at the list which is marriage fourth on the list is imprisonment in an institution now some say number seven has been counted twice I don’t believe that when the live stress inventory was built back then a long term relationship pretty much equated to a marriage not so now so for the purposes of this talk I’m going to be including two facto relationships common law marriages and same sex marriages or same sex relationships soon hopefully to become marriages and I can say for my work with same sex couples the principles principles I’m about to talk about and no different they they’re the same across all relationships so in a modern society we know that prevention is better than cure we vaccinate against polio diphtheria tetanus whooping cough measles we have awareness campaigns for melanoma stroke diabetes all important campaigns but none of those conditions come close to affecting forty five percent of us 45% that’s our current divorce rate and we’re talking about 45% of people experiencing the pain of divorce those other experiences said that the there and their children of course that sit at the very top of the live stress inventory why no prevention campaign for divorce well I think it’s because our policymakers don’t believe that things like attraction and the way relationships are built is changeable or educable why well our policy makers currently are Generation X during their 30s to 50s and when I’m talking to these guys about these issues I see their eyes glaze over and I can see them thinking doesn’t this crazy psychiatrist get it you can’t control the way in which people attract other people and build relationships why I know I said a bit like a four year old why well it’s because there’s a thing that sits behind this which I call romantic destiny romantic destiny is the idea that for all of us out there is of the one and destiny will take us along the path we will meet the one and live happily ever after now romantic destiny is fine and dandy while divorce was rare but the rarity of divorce was not because people were finding the one magically and living happily ever after divorce was rare because it wasn’t socially acceptable there’s another reason which actually came up in my relationships therapy group yesterday morning one of the female members said yeah that’s hard work dating I’d much rather leave it to romantic destiny and that way I wouldn’t have to kiss as many frogs and what she’s arguing is this idea that yes letting go of that responsibility appears to have its advantages but this whole idea of the love marriage and the romantic destiny that sits behind it has only been around for a couple of hundred years as late as the 18th century the French philosopher Montesquieu said quote any man who loves his woman is probably too dull to be attractive to another woman only the French but it was until the 19th century with the Industrial Revolution the rise of a middle class that men could afford to get married without the support or approval of their parents now fast forward to 1967 Ronald Reagan then Governor of California signs into law the first no fault divorce bill this is the beginning of divorce being available to the masses in 1950 in the 50s 11% of children experienced divorce by the 1970s 45% of the children born to those marriages were going to go on to experience the pain and turmoil of divorce that was Generation X the first generation to experience large scale divorce so it’s understandable they’re a little bit reluctant to give up the romantic destiny idea not so our dear Millennials this is the most information connected analytical and skeptical generation making the most informed decisions of any generation before them and when I talk to Millennials I get a very different reaction they actually want to hear about this they want to know about how do we have relationships that last so for those of you who want to embrace the post romantic destiny era with me let me talk about my three life hacks for preventing divorce now we can inter intervene to prevent divorce at two points later once the cracks begin to appear in an established relationship or earlier before we commit before we have children and that’s where I’m going to take us now so my first life hack Millennials spend seven plus hours on their devices our day its American data and some say probably not unreasonably this is probably affected their face to face relationships indeed and add to that the hook up culture there we go apps like tinder and it’s no great surprise that the 20 somethings that I work with will often talk to me about how it is often easier for them to have sex with somebody that they’ve met and have a meaningful conversation now some say this is a bad thing I say this is a really good thing it’s a particularly good thing to be having sex outside of the institution of marriage now before you go and get all moral on me remember that Generation X and the American public report they found that 91 percent of women had had premarital sex by the age of 30 91 percent but it’s a particularly good thing that these relationships are happening later see boomers in the 60s they were getting married that’s an average age for women of 20 and 23 for men 2015 in Australia that is now 30 for women and 32 for men that’s a good thing because the older you are when you get married the lower your divorce phone and it’s dramatically long as you can see here it is spectacularly dangerous to get married at the age of 22 and a half the sweet spot is 32 and a half which they’re now doing why why is it helpful to get married later three reasons firstly getting married later allows the other to preventers of divorce to come into play they are tertiary education and a higher income which tends to go with tourists for education so these three factors all kind of get mixed up together number two neuroplasticity research tells us that the human brain is still growing until at least the age of 25 so that means how you’re thinking and what you’re thinking is still changing up until 25 and thirdly and most importantly to my mind is personality your personality age of 20 does not correlate with your personality at the age of 50 but your person at the age of 30 does correlate with your personality at the age of 50 so when I ask somebody who got married young why they broke up and they say we grew apart they’re being surprisingly accurate because the 20s is a decade of rapid change and maturation so the first thing you want to get before you get married is older number two John Gottman psychologist and relationship researcher can tell us many factors that could correlate with a happy successful marriage but the one that I want to talk about is a big one eighty one percent of marriages implode self destruct if this problem is present and the second reason I want to talk about it here is because it’s something you can evaluate while you’re dating Gottman found that the relationships to a most stable and happy over the longer term were relationships in which the couple shared a power they were influenceable big decisions by buying a house overseas overseas trip buying a car having children but when Gottman drilled down on this data what he found was that women were generally pretty influenceable guess where the problem lie yeahthere’s having two options here isn’t it yeah we men were to blame the other thing that got man found is that men who are influenceable also tended to be quote outstanding fathers unquote so met so women how influenceable is your man men you’re with that becomes your respecter make sure that respect plays out in the decision making process number three that’s right I’m often intrigued by why couples come into seeming after they’ve been married for 30 or 40 years this is a time when they’re approaching the infirmities and illness of old age at the time when they’re particularly focused on caring for each other don’t forgive things that have bugged them for years they’ll forgive old betrayals even infidelities because they’re focused on caring for it so what brings what pulls them apart the best word I have for this is reliability or the lack thereof does your partner have your back it takes two forms firstly can you rely on your partner to do what they say they’re going to do do they follow through secondly if for example you’re out you’re being verbally attacked by somebody or you’re suffering from a really disabling illness does your partner’s step up and do what needs to be done to leave you feeling cared for and protected and here’s the rub if you’re facing old age and your partner isn’t doing that for you in fact you’re having to do that to them then in an already fragile relationship it can look a bit like you might be better off out of it rather than in it so is your partner there for you when it really matters not all the time 80% of the time but particularly if it’s important to you on your side think carefully before you commit to do something for your partner it is much better to commit to as much as you can follow through than to commit to more sound good in the moment and then let them down and if it’s really important to your partner and you commit to it make sure you move hell and high water to follow through now these are things that I’m saying you can look for don’t worry these are also things that can be built in existing relationships I believe that the most important decision that you can make is who you choose as a life partner who you choose as the other parent of your children and of course romance has to be there romances a grand and beautiful and quirky thing but we need to add to a romantic loving heart an informed thoughtful mind as we make the most important decision of our lives thank you you..

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Comment (6)

  1. Fantastic video and information. The divorce rate would be very low if men and women married the right partners. That can only happen through self awareness. Most people don’t actually know what brings them happiness. They are expecting others to make them happy.

  2. The entire talk is an argument for a lifestyle choice. There are benefits to marrying young and having children young too. It’s just a statistic. People should make their lifestyle choices based on what they want at that moment in their life.

  3. Totally agree about the second point. I’ve always had the feeling that it is very hard to maintain a healthy relationship with a man that you can’t convince about anything.


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