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Teaching Our Youth Healthy Life Partnerships

My neighbor and friend asked how we teach our adolescents and young adults how to find a marriage partner.


There are three things that interfere with people being able to find a lasting partnership. The first is that we live in a time where divorce is a viable and acceptable option. What I mean by that is in generations past it was not so. So the children of those parents had the possibility or probability of seeing a relationship that had to work through its difficulties and challenges. Of course, the downside is that children of abusive households did not see one parent leave another to rescue the children from the hostile environment. But if we put abuse aside, we know that our children back then saw parents who were the spine of the family and had to go through their challenges together in order to push forward. Today, with divorce being so acceptable people are more apt to divorce rather than work through any struggles or challenges in the relationship.


A second difference is that today we have decided that rather than getting married for practical reasons or by design, that we will marry because of love. But what is love? And more importantly, what is love to you. Most people have come to believe that to marry for love means they’re going to have a marriage with someone with whom they feel this ”Wow!” Many further believe they should always be able to keep this love alive! It is as if they will fall in love, go wow, and ride into the sunset together. I’m being a bit silly with that but what I do find is that most people think that marrying for love means they will have a very blissful, fun, enjoyable, relationship with one another. Unfortunately, in that equation they forget about the fact that, by design, this life has challenges. So you cannot have a life partnership without challenges. In fact, your greatest relationships will bring up your deepest challenges. So if you get married you can bank on the fact that your challenges are going to be brought to the surface.


The third piece that I believe has an impact on lasting marriage today is that as a people we are very externally focused. Consequently, most people think that they are picking the partner. I hear people describe their list of qualities and characteristics of that person who will make their perfect marriage partner. You can find, however, at least 10 individuals with the same qualities and characteristics but all of them will give you a very very different experience in a relationship. We cannot develop a healthy, fulfilling, loving relationship by picking a person with particular characteristics.


That being said, what do we want to teach our young and in order to help them develop healthy relationships? First as adults and or parents, we must look at our own relationships and begin to heal those. We need to display healthy relationships so that the children of our community can see what that is. Our children need to experience healthy relationships by virtue of knowing them and living around or with them.


Second, we must start to teach our adolescents and young adults how to speak their truth, resolve conflicts, communicate, accept their Self, etc. we must teach them that love, true love, in a life partnership endures and grows from the challenges presented to it. We must teach them that the same truth exists within their own self for their own life. It is then that they will learn to communicate in a style of exploring (self and other) with teaching (self) and learning (other). This opens the relationship rather than meeting expectations which are external to self.


A third suggestion is we need to begin to teach ourselves and our youth that we are not looking for an ideal partner — we’re looking for the ideal partnership. We need to teach them, and help them know, what experience they wish to have in her life partnership. Once they know the experience they wish to have, then they will meet all of these people with similar characteristics but will be more able to choose the one person who is willing to match in developing a healthy, loving, accepting relationship going forward.


It certainly would be nice if divorce became not so comfortable or acceptable. It would be nice if we truly helped married couples work through the challenges and stay together. Most choose, instead, to jump on the bandwagon with them and help them get divorced. Friends tend to get caught up in their friend’s anger at the other and, thereby, fuel a divorce. It is an understandable reaction as a friend. It is just not the only stance nor is it always the most beneficial.


In closing, if we could gain a greater understanding of how to create a healthy life partnership in general. We would live, display and propagate healthy relationships in our youth. This means we need to change our way of defining our relationships, the way we communicate, and where we place our life focus. Together, as a people, if we truly begin to learn to have a healthy partnership, we will strengthen our family structure and bonds. With a stronger family unit, this country would begin to heal most of its social challenges. And so it is, one person at a time can change a country or a world. If you choose to learn a healthy relationship you will affect AT LEAST your lineage going forward!


1 Comment »

  1. Having been married twice (the second time for more than 20 years) and I have experienced first what didn’t work and now what does work. Demonstrating a healthy partnership to our children has been vital to my older kids. Like me, they have seen the good, bad, and the ugly. But I love your 3rd recommendation – picking a partnership not a partner. In every challenge our marriage has faced, resolution came from looking at the partnership and letting go of my perspective from my position. My wife just seems to bring that out from me, although I do sometimes need to “sit in my cave” for awhile.

    Comment by William Longstreth

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Kristen Bomas, PA
398 Camino Gardens Blvd., Suite 104
Boca Raton, Fl 33432


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