The Ten Percent Factor
Sometimes, whole weekends become a write-off.
Sometimes, what should be quality, loving time with each other turns into days of fights and arguments and distance from each other, and no matter how hard you try to find each other again the slightest little thing will set you off and snowball into another argument. You know that you still love each other, you know in your hearts that there's nothing seriously wrong, you're just going through a rough patch... but it still feels pretty awful. Worst of all, it makes you wonder how you can fight so much when you're supposed to be so much in love.
Sometimes, you don't fight at all. Sometimes, to keep the peace, you keep quiet about the things he says or the things she does that drive you up the wall. Sometimes you fume to yourself, or have whispered conversations with the bathroom mirror or complain to your coworkers, your mother, your best friend. And sometimes all this irritation and annoyance builds up and you start to think maybe you aren't right for each other after all, maybe you're just too different and are better living apart than together.
There is a solution to this - or rather, a factor to be considered. The Ten Percent Factor, to be exact, and if you fully understand it and live by it, you'll never be troubled with these doubts again.
It goes like this: Ten percent of the time, in even the best possible relationships, the person you love most in the world will drive you nuts. Ten percent of the time they'll annoy you, irritate you, anger you or frustrate you, they'll disappoint you or cause an unnecessary fight. Ten percent of the time they'll be in a foul mood or behave irrationally or indulge in petty emotions. And ten percent of the time, they'll be thinking the same thing about you.
The Ten Percent Factor can be applied broadly - if you imagine your spouse as a 100% whole, then it's about 10% of them that drives you crazy. You're madly in love with ninety percent of them, but just those odd few little mannerisms or habits or attitudes - that last ten percent of their personality - is enough to make you want to get in your car and drive as far away as you can. If you're imaginative enough, and comfortable enough with the concept, you can apply this concept to your life and your spouse's in general - ninety per cent of the time you're successful, happy, pro-value people, and ten per cent of the time...well, you get the idea.
And it also applies to other important people in your life - if you look at every relationship you have, with your family and friends as well as your spouse, it's probably occurred to you at some point that everything is pretty good "most of the time", but every once in a while all hell breaks loose and you end up miserable. Even the sweetest, most adorable person in your life has a habit or two that would make Mother Theresa swear, and every so often you just can't control your temper, you find yourself cursing the person that you normally love. This is why it's so crucial to understand what's really going on - it's the damnable ten percent, rearing its ugly head.
I'm overemphasizing this point because I believe that the better you understand this principle, the easier it will be to deal with the so-called "ups and downs" of marriage. Most people labor under the belief that love is perfection, that if you really love someone you'll never fight or get on each other's nerves, and that disagreements or bad feelings must signify a serious problem in the relationship. But if you understand that ten percent of the time your marriage and your partner are going to be anything but perfect, it'll help you sail through those times and look forward to the return of the other ninety percent. It'll also give you a fairly accurate yardstick by which to measure the success of your marriage - if you figure out that, in your case, it's more like forty percent or fifty percent or higher, then you know you have a problem. If your spouse drives you nuts more than three days a month or if you find ten things you hate about your spouse for every one you love, then something's got to change.
This sounds pretty simple, because it is. We've long heard the adages that "no one's perfect" and that "familiarity breeds contempt" but no one has ever defined what that means, exactly, or how to cope with it.
No one has ever figured out what would a reasonable amount of strife would look like and how to measure it - until now. You don't have to a psychologist to come to some common sense conclusions about the nature of relationships, you just have to observant, and patient, and realistic.
Nobody's perfect, no relationship is perfect - but fights don't always have to result. When you get the urge to yell, try to figure out if this is one of those ten percent times, and if it is, let it go. Or, as the saying goes, count to ten...