Contribution to Eurocean 2000 (European Conference on Marine Science & Ocean Technology), where I was invited as a provocateur for the session on the relation of Industry and Science.


Advice for a Happy Marriage

from: Saskia E. Werners, adviser integrated coastal management  

It cannot be emphasised enough: It takes time and energy to strengthen a marriage. But it can be done. If you come to our afternoon-session B on the 30th of August you’ve taken the first step toward making the marriage between marine science and industry work. It shows that you are willing to devote some time and energy to the identification of problems and opportunities in the relation between marine science and industry for the sustainable use of the marine environment.

Why Marriages Fail

Not all marriages fail for the same reason. The most frequent causes are however:

    ~      Poor communication
~      Financial problems
~      Lack of commitment & Infidelity
~       Failed expectations or unmet needs


Poor communication often lies at the base of marital problems. Problems arise from the different ways partners communicate. For example, a scientist who complains about a terrible day at work probably wants encouragement, not a discussion about dropping the project altogether. Alternatively, an industrialist who asks where to go next probably wants an answer, not a vague response that “more research is needed.”

Financial Problems

One of the constant subjects of marital disagreement is money. The key is to set short- and long-term goals together and to make sure both partners have some money to spend however they like.

Lack of Commitment, Infidelity & Failed Expectations

To keep your marriage healthy you have to commit time and energy to it. Infidelity may occur when the expectations and priorities of a partner are not met or shift. Needless to say that infidelity puts a marriage under enormous strain. Always discuss your needs and each other's welfare openly.

The Journey to Happiness: Improving Your Relationship

It has been said that most of life’s happiness emanates from one’s marriage. I hope that the advice provided here helps you improve the relationship between marine science and industry.

Y      Don’t expect to get more from your partner than you give of yourself. Respect intellectual property rights and share information at an early stage to enhance the chances of collaboration.

Y      Learn to listen. Science and industry have to improve their communication.

Y      Learn to express you worries, but argue respectfully. Scientists have to take responsibility in signalling non-sustainable use even if this may seem to conflict with the interests of industry. Don't forget that both research & industry can be stimulated strongly by public & political concern

Y      Don’t try to change your partner; try to discover his or her strongest points and encourage these.

Y      Keep an open eye for your environment and the way it changes. Understanding of the marine system as a whole is essential to evaluate non-sustainable use and focus the contribution of science and industry to sustainable development.

Y      Set clear goals that can be evaluated. Meaningful indicators for sustainable development have to be target specific, predictable and reflect the characteristics of your environment.

Y      Keep your relation exciting. Give you & your partner the opportunity to explore new challenges.

Please treat this sheet as merely an introduction to the process of working on a relation. In addition to the tips contained here, your library or local bookstore contains a wealth of information, as does the Internet. Couples should also not be afraid to seek professional help from a trained consultant.