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Love and Marriage Article

Married With Children: Jon and Kate Did It All Wrong

by Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz

Like us, we are sure many of you have been following the on-going saga surrounding the so-called “reality” show, Jon & Kate Plus Eight.  Well, it seems like Jon and Kate are going to go their separate ways – divorce seems eminent.  Ah, but apparently, the show must go on in spite of their impending divorce.  Where to begin!

As you know, we have been studying successful love, marriage, and relationships for over 25 years.  We have learned a lot about what makes successful marriages work from the many interviews we have conducted on five continents of the world.  We have written extensively about our findings.

The sad truth is, Jon and Kate could have learned some valuable lessons if only they had reviewed our research findings!  If they had, they might still be happily married and their eight children might have gotten to live and grow up in a loving, caring, and facilitative home environment.  But alas, they didn’t.

So here is where our message comes in today – there are four major caveats we have learned over the years from all those successfully married couples we have interviewed that we think applies to the case of Jon & Kate Plus Eight – the Gosselin family.

Here they are in a nutshell:

1.  The relationship between mom and dad trumps everything else in a marriage.
We have written about this in both our marriage books and in a number of articles we have posted on the Internet.  This notion is particularly true for marriages with children!  And let’s be honest here, children don’t “save a marriage,” and often times having children is, as Norah Ephron pointed out in Heartburn, “like throwing a hand grenade into a marriage.”  Children change the dynamics of the relationship to say the least.  But know this -- families survive and thrive more than anything else because of the quality of the relationship between Mom and Dad.  It is no more complicated than that.  Raising children is an awesome responsibility, and doing it well requires Mom and Dad to keep their relationship strong, happy, and successful.   To do otherwise is to have your family turn into Jon & Kate Plus 8.

We wish that Jon and Kate had read Chapter VI in our award winning book, Golden Anniversaries.

2.  Successfully married couples do not air their family laundry (dirty or otherwise) in public.
Successfully married couples tell us time and time again -- never share in a public forum any private family matters, period!  Why do you think they call them “family secrets?”  Once said in public the words can never be taken back.  The damage is already done.  We have found over our many years of interviews – you never tell family secrets in public and you never criticize your spouse in public!  Jon and Kate apparently never learned these lessons.  Too bad.  Their children deserve better than to be in the public eye – they deserve better than to in the cross-hairs of their parent’s very public family choices.

3.  Exploiting your family, particularly your children, for fame and fortune is never a good thing.
Your children are your most precious and important responsibility.  They deserve your protection, your love, your guidance, your support, and your undying faith.   Children are so vulnerable – they are so trusting of their parents.  And when we betray that trust with them by putting them before the public eye of millions of people, we do great harm to them.  Just imagine – taking your children and putting them on national television week after week and then pretending that there are not negative consequences for such actions.  Let us make this clear – your children do not want the public eye.  Your children should not be in the public eye.  The potential for harm to their children was apparently not realized by Jon and Kate.  Too bad, for sure.

4.  Privacy and alone time are one of the hallmarks of a successful marriage.
Every human being has the dual need for privacy and aloneness.  The recognition and practice of the absolute need for privacy and aloneness is, in our judgment after analyzing hundreds of interviews, a fundamental predisposition of successful marriages.  The amount of time available to satisfy these two needs varies from one marriage to another and from one marriage partner to another.  But one thing is clear, all marriages will stand the test of time only if these dual needs are recognized and respected.

It is clear to us that the VERY public display of the Gosselin family’s “business” pre-empted any chance that Jon and Kate had for time alone – for private time.

We wonder what kind of “DO NOT DISTURB sign” they should have worked out as a couple.  We wonder whether they would be getting a divorce if they had only allowed each other more time alone.  We only wonder what the outcome of this whole affair would have been if they recognized how important privacy was to the success of their marital relationship.

In the end, Jon and Kate would certainly have benefitted by knowing the “four caveats of  successful marriage,”  Maybe there is hope for their family.  Maybe there is hope for their eight children. 

Simple things matter in love and marriage.  Love well.

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