The often-cited statistic is that half of all marriages end in divorce. But ending a marriage is not something most do lightly or remember fondly; as many as half of all divorced people wish that they had tried harder to save the union. If you are one the many people wondering how to save your marriage, let us walk through some points to think about.
Relationships Can Be Rebuilt
The late French actress Simone Signoret has been credited as saying, “Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years.” Like the threads in a cloth, the stitches of a marriage can wear over time. And similarly, they can be reinforced, built up, even after some erosion has started. Marriage counseling is, of course, a great place to start – even before your marriage starts to show signs of wear. With or without a relationship counselor, here are some places to start.
• Follow Ghandi’s lead by being the change you want to see in your marriage. One of the most often-cited reasons for divorce is a lack of commitment. But one way to feel committed to someone is make them a priority. Parents do this with their children – by doting on our kids, we create an allegiance to them. Making the effort to put your spouse first and serve them in some way can both re-awaken a love in your heart and inspire reciprocity from your other half.
• Be realistic. Another reason couples split is that they imagined a utopia marriage. There is no perfect marriage and there are no perfect people; marriage is always the union of two flawed people. Accept your spouse for who he or she is and avoid comparing to any fairy tale. Remember, comparison steals joy.
• Allow both of you to grow – ultimately together. It is a mistake to imagine that the person standing before you at the alter is the person you are marrying. Rather, you are marrying the person he or she will become. If you both understand this, you are in a better position to try to grow together instead of into two separate, autonomous beings.
• Be faithful – and consider counseling to work through cheating – Another destroyer of marriages is cheating. Infidelity breeds despair on everyone involved – from the hurt, embarrassment, and sense of betrayal often felt by the innocent spouse to the sense of guilt and shame that can oppress the cheating spouse. But where there is still a foundation worth rebuilding, many couples come out stronger and happier after an affair through lots of emotional counseling.
How To Avoid Divorce
Of course, once you are married, it is a little too late to undo some of the factors that increase a person’s chances of getting divorced. But research into the circumstances that can contribute to divorce can give some insight into how to avoid a severed relationship. Some identified contributors include:
• Being a child of divorce – Having divorced parents will double your chances of divorce, and marrying someone who is also from a broken marriage will triple your chances.
• Young age at marriage – Getting hitched in your teens is a lot riskier than waiting to your 20’s.
• Low income – A divorce can be financially devastating but the ironic fact is that money troubles are a common stress that lead to the breakdown of a marriage.
• Lack of higher education – Couples who have at least some college education are more likely to stick together.
• Living together before marriage – Studies have shown that people who co-habitate before marrying have more lax opinions on divorce and often develop communication skills that are damaging to a long-term relationship.
• Not identifying with a religion – Individuals who identify with a religion are less likely to divorce than those who do not. Couples who share a religious affiliation reap the most benefits.
• Unhealthy personality traits – People who find their self-worth in relationships are statistically more likely to grow unhappy in their marriages over time.
Overall, individuals who enter a marriage before maturing as an adult, without a financial cushion, and without having an ingrained sense that marriage is a life-long commitment, are less likely to work out their differences. If you fall into one or more of these risk categories, take stock and examine how they may be affecting your relationship.
Overall, married people are happier and healthier than their single counterparts. A successful marriage takes work but it is work with great rewards.