You may or not know that I’m a Jordan Peterson fan. Well, junkie is more like it. (I will assume by now most of you have heard his name. If not, this is a good place to start.)
I believe the reason for Peterson’s meteoric rise is three things: timing, because America is thirsty for someone in authority to speak in a politically incorrectly (read: honest) manner regularly and often; his brilliant decision to use You Tube to record almost everything he says and does; and his ability to take complicated issues and explain them in layman’s terms. There are countless videos, interviews and articles to watch and read about Peterson. If you start your search, prepare to be on the computer awhile.
The reason for my post today is this video, in which Peterson addresses the topic of my work. The question he’s initially asked by a student is how to know when to stay in a marriage or relationship, but Peterson’s answer was much broader in scope.
Here are its four overarching themes:
- You don’t have that many chances in life to establish a “serious, high quality, intimate relationship,” so it’s costly to “burn up time” by not being purposeful about that part of life. This is, in effect, the underlying message of all my work. Women in particular only have so many chances to get the relationship thing right, and in a relatively short period of time. So it makes zero sense for women to focus exclusively on education and career throughout their twenties, as they are encouraged by our society to do. When Peterson talks of “costs,” he’s talking primarily about time. If you wait too long, for example, you’re likely looking at medical intervention to try and conceive a child. And if you have a succession of long-term relationships, there’s a lot you lose in the process—not just time but, for instance, the ability to establish a working relationship with the right person in preparation for the rest of your life. I’ve always said you’re better off finding a spouse early in the game so that part’s done and you have plenty of time to focus on how to build a life together.
- Divorce is unbelievably complicated unless one or both spouses is reasonable, which isn’t often, since that’s why the divorce is happening in the first place. There’s almost always one partner who doesn’t want the divorce, so an ensuing catastrophe is typically not far behind. “You might be negotiating with someone whose goal is to make sure you don’t have another day of success in the next 20 years. And if that’s their goal, they will attain it.” Many people hold their children hostage, for instance. Plus divorce disrupts your relationship with your kids, far more so than people understand until they’ve done it.
- To avoid the mess of a broken marriage or endless broken relationships, “don’t make the kind of stupid decisions that will get you in that mess to begin with.” What he means by that is to be purposeful about your choice of partner and to be honest with him or her about what you want. And if your partner doesn’t reciprocate, leave. Don’t waste more time when you see the relationship isn’t going anywhere. Move on—because you don’t have a lot of time.
- You have to prioritize your marriage to keep it from getting stale or going south. A husband and wife must have regular conversation and regular dating. Don’t assume that just because you’re married you can sit back because the work is done and you’ve found your spouse. You have to put constant effort into the relationship in order for it to flourish, which takes our physical and emotional presence. Relationships don’t build themselves.