When it comes to how happy you are, most of it you cannot control: 70% is what you’re born with. It’s a setpoint, sort of like your weight. You can diet, but you tend to go back to your usual weight sooner or later. It’s the same outcome even with trauma. If you lose an arm, you’ll be sad for a while but you’ll go back to your usual happiness setpoint sooner or later.

How happy you are is also determined by your childhood, which, of course, you do not control. A happy childhood leads to happy thoughts. (Though a happy childhood does not generally changed pre-determined outcomes which are largely nature rather than nurture.)

When it comes to our own happiness, the number-one thing we can control is our relationships. And people who are married are happier. This does not mean that people with kids are happier. They aren’t. But people who keep a marriage together are happier. And for sure, their kids are happier.

1. Teach kids that fending for yourself is unnecessary.
It’s so against the grain to raise kids with a goal of getting married. It’s way cooler to be like a traditional Baby Boomer and tell children they need to be able to fend for themselves.

The first problem with this logic is that the biggest career decision you make is who you marry. So all the preparation for a career can be undermined in that one moment when you fall in love. If you marry someone who doesn’t make any money, then all those jobs you might want that don’t pay well are off limits to you.

The other problem with telling people to learn to fend for themselves is that if you have children to support, fending for yourself is the number-one risk factor for poverty. So instead of telling kids they have to learn skills in case their marriage ends, teach kids they have to learn skills to keep their marriage together. You have to work hard at whatever you want to be good at.

Divorce is terrible for kids, and financially ruinous for the parents, so why do we talk about a math crisis but not a relationship skills crisis? In fact, improving relationship skills would probably do a lot more for this country than improving math scores. 

2. Teach kids how to fight.
Psychologist John Gottman discovered a reliable predictor of whether or not couples will stay together: watching them fight. Couples who fight dirty don’t last. If you teach your child how to deal with conflict in a productive, healthy way, then your child will be able to fight fair in marriage, and the marriage will last.

Passive-aggressive behavior is the road to hell. Name-calling should be out of bounds for people who care about each other. But storming out of the room, saying you hate what the other person is doing, complaining that you are not getting your needs met—these things are all fair game, and actually essential to healthy relationships.

(Everyone should buy Gottman’s book. It helps adults and it helps adults to help kids. And when I look at this picture, me and my husband and my son, I think of all the work I’ve done to learn how to fight so I can keep a marriage together for my kids.)

3. Teach kids how to use Myers Briggs to find a mate.
It’s so clear to me that understanding personality type gives you the keys to the kingdom for getting along with others. First of all, you’ll be better at picking a mate if you understand your strengths and weaknesses as well as your potential mate’s. And you will understand what you can expect from your mate and what is hard-coded by understanding their core personality. Why don’t we teach this to kids when they are dating? Dating should be practice for picking the personality type that can get you what you want in life.

For example, you can’t have someone who’s both fun and artistic and also driven to earn money. The human brain simply does not work that way. And you can’t have someone who cares about keeping order in the present and planning wildly for the future. Those traits don’t come together either. If you understand that you can make a decision about which you want for your partner, instead of choosing ignorantly and unknowingly, you will naturally choose smarter. (Good starting points on this topic: How to choose a husband, and how to choose a wife.)

Let’s stop pretending that book knowledge and intellectual pursuit is more important than holding a marriage together. Let’s stop pretending that marriage is a roll of the dice. It’s not. It is the result of learning and using skills that take years to master. And childhood is a great time to begin developing those skills.

46 replies
  1. liza bennett
    liza bennett says:

    sorry, while i agree with you that the relationship crisis is as important as the math crisis, Gottman links are a real turnoff for me, since it seems clear that he lies. He cannot predict anything.
    He can use statistics to data mine, or over fit, or whatever you want to call it, but ‘taint science yet (and if he can get every one to believe he can already predict, why should he ever try to actually predict?).
    love and skepticism,
    liza

    • Is Not
      Is Not says:

      Why do educated people use “ain’t” to undercore a point. Why not just say it isn’t f*cking science? Either way, you don’t sound credible.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I think you didn’t read any of the links, right? First of all, he was a full professor of psychology at University of Washington, and you cannot get there without doing science.

