Before you say “I do”, be sure you say “We did”

“Why isn’t this stuff taught to us at school?” said loads of my ‘Dating Deliberately’ and ‘Pre-Commitment’ coaching clients. (I have officially lost count now). “Why don’t we spend more time understanding the difference between insects and arachnids?” said no one ever.

And yet, understanding insects and arachnids are right up there in the school curriculum. I get the relevance of reading and arithmetic but seriously, most people I speak to (that have graduated from school) have reflected that much of mainstream education is a waste of time. When we have access to information in less than a few seconds is there any point in needing to remember lists of facts verbatim these days? I understand the intention of using information to help kids think critically for themselves and to get a sense of the world around them, but why there isn’t more useful information that adults actually need in their curriculum is beyond me.

I am not the only person questioning the school curriculum. One of the smartest men on the planet Elon Musk, the founder, CEO and CTO of SpaceX, the CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors, chairman of SolarCity, and a co-founder of PayPal has chosen to unschool his children. His private ‘unschool’ school is called Ad Astra -which means “To the stars” -and is small and relatively secretive.

From what I can understand, unschooling is very similar to home schooling in that it breaks the traditional, mainstream model for education and bases its curriculum on the natural interests of the child which is supposed to stimulate their true love of learning.

“Some people love English or languages. Some people love math. Some people love music. Different abilities, different times,” he says. “It makes more sense to cater the education to match their aptitudes and abilities.”

A great example of content not taught in schools which is a vital part of being a functional adult is problem solving and decision making. Musk echoes this in his interview on Beijing TV:

“It’s important to teach problem solving, or teach to the problem and not the tools,” Musk says. “Let’s say you’re trying to teach people about how engines work. A more traditional approach would be saying, ‘we’re going to teach all about screwdrivers and wrenches.’ This is a very difficult way to do it.” Instead, Musk says it makes more sense to give students an engine and then work to disassemble it. 

“How are we going to take it apart? You need a screwdriver. That’s what the screwdriver is for,” Musk explains. “And then a very important thing happens: The relevance of the tools becomes apparent.” “So far, Ad Astra seems to be going pretty well” according to Musk. “The kids really love going to school.” *

So, Why am I sharing this information with you? This is not an anti-school campaign. I am making the point that we are not taught a lot of things in school that we should. Especially when it comes to subjects like love, relationships and connection. There is no formal education for how to have and be in a healthy relationship. It’s not taught in schools, college or universities. If you are lucky enough to attend a seminar or course it would probably be theoretical, not applied.

Most adults I know wouldn’t recognize a healthy relationship if it punched them on the nose; that is why I had to write a blog explaining that Real Love Does Not Hurt. ‘Love will conquer all’ is another fantasy fed to us from media and movies which leads to a lot of trouble because love is not enough actually. (I should know, I witness many couples that ‘love’ each other very much while they attempt to destroy one another for the sake of power and control.)

There is an assumption we will learn about relationshipping from our parents. Unfortunately many parents are not great role models on what respectful, positive and effective communication looks like. They are not the exemplary mentors that children need – providing guidance and emotional support -in order to grow up into independent, optimal functioning adults and contributing members of society that are capable of healthy and meaningful connections. Let’s face it, not many parents are the ideal go-to-experts on successful marriages otherwise the divorce stats would not be as high as they are:

Official Global Divorce Stats
Official Global Divorce Stats

It’s not looking promising. In fact, the agenda of my Dating Deliberately process which is to become ‘relationship ready’ and to get clarity on how to become someone for whom a healthy relationship is possible, would not exist if our parents and formal education taught us those skills in the first place. Indeed. But they did not, so what now?

Where can committed couples go to learn about the things that make a successful relationship and marriage?

Who teaches the science of connection and intimacy?

Where can new couples receive mentorship from experienced, happily married couples that know what it takes to continue keeping the spark alive decade after decade?

Who is taking seriously the quality of future partnerships and marriages to ensure children grow up in emotionally healthy homes and contribute toward a thriving society?

Where does one learn about how to become a whole, emotionally functional and independent individual who can merge with another whole person in order to create a stable inter-dependent  partnership?  

The short answer:  There are individuals around the world who have a passion for building healthy and meaningful relationships, whose life’s work is dedicated to understanding interpersonal connection and then sharing that with others. It boils down to this: It is the responsibility of the individual and couple to become educated and to find these passionate educators/ mentors who have learned it, lived it and in a position to give it.

It wouldn’t cross your mind to embark on a journey to the top of a tall mountain without preparation. Learning and gleaning as much experience from those who have done it before you is par for the course if you intend to make it to the top successfully.  The same is true for those about to embark on the journey of marriage. Get prepared otherwise you are more than likely going to become a contributor toward the divorce stats.

I read recently in Tim Urbans blog (How to pick your life partner) that ‘when you choose a life partner, you choosing a lot of things, including your parenting partner and someone who will deeply influence your children, your eating companion for about 20,000 meals, your travel partner for about 100 vacations, your primary leisure time and retirement friend, your career therapist, and someone whose day you’ll hear about 18,000 times. Intense shit’.

Tim explains, when it comes to dating choices and partner selection, between preference and current opportunities, opportunities win hands down. In other words, what’s on offer that night governs nine-tenths of our dating choices. People pick partners from the pool of options they have available to them regardless of whether they are well matched or not.**

The truth is society rushes us into ‘making it official’ and before you know it, weddings are being planned for (but marriages are not).

No one thinks when they are walking down the aisle that they will be getting divorced one day. Unfortunately it is highly probable. For the sake of your own happiness, peace of mind, satisfaction and wellbeing- get some support.

Marriage preparation. Pre-marital counselling. Marriage courses or classes. Pre-commitment coaching. Whatever name it goes by, it is worth the time and effort.

One in four couples remain married, how will you ensure success?

Is 15 hours of your time worth a lifetime of deep connection?

Your wedding is one day, your marriage is a lifetime. Prepare for that. Marriage is an adventure, you need a guide!

I am so passionate about this I am embarking on a project for my pre-marital clients which will have me reaching out to loads of couples who have been married for no less than a decade, to obtain their wisdom/guidance/advice for couples at the beginning of their marital journey.

These will be couples who have been nominated by others as ‘solid and strong marriages’ and whose relationships are a shining inspiration for what ‘happily together forever’ looks like. I have been married for 11 years and together with my partner for 14 and we are blessed to be surrounded by many inspiring couples so this is where I will begin.

My intention is to create an online, non denominational, pre-marital curriculum that couples can complete together in their own time in the comfort of their own homes and with access to a variety of resources that they can refer to in times of trouble.

I hope to provide a service to those that are serious about using their marriage as the vehicle through which they challenge, inspire and encourage each other into becoming the –best-version-of-themselves which is after all, the whole purpose of sharing a lifetime together.

If you know a couple who you respect and admire that might be interested in being interviewed, please forward me their contact details.

If you are a couple that would like to receive some marriage prep from me in my capacity as relationship coach and ‘happily together forever’ representative, please email me.

If you know a couple who would benefit from marriage prep, please forward my information to them, better yet, gift them with a wedding present that will last a life time.

Looking forward to hearing from you



*Excerpt from Business Insider

** Excerpt from Tim Urban blog (facts from “Can Anyone be the One? Evidence on mate selection from speed dating” from IZA Discussion papers, number 2377