An Opinion On Why Some Power Couple Marriages Succeed, Some Marriages Fail – by Gary S. Smolker


Updated March 8, 2015



You need a team to make your dream come true.

My Definition of A Good Relationship

Each person should receive something entirely good and loving from the other in a relationship.

Each person should learn from the other as well as contributing in many ways to their sense of well being.

The Impact of Social Environment

In order to achieve excellence in any domain requires a lot of hard work – think of pushing an elephant uphill.

Marriage is no different.

Consider the “temper of the times” we are living in.

We are living amidst a world-wide evolution of “woman’s rights” and in the midst of an ongoing “woman’s rights” revolution.

Marriage is a particularly complicated topic for educated ambitious women to deal with – so much so that the December 2014 issue of the “Harvard Business Review” has an article entitled “Rethink What You ‘Know’ About High Achieving Women.”

That article attempts to explain how “high achieving” women feel about marriage and the impact marriage has had on their lives and careers, and describes what the authors call the plight of high achieving women.

Below is a copy of an email in which I am asked why marriages between high-powered people fail, which I recently received from a friend (Friend #1).

I would love to read anything you would like to tell me about your opinions and ideas and answers to that question.

When I forwarded Friend #1’s email (copy below) to another friend (Friend #2), Friend # 2 responded: “The secret to a successful marriage is to give more than you take.”

I invite your comments on these topics and on the discussion which follows.



Gary S. Smolker, Publisher
The Gary Smolker Idea Exchange Blog


See Answer Which Follows Question Below

—–Original Message—–
To: Gary Smolker <>
Sent: Fri, Feb 6, 2015 7:53 am
Subject: RE: Life Is Full of Interesting Questions

What about the related question of life-partner decisions, what is the recipe for success?   Is there too much put societal pressure to “save” a marriage relationships, for the sake of the kids?  I know couples with kids that can’t afford to get divorced;


Are many of us too selfish in their “needs”?  I know many 45-55 woman who simply can’t understand why a 55-65 man would be with a 30-year-old woman.  They are essentially saying that they were not relatively evolved at age 30 and now are interesting and fun.  Should life-partners have the same hobbies, like the same music and art, have the same friends?  Joint checking accounts probably aren’t a good idea because men cannot appreciate what it costs to be woman; what can a stay at home mom do after the kids leave the nest?


Being now age 50 (almost 51), I know now so many seemingly perfect couples that have split in the past five years, leaving children ages 8 to 17 in the relationship debris.  These couples met in college.  They were all physically attractive then and now.  All were smart with both spouses have advanced degrees, from top  universities.  The couples each seemed like well-matched power couple couples when I met them in their early thirties.  Now 15 or so years later, the relationships ended, leaving hurt spouses and complicated relationships for their children to navigate.


What about couples that can’t afford to get divorced?




There is no such a thing as a “formula” or “recipe” for success in a relationship, in marriage or in any other relationship.

There is no single “linear process” that leads to “success.”

Successful relationships require you to consider not only your own interests and needs but also those of other party or parties, your counterparts.

People’s needs and interests are a moving target, they change over time.

Your chance of having success in your relationship(s) will increase to the extent you understand your counterpart’s thoughts, feelings and motives, intentions and interests and focus on the big picture, i.e. to the extent that each person in a relationship focuses on what each person is trying to accomplish.

Ask yourself the and ask your friends to ask themselves the following questions:

  • Do you understand your counterpart’s point of view?
  • Do you understand your counterpart’s motivation?
  • Do you understand your counterpart’s goals?
  • Do you understand your counterpart’s priorities?
  • Do you understand your counterpart’s needs?
  • Do you know what is on your counterpart’s mind?
  • Do you understand what is on your counterpart’s mind?
  • Do you understand what is important to your counterpart.
  • Do you understand how your counterpart thinks?
  • Do you understand your counterpart’s situational constraints – your counterpart’s level of power, skill, savy, time, energy and responsibilities?
  • Do you understand how your counterpart feels, and perceives the current situation?
  • Do you understand how your counterpart understands the choices ahead?
  • Do the your friends trust each other?


