If we were to design the perfect education system for today’s world, I hardly believe the one that currently exists would be the one we would choose. Very little of the constructs of our education system and the frameworks of our schooling are based on becoming experts in the incredibly important interactions of our day-to-day lives.
As Sir Ken Robinson noted in his first TED talk – the education system is designed to produce university professors.
I’ve known many of them. They are more often than not neither exciting nor engaging.
Shockingly, not once in ANY of my education, throughout grade school and my undergrad, was I ever taught about how to pick great romantic partners, have crucial conversations, exist and thrive in a romantic relationship, be vulnerable, share my emotions, or most importantly, what are the constructs of a healthy (and unhealthy) relationship.
This proves very interesting to me.
I believe that learning how to be and operate in healthy relationships, romantic and otherwise, is the single MOST important skill you can learn in your lifetime.
Your ability to create and participate in healthy relationships will be the deciding factor in how you perform in EVERY facet of your life. Not just romance.
Why do we need to learn how to exist in and maintain thriving relationships?
Because a high performing and satisfying relationship is the largest contributing factor to a happy life. Pretty compelling reason, I would l think.
But thriving relationships are rare. And unhappy people, divorced or not, are pretty easy to find.
Although divorce rates have both declined and maintained relative stability since the mid 1980s, there is no doubt that if divorces aren’t managed with a high level of emotional intelligence, maturity and awareness, the cost can be substantial to the individuals involved, which sometimes can include children. Not to mention the rippling effect on the government, hospitals, prisons, corporations, and the emotional health of all those affected.
So if divorce has a large emotional, financial and mental cost, shouldn’t it be in the government’s best interest to reduce it? Duh.
Where do we currently get our education? Can we do better?
Our education on relationships begins at conception. It’s the moment we’re ejected out of the vagina and shot into this world that we start absorbing every sound, sight and emotional nuance. We are exposed to this schooling through our own interactions with other humans, as well as the interactions that occur in our perceivable world.
This illuminates the vast importance and immense responsibility of how we show up in ANY role in a person’s life.
In every moment we are literally teaching each other with our body language, physical touch and every word we choose.
On top of that, research also shows that we are affected by stress (cortisol levels) in utero. So the relationship we conceive children in and the family environment they are born into can prove to be much more important than we may think.
But not all of us are born into great households.
This is a reality all too true for many of us.
So if our environment has such a profound impact on us, can we learn other behaviours?
There are people who face all sorts of adversity in their lives and far outperform those who were born into positive circumstances. Resilience and post-traumatic growth are beautiful demonstrations of a thriving human condition even after the most painful life experiences.
We are not innately programmed knowing how to be an accountant, high performing athlete, or compelling speaker. Much like these skills are nurtured and developed over our youth, we could all learn how to become relationship masters.
It’s a skill to be a great lover, partner, family member, teammate and friend. A skill that can and should be taught.
Being a happy lover makes for happy people all around us. Love and happiness, by design, are contagious.
Unfortunately divorce is too.
So what’s the solution?
It’s time that we take the education surrounding healthy relationships and what they’re composed of seriously.
If you fail math you don’t fail at life. Quite the opposite. You’re probably pretty cool.
If you fail at understanding how to manage and communicate your emotions, you do potentially fail at life. That’s serious business.
Some people never recover from the pains of heartbreak and traumatizing breakups. The same skills that go into loving also allow us to understand how to love ourselves and how to manage a breakup.
One need just take a stroll down a beach or sit in a coffee shop and listen to all the conversations as proof of a desire for understanding what we want and need from relationships. Religion and culture have made marriage, divorce, and even sex, subjects that are taboo.
The truth is there is no shortage of science and experience to create the curriculum for an evolving course on “Relationships”. One search of Google brings up 504,000,000 results. Pretty amazing, right?
Do we realize that educating everyone in all these different areas will equip us to: choose better partners, operate in healthy relationships and teach our kids to do the same, reduce all the related costs, reduce the rate of divorce…
EVEN IF people do decide to get divorced, with these skills they will be able to do it with both kindness and compassion.
We might just change the world. Because happy people don’t hurt people.
Now all I need is funding to get the ball rolling. Who wants to make a donation?