HOW MARRIAGES ARE STRUCTURED LIKE COMPANIES
All the remarks that follow can be applied to same-sex relationships as well.
Marriage is like a business but not all businesses are created equal. A marriage is more like a Partnership than an LLC, a partnership whose purpose is the management of a shared life. Partnerships are formed as a result of two companies merging. Mergers are always performed to improve the profitability of the two companies involved. Profitability is defined as net gain. Good partnerships result from a careful choosing of partners that have a shared vision for a company, complementary skills, and similar long-term goals. How each partnership defines these parameters will vary depending on the type of partnership in question and in general defines your partnership's business plan:
THE MATCHING PRINCIPLE
If one company takes over another, you don't have a merger—you have an acquisition. Acquisitions aren't about the coming together of equals. Acquisitions are about one company absorbing another into itself while retaining the essence of its original identity, an identity to which the absorbed company remains subservient. Certainly, many marriages are built on the acquisition model. And not that it can't work, but because people in general tend to grow more independent over time, the acquisition model may become problematic as the subservient partner feels increasingly less inclined to remain so.
Though acquisitions are difficult, true mergers—where two companies come together as equals to create a blended entity resulting in a new whole greater than the sum of its parts—are even harder. Though opposites may indeed attract, as the saying goes, in my view usually (though not always) in a mutually pathological way (eg, the attraction between a overly dependent person and a person who needs to be needed). In general, to be successful as a new company, mergers must abide by the Matching Principle, which states that the two companies involved must be evenly matched in certain key areas:
EIGHT STRATEGIES FOR LONG-TERM SUCCESS IN PARTNERSHIPS
Certain business processes, if followed, will help safeguard the long-term health of your partnership. The problem most partnerships face isn't that they don't perform these functions but that they don't perform them consistently. The reason standard operating procedures (SOPs) work to make businesses successful is that they're actually "standard"—that is, they're applied by every member of the partnership. SOPs aren't a part of every business model, but businesses that use them are in general more successful. Here are some important SOPs you might want to consider incorporating into your partnership:
Despite the use of these and other strategies, even the healthiest marriages remain in constant danger failing. Truthfully, marriages aren't just like businesses; they're also like flowers: in need of constant watering. But—whenever you get fed up with your life and really mad at your partner, obsessively focused on his or her negative qualities, and find yourself gleefully fantasizing about leaving and finding a new partner at some other superior company where those negative qualities are absent—pause a moment and remember why you chose your current partner in the first place. If you chose wisely (and admittedly that's a big if), you might just realize all the positive qualities you saw in the beginning are still there; that the virtues that made your partner such a great match for you in the first place still makes him or her the best choice you could have made. At least, that's what always happens to me.
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to explore Dr. Lickerman's home page, Happiness in this World.