      Second, he has used the scientific method, with a control group, to test his predictions.

      But even if you think none of this is science based, the list of rules for fighting is widely used by marriage counselors. And I don’t think you gain much for yourself by deciding that you are not following those rules.

      I mean, seriously? Are you defending passive aggression? Is that the point of your skepticism? I just don’t get it.

      Penelope

  2. Sheela
    Sheela says:

    YES! I think this all the time. When I was part time high school teaching last year, I fantasized about ways to bring in ‘how to choose a mate wisely’ lessons…there was no time for that or anything else useful, of course.

    But think how hard it would be to turn kids (especially girls) from the messed-up messages they are bombarded with in mainstream culture about marriage/ intimate relationships. We just got back from Disney World. Pretty good cross-section of America there; 44 thousand visitors a day. Every single employee addressed my daughters (5 and 6) as ‘Princess’. (Not being Disney aficionados, they just found it annoying.) Of course, the message they hopefully weren’t getting is: wear pretty dresses and spend a long time on your hair, and you’ll get Prince Charming and live happily ever after. You’d think our divorce rate would have helped to dissipate this fantasy, but the princess phenomenon is a recent one.

    I think the 2 reasons I chose my mate wisely (and accepted that I was getting a stable, solid, available father/ provider and not someone who enjoys taking kids to Disney World) are: lots of therapy and luck.

  3. Sarah M
    Sarah M says:

    Relationship skills are taught to every kid at home, whether their parents fight in a healthy manner or not. I think using this kind of research to make a class to help kids in school is a really good idea, a no-brainer. I never had anything remotely close to that in school, and other than pre-marital counseling which I highly recommend (and actually helped me with this very thing), have just had to learn by observing/asking others who have marriages I respect. That, and swallowing my pride and saying sorry has strengthened mine.
    Sarah M

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      So much of keeping a marriage together — or any relationship, actually — is swallowing pride. Swallowing pride is really underrated.

      Penelope

  4. Nonnie
    Nonnie says:

    Yeah, I think math is wonderful and crucial, but relationship skills are definitely more important for our society. Well, I think general interpersonal skills, good character, and kindness and generosity are just as important, but maybe that’s a little over-ambitious.

    Thinking back to my high school relationships, I feel like it’s tough to overestimate what kids don’t know. It’s easy to forgot how totally clueless we were.

  5. Becky Eastham
    Becky Eastham says:

    This was great. I have always looked at life as a strategy game and every decision made is either strategic or a really dumb move. I look back at my life and pat myself on the back for making very good strategic moves. I talk to others and whenever there is a tragic life story, as soon as I ask a few questions, I quickly can see that it is a classic case of poor life game moves.

  6. Jane
    Jane says:

    Really? What about victims of torture? Or war veterans? Are you saying that some are happy and some are sad, depending on how they were born?

    No, in reality, people who have suffered terrible trauma struggle with depression. Take a walk through a VA hospital and you will see how much “nurture” affects modd.

    • Tim
      Tim says:

      If you had actually followed the links you’d understand that the studies she refers to are adoption studies. Even way back when these studies occurred there was a bit of a qualification process to be able to adopt a child (though not what it is now–not even close). Thus an alcoholic single mother was unlikely to qualify.

      No one is disputing that trauma can have a significant negative impact on a person.

      The point of the nature vs. nurture debate, as it exists today in 2013 middle-to-upper class America is how much of a positive effect will all my helicopter parenting have on my child? The answer turns out to be: not much. Your child’s abilities are largely genetic and the best thing you can do is get out of the way and help your child find them and feed them.

    • Tim
      Tim says:

      P.s. it just occurred to me that you are probably referring to the amputee reference.

      The best advice I can give you is to follow the link and read up on the research, especially if it challenges some preconceived ideas you have.