If you want to find an explanation, at why your friend’s marriages failed look at “root causes.”

Answer the following questions about your friends’ “failed marriages.”

  • Did the couple have the same goals?
  • Do they presently have the same goals?
  • Did they want the same outcomes?
  • Do they want the same outcomes now?
  • Did they respect each other?
  • Do they respect each other now?
  • Did they understand each other’s thoughts, feelings and motives?
  • Do they understand each other’s thoughts, feelings, motives and intentions now?
  • Did one of them make the other feel bad about something the other person enjoys?
  • Did one of them believe that their time was more important than the other person’s time?
  • Does one of them now believe that their time is more important than the other person’s time?
  • Did one of them not agree with the other person’s life style?
  • Did they understand each other’s level of power, skill, savvy, responsibilities, time availability, level of energy and other situational constraints?
  • Does either one of them feel inadequate?
  • Do they understand how the other person in their relationship feels, perceives and understands the choices ahead?
  • Have they talked to each other about any of the topics listed above?

Was there a common thread that linked them together?

Is there a common thread that links them together now?

Did they support each other emotionally?

Do they support each other emotionally now?

  • On the one hand, I’ve read that the emotional support of your partner is the best predictor of success in terms of your subjective well-being.  The reasons being:
  1. In personal relationships it helps if your partner values your projects and vice versa.
  2. The best predictor of relational success is the extent to which you share your personal projects and give emotional support to each other.  On another hand, I’ve read a second article which states that a dutiful spouse can boost your career.
  • In the second article the authors unequivocally state that the only spousal trait that is important to your work outcomes is conscientiousness.

According to the second article the conscientiousness of your spouse is/will be a solid predictor of your income, job promotions, and job satisfaction, regardless of gender (and regardless of your own degree of conscientiousness).  The reasons given being:

  1. Conscientious spouses handle a lot of the household chores and planning, freeing their partners to concentrate on their jobs or simply to recharge.
  2. People who have conscientious spouses typically feel more satisfied in their marriages and therefore have more mental energy to devote to their work.

The authors of the second article qualify the above statements by saying, this doesn’t mean that your success depends on your being in a relationship. “Plenty of single people shine at work, of course, and plenty of effective business leaders are unattached.”

In terms of going forward with life, I believe you can’t change the past.

I also think you have to depend on yourself.  You are responsible for you.

I believe in taking risks.

In that regards, I like the following quote from J. K. Rowling:

It is impossible to live without failing, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case you have failed by default.  — J. K. Rowling, author

Keep in mind the environment in which we, they, and you live.

We are living in the midst of a civil rights movement in which many women are vigorously striving for “equality” with men.

Women feel they have been subjugated and they resent it.

Women want to be with men who “respect” women.

Women do not want to be with a man who they believe does not “respect” women.

Many women say they want to be treated as “equals,” i.e., they want equal job opportunities, equal career opportunities, to get “equal pay” for “equal work” and an equal division of labor and responsibilities in their relationship with a man.

Women are aghast at how few women have top leadership positions in the business world and in society.

They are aghast at how widespread domestic violence is, they are also aghast that society does not and/or cannot protect them from abuse, sexual harassment and/or domestic violence.

Many single women have told me they think the intimidate men.

Many men and women have told me they feel that the deck is stacked against men in the legal system and consequently men do not want to get married.

Many people have told me young men do not want to marry because they see what happened to men/husbands in divorce proceedings.

Many single men and many married men have told me they feel they are being treated by a woman like an ATM (a cash dispensing machine) and resent being treated that way.

Both the marriage rate and the fertility rate are down in developed countries.

Social change is in the air.

Consider the “temper of the times.”

Social foment is everywhere.

We are surrounded by social foment and social protest “everywhere.”


I use the following index to measure the state of a relationship: (a) add up the number of compliments, (b) add up the number of complaints and (c) divide by the number of complements by the number of complaints.

