For a long time, I have believed if we spent the same time on our relationships as we do on our activities and work, there would be a lot fewer divorces or strained families and friendships. Before we get a job, most of us have to do some study or training, in an effort to learn the necessary things needed for the job. When we are at work, we regularly attend conferences and other training sessions, and spend time with our colleagues or staff making sure everyone is happy and heard and that our work is up to standard. We read up on whatever career we are in, we keep up to date with new knowledge and innovations. We remain open-minded and educated and mostly, willing to implement or at least try new things if we can see it will improve our position, or client outcomes, or there is some positive impact on our career or the business. So why then, do most people in a relationship struggle to see the value of being educated and learning new ways to communicate or live together? I see husbands and wives who are unhappy in their relationships, but unwilling to really listen to each other, or even to attend couple counselling. And yet they all willingly update their education for their careers. The same applies to parenting, as so many parents simply parent their children without educating themselves on how is best to do it; their methods are simply copied from their own experience of childhood, even though most of us are living in a very different world to the one we grew up in. My childhood was in the style of a more autocratic society, rather than a democratic one, and so as a parent I had to learn how to parent my children to accommodate this new world. It was not possible to get away with saying; because I told you to, I had to rationally justify or explain the value of whatever it was I was wanting to impress on my children. Whilst parents are mostly aware of their responsibility for raising their children, many still cling to the traditional methods used by their own parents, and I believe we have a responsibility to work on gaining parenting skill sets, and relationship skill sets, that are relevant to the world we currently live in, not the one we grew up in. If we afforded our roles as partners, wives, husbands and parents, with the same respect and rigour we went into our careers with, I suspect our experience of marriage and parenting would be more positive. Many years ago I was friends with a number of couples with young children (prior to being a parent myself), and one couple stands out in my memory. This couple always had one or two holidays per year, without their children, and were often vaguely chastised by the other couples with children for not taking their children with them. Many years later, the couple who had spent time on their relationship in this way was the only one still together. It seems so simple now as I look back. Not taking their children was in no way neglectful of the children; it was their way of working on their own relationship, just like attending a conference for their work. I try to focus my close relationships on love and trust, and spending time together talking and laughing about the things that are important to all of us. I suspect I failed miserably with this in my relationships when I was younger, but thankfully feel like I was more on track by the time I had children in my thirties. One day I hope to get it right!