  7. Commenter
    Commenter says:

    This is a good and consistent blog post. All the links even go somewhere that (more or less – the Wikipedia link is kinda lame) supports your argument. I like the way you link to prior blogs, weaving it into an entire corpus of argument.

    The weakness is the usual appeal to MBTI determinism, e.g. : “you can’t have someone who’s both fun and artistic and also driven to earn money.” Yeah, really, you can. That’s my wife. She makes a great living climbing the executive ladder, and on her days off she plays piano, composes, and teaches the kids to sing. She’s like Maria von Trapp in pinstripes.

    In this particular argument, it might be nice to bring it around full circle: not only should the education we are providing our children prepare our children for lifelong loving relationships, but perhaps the best way to do this is to provide them with full-time loving relationships while they are children by homeschooling them.

    Peer-to-peer relationships among young children are neither as durable nor as important as family relationships. School is something that takes children away from their families – which is why it had to be imposed by force of arms.

    Once a family commits to the modern paradigm of schooling, pre-schooling and after-schooling creep in. Families put their toddlers in daycare twelve hours a day, and figure out how to keep their older kids on the same schedule. Otherwise, how could you have two careers?

    Instead of developing close and deep relationships with their parents and siblings, kids go from one temporary, disposable relationship to another. If your primary caregiver or best friend is subject to change at any time as you change daycare centers or your school system reshuffles kids between elementary and middle, how will you understand the type of long-duration relationship that is a marriage?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Newsflash: your wife is not fun. Your wife is driven by ambition. This is why she has a big job while she has kids. And this is why the time she spends with kids is focused on goals and achievement.

      Your wife playing piano is about your wife achieving something. And your wife teaching your kids piano is about your wife helping your kids to do what your wife values.

      It is TOTALLY HILARIOUS to me that you think Myers Briggs is stupid and you give an example that illustrates Myers Briggs so well.

      People who are truly driven by fun (ISTP, for example) would think your wife’s idea of fun is a joke. People who are driven by fun do not care about achievement, they care about fun. Your wife exemplifies this dichotomy perfectly.

      (Also, as a mom who teaches her kids cello, violin and a piano I am blown away that you would use teaching a kid an instrument as an example of fun. It is very difficult to get a kid to practice every day, and even if you can do that, daily practice is largely monotonous for the parent.)

      Penelope

      • Commenter
        Commenter says:

        Missy, you don’t know my wife. It’s pretty cheeky of you to talk about her that way. I don’t insult your family; please don’t insult mine.

        If it’s difficult for you to get your kids to play music every day, maybe they’re not really suited for it, or you’re not suited for it. It sounds to me like they won’t be likely to stick with it past teen years if none of you find it fun.

        We don’t play music with our kids every day because we think they’re prodigies and their glory reflects on us in some way; we’re not trying to compete with the Joneses down the street let alone some imaginary superstars.

        We do it because we are a family of musicians. We do it for fun. My son composes songs for fun; he’s mastering his vibrato for fun. I write lyrics for fun, play violin for fun. My dad fiddles and calls square dances for fun. My wife practices, composes, and performs for fun. My MIL sings with a chorus for fun. And so on, through the FIL whose lovely baritone rings out at party after party, the BIL who’s a bass player in an irrelevant heavy metal band, the uncle who teaches opera, the cousins with a family gospel band. We all do it for fun. My wife is teaching the boy to sing now so he can audition for a musical because we both know how much fun that is.

        Maybe that doesn’t sound like fun to you. We’re not superstars. We’re not famous. We’re not making money off our fun. And I’m sure that makes us uninteresting to some folks whose fun must be found in competition or result in profit, or it doesn’t count. But this is our idea of fun. Laugh at us if you will: ‘someone who really knows how to have fun wouldn’t think that’s fun.’ Really? Well, we’d probably be pretty bored by such a person too.

        I think the saddest thing I find here on your blog is the reduction of human capacity and human spirit I see again and again when you insist people must fit into the procrustean beds of your magical MBTI guide book. It clearly prevents you from understanding other people very well. But maybe that ignorance is what you find fun.

