07/23/2024

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My partner at the time and I ran a management analysis test to see if we were compatible.

Using Google Docs, we wrote down our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Eight years later, I see how our weaknesses and threats caused us to break up.

Candlelight dinners and massages are higher on most newlyweds’ date night lists than applying strategic management analysis techniques to their fledgling relationship.

But one of my most romantic bonding moments with my former partner was a month-long SWOT analysis of our relationship. Since we were about 1,000 miles apart, we shared a Google document and pulled together the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of our relationship.

Our list was well thought out
The “strengths” section was a little confusing for both of us. “Being with you brings out the best in me personally and professionally,” one of us wrote.

As our first strength, we listed the career path that brought us together professionally two years before any romantic event; second, our physical compatibility; and third, our mutual belief in punctuality.

We recognize the open and honest communication we’ve established and the pride we take in each other’s work accomplishments.

Considering that we want to look at it soberly and not see our relationship through a lens coated with Vaseline, we listed the same number of weaknesses. In the SWOT giver style, we then look for weaknesses that can be turned into strengths and opportunities.

Living in a different country, our first weakness, was the easiest to address. I am happy to have more opportunities to return to my home country, where he speaks fluent Spanish. He jumped at the chance to spend more time in Madrid, where I am.

Unfortunately, we did that before we put our rose-colored glasses back on.

Our relationship didn’t work out.
Now, when I look at the document eight years later, I see that not only did the weaknesses and threats we listed ultimately divide us, but we never turned most of them into strengths or opportunities.

Apparently, the last edits to the shared document were made two months after the relationship was established. If we wanted our relationship to continue, it should have been a blueprint that we added to regularly and presented to our relationship consultant.

Instead, we did what most people do: we ignored the fundamentals and got distracted by superficiality.

Weaknesses quickly eroded 6 of the 11 strengths. We identified threats and weaknesses but took no action, which turned our good communication and mutual respect and admiration into obstruction and contempt.

Our unresolved weaknesses – such as the time one of us spent working away from home, our unequal incomes, and the emotional trauma of the divorce that allowed us to stay together – turned into resentment.

Worse, our issues around money and eventual dislike for each other shaped our relationship as exes, and we failed to work together as co-parents.

I still recommend this exercise
I believe the SWOT analysis is like a crystal ball that can tell you if your relationship will work or not.

Some people think your first argument is also the last thing you argue about, but you don’t even need to wait for the argument to see what might have led to it. Many of us would like to believe that “when you know, you know” will help us recognize “that”. But this feeling is often hormones and desires disguised as intuition.

In fact, natural analytical skills drive our intuition, and SWOT analysis can extract and break down what our intuition tells us.

Personally, I would never try to build another serious relationship without some SWOT-style honesty on both sides. But next time, I’ll be sure to grab the wisdom of my crystal ball and apply it, because without action, today’s insight will be tomorrow’s hindsight.

Nicola Prentis is a freelance writer based in Spain who writes educational materials, stories and articles on relationships, parenting and motherhood for various media outlets.

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