Achievers and Connectors often marry each other in military (and civilian) life, but can they live happily ever after?
It ain't easy. According to psychologist Tony Ferretti and physician Peter Weiss, authors of The Love Fight, when Achievers and Connectors get together their marriages are often at high risk for failure.
Achievers want to devote themselves to the job while spending little effort on the family. Connectors long for the energy and participation of their high achieving partner. When that desire goes unanswered, the relationship blows up--or the couple gives up and starts living as roommates.
We often hear about that kind of thing on SpouseBuzz. In a recent poll about what your service member needs to do for the family, Tanya wrote directly to service members:
“Do us with the same level you do your work…When you fail to encourage me as your spouse, support your children as a parent, pursue us as an entity but give your all at work, it gives the wrong impression on our value. Failure to see us (the civilian dependent, children) as worthy of your full effort sometimes leaves a bitter feeling that we are unwelcome and only useful as accessories during homecoming and unit picnics.”
Are you an Achiever or a Connector?According to Ferretti and Weiss, Achievers are those people whose identities are built around their accomplishments.
Think of midlevel enlisted and junior officers who would do anything for their troops--even when they haven’t had dinner with their kids in three weeks. Think of senior enlisted who geobach so they can devote more of themselves to the job. Think of senior officers who never leave the Pentagon while the escalators are still running.
Shoot, think of anyone in uniform who proudly says, “Army first. Family second.”
Connectors are much different than Achievers.Connectors are those people whose identities are built around their relationships. Think of the military spouses you know who seem to read their children’s minds. Who can’t go for their run if someone in the family is crying. Who seem to know who just had a baby or got diagnosed with breast cancer needs a food chain. Think of those spouses who know how to make everything just right for their partners--and do that.
These two types are opposites.While Connectors devote themselves to relationships, Ferretti and Weiss note how Achievers are not really that interested in relationships at all. “Achievers often marry individuals who are more focused on relationships—perhaps, consciously or subconsciously, making up for their deficiencies in this area.”
The early years of the marriage go pretty well. Each type specializes in what they do best. But later the misplaced priorities of the Achiever can destroy the relationships they say they want.
That’s when the Love Fight comes in.Ferretti and Weiss say that the Love Fight isn’t the fight for who is right and who is wrong. It is the fight for the survival of the relationship. Winning the love fight means understanding each other and coming back together in a happy committed relationship.
Instead they cut to the chase. If you are in the middle of an Achiever/Connector relationship and things are getting rocky, get help from a counselor NOW.
They say that it is so difficult to help a couple after the marriage fails. A counselor can help couples make their relationship a priority, create a marriage of equals, create pathways for conflict resolution and restore trust and intimacy.
If your Achiever partner will not agree to counseling, go on your own. Free counseling is available to military spouses via Tricare or Military OneSource.
With all their differences, the Achiever/Connector relationship can be a powerful success. It is worth it to learn how you can use your differences to build a stronger whole.
USMC Photo by Photo by Cpl. Mark W. Stroud