If there are more complaints than compliments there is a problem.

If there are more compliments than complaints you are in a good relationship.

The above formula can be refined as follows:

  • Some complaints deserve a higher ranking than other complaints.  Give them a higher weight (a higher number than “one”) depending on how significant those complaints are to you.
  • Some compliments deserve a higher ranking than other compliments. Give them a higher weight ( a higher number higher than “one”) depending on how significant and sincere those compliments are/appear to be to you.
  • Give more or less weight to each compliment and each complaint at your discretion.

I use the above formula as a rough approximation of the state of any relationship.

Have firm principles, expound them clearly, act upon them decisively; set goals, make a detailed plan of action to reach them and keep in mind the following thoughts:

  1. “You must have long-range goals to keep you from being frustrated by short-term failures.” – Charles Noble, military leader
  2. “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill, British prime minister
  3. “When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this – you haven’t.” – Thomas Edison, inventor
  4. “Don’t find fault, find a remedy.” – Henry Ford, industrialist
  5. “A man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” – Muhammad Ali, World Champion Boxer

The value of relationships are unlocked incrementally over time, through on the job learning.

Learning as a couple from your errors will turn your errors into stepping-stones to success.


To achieve understanding, it is necessary not to see many things, but to look hard at what you do see.

Going Forward

You need a team to make your dreams come true.

Good luck and best wishes,


The Gary Smolker Thoughtful Person Club

I’ve started a “Thoughtful Person Club.”

To join “The Gary Smolker Thoughtful Person Club” send your name and e-mail address to me at my e-mail Internet address

According to WordPress, in 2014, people in 108 different countries viewed the “Gary S. Smolker Idea Exchange Blog” at


Copyright © 2015 by Gary S. Smolker




About Gary S. Smolker

PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY: No enterprise can exist for itself alone. Every successful enterprise ministers to some great need, it performs some great service, not for itself, but for others. Otherwise, it ceases to be profitable and ceases to exist. Imagination, open mindedness and flexibility are the most important factors in unlocking potential. Those who embrace innovation, improvisation, continuous learning, time management, are action oriented, high energy, passionate, creative, purposeful and intense individuals are best equipped to succeed. We all have ideas and the ability to make progress by sharing information and our ideas and also by changing our ideas when appropriate. We should always be on the lookout for teaching and mentoring moments. We hold time like water in our hands; however tightly we clench our fingers, it drips away. But, if it falls on a seed, a seed may grow to become something that will have a positive social impact. PERSONAL INTERESTS: I have a passion to learn, to innovate, to lead, to mentor and to teach. I seek to write things worth reading and want to do things worth writing about. I enjoy (a) driving a fast car, (b) having intense conversations (c) teaching/mentoring, (d) reading and (e) being involved in productive activity. PERSONAL: I believe in cultivating and backing passionate people, innovation, and old fashioned good ideas. I love making human connections and spreading good ideas. I am strongly motivated to achieve in situations in which independence of thought and action are called for. PERSONAL GOALS: I want to live life vibrantly, to be as sharp as a tack until my last breath and to change the world by being me. My personal goal is to be fully engaged in life, to lead by example, to set high standards and to continue to amass firsthand experience and knowledge in all that interests me. PERSONALITY: I love fun and mischief. I relish absurdity. I have an irreverent, facetious and satiric disposition. I dread boredom. I have spent a lifetime reading. I have no bias against people who have lived successful and/or complicated lives. I write to release tension, to get things off my chest. SOCIAL MEDIA: I post articles on the "Gary S. Smolker Idea Exchange" blog at, and "Dude's Guide to Women's Shoes" at I also post images and comments on Instagram @garyspassion. CONTACT INFORMATION: Gary Smolker, Smolker Law Firm, 16055 Ventura Blvd., Ste 525, Encino, California, 91436-2609, USA. Phone 1-818-788-7290, e-mail

Posted on February 21, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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