        • Charlene
          Charlene says:

          I don’t think not being classed as ‘fun’ is an insult. Your wife sounds like a very impressive woman, I’m sure it’s not important to her. ‘Mastering his vibrato for fun’ made me chuckle. Just for fun I’d love to know your MBTI

          • Ferragamo
            Ferragamo says:

            HR uses that Brigss Myers stuff for teambuilding and whatever, so I predict a backslash pretty soon of those tests.
            Btw, I love running, and do it for fun. I love working out too; the health club is like an amusement park for me.
            I’d guess that for an ISTP or whatever, my joy is a joke, and is not really fun, and it’s actually boring, because, you know, it’s actually “driven by sucess” because people who work out generally look better than those than don’t.
            I really don’t get that type of thinking.

        • Becky Castle Miller
          Becky Castle Miller says:

          I think the difference is between “having fun” and “being driven by fun.” Your wife is probably an ENTJ. I’m sure she HAS fun, but she’s driven by success and achievement. It’s not an insult, it’s just a difference. Penelope is an ENTJ.

          My husband is an ENTJ, and he is a musician and does it for fun. But he’s primarily driven by success, not fun. Which is why he chooses a busy career as a consultant over being a full-time musician. Music would be more fun, but he wouldn’t get the same success from it.

          • karelys
            karelys says:

            You’re very smart.

            There are a lot of things I like to do and they bring joy to me, they are fun. But doing those things instead of doing certain things that bring more pragmatic results, even if the process is NOT fun, is more rewarding. I am not sure how to express it.

            I like fun but I like more to not be miserable?

            When I don’t do the things I have to do they hang over my head and stress makes me miserable. So not even the fun things are fun. Plus what is fun to me has to have a purpose of producing something good that will eventually add up to change (in our life, community, etc.).

            So as much as like to sew (just as an example), I can’t just dump my time into it. I’d rather go through the grueling process of doing something else not as fun but that will have a result.

            But I am not sure what I am driven by yet. It’s definitely not power and achievement.

          • Penelope Trunk
            Penelope Trunk says:

            You said this really well, Becky. Thanks. You are saying what I mean to say, but without all my snippiness :)

            Penelope

      • Sarah
        Sarah says:

        This puzzles me. Penelope, could you give an example of what you mean by “fun” for someone who you think actually cares primarily about having fun? I don’t get the distinction either.

        • Daniel Baskin
          Daniel Baskin says:

          A formulaic, only-looking-at-surface-behaviors approach to Jungian typology is going to give you a formulaic understanding of typology.

          When people say that ENXPs are really silly and eccentric people, they don’t mean that other types aren’t silly, for instance. “But I’m silly!” says the ESTJ or the INFJ. Yes, everyone has a sense of humor–or in this case, things that they find fun in. But look closer. ENXP’s (and INXP’s to a less extent) have a pure sense of silly. It is unrestricted interestingness for novelty’s sake. Silliness is the means and the end. Any other type, although surface behaviors resulting from other aspects of one’s personality or cultural situation, can behave just as silly at times, but will act with other ends in mind other than pure goofiness.

          Or, an EXTJ (also IXTJ to a less extent) can have tons of fun. They can be very fun-centered. The difference is that fun is not equally the means and the ends for them. For an EXXP, fun is much more both the means and the ends.

          If your idea of fun includes an end goal of accomplishing something other than fun, then fun is not equally and means and an ends. You can still behave like a fun person, but that is not who you are at your core, even if you enjoy fun and can’t live without it.

          If you think fun without an ends other than fun is a waste of time, well, then you have your answer and you’ve truly demonstrated just how narrow your perspective of what it actually feels like to let go in a directionless environment. That’s okay. You’ll accomplish more in life probably. Just don’t get pissy because someone tells you that you aren’t fun because all of your ideas of fun are accomplishment driven.

          • Commenter
            Commenter says:

            I get it now.

            We think we’re having fun, but we’re really not.

            Just like you think you’re making sense, but you’re really not.

            Brilliant demonstration through aporia!

  8. Jana Miller
    Jana Miller says:

    So you are saying strengthen the family and we strengthen the work force and our economy as a whole?

