In the book, Talent Is Overrated, Geoff Colvin suggests that we are not born with talent. Instead, he sights evidence that talent is born of practice. He points out that people who are good at something have practiced specific skills over many weeks, months, and years to achieve their exceptional level of ability.
Someone exceptionally good in sports, business or music is labeled gifted, their skill attributed to an inborn gift that the average person does not have. Colvin points to research that indicates that the best predictor of someone being talented in their field is the individual’s willingness to practice particularly when practicing is difficult.
How do you assess the basis for good marriages? Do you attribute a good marriage to a fortunate choice of partners or to a willingness to practice skills which contribute to intimacy? Most couples think of relationships as stagnant, meaning that they are what they are – either good or bad. Few think in terms of relationship building and the need to build relationship skills. In fact, a popular belief is that relationships should not be difficult and if they are difficult then there is something wrong with the relationship.
Marriage counselors understand that relationships require skills to connect, skills that are not taught in schools and often not demonstrated by parents. Most marriage counseling is sought years after the marriage has become dysfunctional. This is because marriage counselors are thought of as treatment for abnormal marriages that have failed where most have succeeded. It is difficult to admit that you have failed to have a normal marriage.
In fact, the percentage of couples who divorce added to the number that remain married but disconnected suggest that the norm is disconnection. Even though everyone getting married today expects to remain emotionally, physically and sexually connected for years to come, the reality is that most will disconnect. It is the exceptional couple who are able to maintain a connection!
Instead of thinking of marriage counseling as treatment for a troubled marriage, consider it as relationship coaching. A coach helps the athlete achieve maximum performance through practice. Similarly, a marriage counselor can help a relationship achieve maximum intimacy through learning and practicing relationship skills.