    Brilliant!

    It’s almost become taboo or politically incorrect to even talk about such things!

    We need you in political office!!

    • mh
      mh says:

      “So you are saying strengthen the family and we strengthen the work force and our economy as a whole?

      Brilliant!”

      Yes, but the idea of _government organizations/schools_ trying to “strengthen the family” in order to strengthen the work force and the economy gives me the creeps. It does come down to values — whose values work? Who gets to pick? Is picking values something that government organizations are good at?

  9. Jason Jehosephat
    Jason Jehosephat says:

    People who are able to fend for themselves, financially and emotionally, are the ones who are at leisure to put off getting married until they find the right person. People who can’t run their own lives or who are compulsively averse to being on their own can easily rush off into bad relationships without noticing obvious danger signs.

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      I sort of agree with this but not quite.

      Most people who are able to fend off by themselves didn’t arrive there on their own. You can build more with others than by yourself.

      Many people who are financially independent and very well educated arrived there with help of their parents, mentors, networking, etc. So it’s really not by yourself. And you must be relationship savvy to put up with so many people to get their help and still maintain your individuality, grow, and keep a good relationship.

      A lot of people put off getting married not because they are waiting to find their type but because they don’t even know how to open themselves up. They don’t know how to be in a relationship and then eventually you get scared of marriage (the big commitment). When I had to write essays for school the more I put them off the scarier they got.

      A 15 year old may be more relationship savvy than a 35 year old with a career and financial independence. The thing is, many people get divorced because they don’t know little things like (comment above) swallowing pride is underrated. Then that person gets divorced when things get really tough because they don’t know how to depend on others without losing themselves.

  10. Kirsten
    Kirsten says:

    Are you really advocating that traditional schools teach these things? I’m reading this as another great reason to have your kids at home, where they can develop and hone their “soft skills” for as long as possible — and where parents can slip in suggestions about being thoughtful and careful with relationships of all kinds.

    Also, I’ve never read pre-determinism into any info on MBTI, either on this blog or anywhere else. Data is great, but is needs to be interpreted in real life to be truly useful. My marriage has been served well by my husband’s and my knowing our types and by having a general sense of what drives us. It’s a starting point — you still create your own way together.

    Twenty years ago I would have recoiled at some of what Penelope says here, but now I wish more people were willing to be as honest.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I’m saying that one of the most important things to learn in one’s education is how to have a good marriage. Which begs the question why do kids go to school?

      For me, increasingly, I think school is totally inappropriate for helping children grow. So I keep finding more and more reasons why home is better than school for educating kids.

      Penelope

  11. Joyce
    Joyce says:

    Hi! I like how psychology now can study relationships in greater detail and give more specific lessons. Use “I” rather than “you.” Stick to the issues. Avoid calling names and bringing up past mistakes. Know the signs that someone might be abusive.

    Past wisdom will simply say do unto others as others would do unto you. This is too general for me. What if you are sadistic or masochistic? Children can now learn more about marriage. But given that having sex often starts before getting married, that marriage is often postponed, and that the divorce rate is high, wanting to learn about how to have a good marriage will probably start in one’s twenties.

  12. J.E.
    J.E. says:

    Just some questions for thought: How or would you change your three points in the article to pertain to gay relationships? Also teaching relationship skills in schools, while a good idea, is hard to implement because there will be some parents up in arms saying the schools are encroaching on their parenting and trying to force one particular set of values on their child.

    • Daniel Baskin
      Daniel Baskin says:

      Which brings up a great frustration I face every day as a teacher. Parents want us to only teach their kids certain things, even teach values. Op, but if we teach the wrong values (which, can be difficult to even know what values the parents of our kids want to instill, let alone the fact that parents of kids will all have different values), then we get in trouble–so we tread carefully.

      But if teachers can’t teach their own values, how are kids going to understand why they are expected to behave in certain ways? It’s total shit. If parents are going to outsource values-development to schools, shouldn’t schools get to decide what values they teach?

      • Cindy
        Cindy says:

        I think, Daniel, you’ve pinpointed ONE of the reasons I chose to homeschool. I remember my oldest son going to preschool. We were often late because of my pregnancy and having to wake a sleeping toddler. Before he would enter the main room, he would stand stock still as he waited for his teacher to acknowledge him. As soon as she did, he would smile and enter. I remember thinking in that moment, “Does she know the power she has over him..already? Will she use it wisely. Will she do something without thinking that is hurtful and not mend it?” Teachers go home at night. They endure school years with children they may or may not like. I will be a parent to my child forever. And I adore each one.

        I also remember being in a room with a group of women and the question was asked, “Remember a time when someone impacted your self image.” I was expecting a wide range of answers, positive and negative, but every one of them was from a negative experience with a teacher! Yet another experience I had that helped me make the decision to homeschool.

        I recently wrote a post about how schools promote family separation, the very thing that another poster mentioned is one of the best examples of good, long-term relationships. It’s here: http://applestars.homeschooljournal.net/2013/01/07/our-culture-of-family-separation-and-peer-approval/

  13. Karen
    Karen says:

    I think the idea of promoting marriage is a great, (and one conservatives have been urging for poverty reduction for many years), but one you get out of the middle and upper classes, there are so many other factors at play, I’m not really sure it works. Right now, there are so many disincentives for low-wage women to marry, like declining low-wage/low-education male labor force participation rates and marriage penalties for public transfers like food stamps and Medicaid. I think if you were talking to a low-wage couple, and urged them to get married, the low-wage woman would probably ask what the benefit would be. Someone else to use her limited resources? Or what’s the benefit of marrying someone who makes just enough to make the family worse off by making them ineligible for benefits?

    I still think it makes sense to teach kids about marriage and to model good ones for them. But, it may not change things for those who need it most until we solve our policy problems and figure out what to do about declining labor force participation by men with the least education.

    • Alissa
      Alissa says:

      I disagree. My husband and I are low income, and our marriage did not negatively affect our eligibility receive sufficient aid (food stamps and medical) when it was needed. Being married got us through tough times more than a hand out would have anyway.
      It may make it difficult to abuse welfare by getting married, on the other hand.

  14. Rachal
    Rachal says:

    A agree. Strong relationships lead to strong adults. We have a duty to teach our children what a husband does, and what a wife does. My 15 year old says she wants to gt married and be a stay at home mom. Well that is fine if that’s what she wants, however, SHe first needs to learn to runa home, cook clean, budged, time-management, laundry, vehicle maintenance, dr./health care and the list goes on and all. All talks that must be done. Mnay people outsource these items if they can afford it, or don’t do it and live like slobs, but our children need to be taught to be good husbands and wives. Getting married after all is not bad thing. It means they care for a family and are willing to work for it.

  15. mh
    mh says:

    When I read the title of your post, I thought you were going to write about developing the skills and habits that lead to a happy home life: contentment, orderliness, budgeting, cooking, tidiness, sense of humor.

    I like your section about learning how to fight. One thing homeschoolers get to do a lot of is bicker and tease and laugh it off in an environment where they know they are secure.

  16. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    This is so great. I’ve been reading your blog for years and find your overall message about getting married so refreshing, especially the advice to young women about looking for a mate. I always feel like you know all about the bad advice I got (“You can do anything you want,” “you have plenty of time to get married,”etc.) But here you have crystallized the problem with 1970s feminism: telling young women that they need to learn skills in case their marriage ends. You have put Simone de Beauvoir in her place! Thank you!

    • redrock
      redrock says:

      I am not aware that the tenet of feminism was to have a fall back in case marriage ends. It was to give women equal rights and opportunities. In my family (grandmother, mother generation) the women were smart, independent thinkers, not unhappy in their marriages and with their kids. But all of them yearned for knowledge, education, intellectual discourse, and the chance to have a life which is not defined by marriage and children alone. They wanted to learn but the motivation was not “…in case their marriages fail”. All of them regretted in their old age that they never had an opportunity to develop this side of their lives and abilities. It simply was not part of what society “allowed” them to do, this is what feminism is to me: the freedom of choice, and the opportunity to choose rather than being predetermined to become XXX (insert your choice of path here).

      • Karelys
        Karelys says:

        somewhere I read that monogamy is actually in favor of males. And our culture (and many around the world) is patriarchal. So if feminism hurts the interests of males then of course they are going to bash it.

        In the past women had no choice but to learn to be a good wife/mother because that would be their career. Now we have options but because things have been distorted and the focus lost we are only teaching men and women to prepare for careers and not to raise families when in reality there are lots and lots of people who yearn to build a family.

        Maybe we are judging to harshly and it’s just what happens in history when change occurs. The pendulum swung too hard the other way so it is time that it starts going back until it finds it balance.

        Same thing happened with industrialization and the food movement. We are going back looking for something healthier but I don’t think anyone is giving up air conditioning and refrigerators and that kind of thing anytime soon or ever. Things will find a good balance. At least that’s what I am hoping for.

  17. Crimson Wife
    Crimson Wife says:

    Personality is less important in maintaining a strong marriage than shared values. I’m an INFP while my hubby is an ISTJ. We don’t have that much in common when it comes to personality but we are very like-minded when it comes to values. We are both devout Catholics, politically at the junction of moderate/conservative/libertarian, frugal and anti-materialistic, intellectual and highly valuing of education, and so on. The fact that he tends to miss the forest for the trees (the “S” part), the lack of flexibility/spontaneity (the “J” part), and the “letter of the law over the spirit of the law” (the “T” part) do sometimes cause issues in our marriage but they are minor ones. Nothing major like disagreements over religion or saving vs. spending would cause.

  18. JRW
    JRW says:

    The link for Gottman’s book is broken, could you fix it? Wondering if you’re talking about his children centered book or marriage book?

    Also, I will cry if you ever stop writing about homeschool!

  19. JRW
    JRW says:

    I tried to read the Wikipedia page, but it is SO long and my reading time is SO short. I did read this post from Eric Barker’s blog where he said twin studies showed

    “Perhaps the single most important determinant of SWB is genetics (Lykken & Tellegen, 1996; Tellegen et al., 1988). Simply put, some peo- ple arrive in this world with a predisposition to cheerfulness, optimism, and joy, whereas others are born with a predilection toward fearfulness, pessimism, and depression. Studies of twins separated at birth have yielded heritability estimates for SWB ranging from .40 to .70, with the most common figure around .50.”

    http://www.bakadesuyo.com/2012/01/how-much-of-happiness-is-under-our-control-ho/

    So my question is, were you speaking hyperbolically when you cite 70% of who we are is what we’re born with, or do you disagree with Eric’s conclusions? Why? And, where else should I read if so, I am fascinated by this whole thing, it’s helping me stress less about my kids, and that is helping me yell at them less! :)

  20. Kimberly
    Kimberly says:

    This is such a good article. Had I read this before I got married…to put it lightly, things would have been different.

    I think the reason why this is not taught in schools is because it goes against what school is all about. It’s not really about learning, it’s about results and grades to prove that.

    Competition is acceptable and rewarded in school, it is not in marriage.

    You can not learn to put someone else’s needs above your own, when you are busy making sure you get the best grade in class.

    School is all about fighting dirty. Sometimes you have to lie, cheat, steal and harvest inappropriate relationships with teachers to get the grade but as long as that A is on the paper and the GPA is still high, no one in the school system is complaining.

    Also, it’s the popular people who survive in school (well some overdose). However, if you’re outside of the norm, you are not accepted which gives you the idea that your own self is somehow inferior. This attitude makes a healthy marriage almost impossible. Personal experience on this one.

    In school, all that really matters is grades. Morality is subjective to both teachers and students. Guess what, there are no grades in the real world so there’s no way to cheat it. Homeschooling is about the process not the end result, which is more in tune with how the real world works.

    The artificial socialization set-up in schools stinks and it promotes attitudes that are simply detrimental to developing a healthy marriage and operating in the real world.

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