Nobody gets married thinking they are going to want a divorce later. Yet almost 50 percent of married couples end up considering a split and the rate of divorce has more than doubled in 40 years.
But just because you’re thinking about it, doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. How can you tell if you should call it quits or if your marriage can be saved?
Sometimes a marriage can come back from the brink of divorce. But only if both spouses are willing to put in the sweat and tears that it will take to repair any damage and reach a resolution. Marriage counseling has been helpful to millions and saved countless unions, but both partners need to be on board for it to be productive.
Naturally, whether or not a marriage can be redeemed depends on the conflict between the husband and wife and/or the reasons why it is failing. But like with most things, there are some common threads:
• NO PRESSURE, NOW — Almost always, the common thread for unhappy spouses are unmet expectations. You are shooting yourself in the foot if you set unrealistic expectations for your partner and even for yourself. If you do or already have, be willing to adjust those expectations. They don’t call it the “honeymoon stage” for nothing. As a marriage matures, so do people. Things change and personalities evolve. There will be “good times and bad times” and sickness and health.
• COMMUNICATION IS KEY — A wise man once said marriage is one part commitment and three parts communication skills. This means more than the ability to speak. Most important in a marriage is the ability to listen and to understand your spouse’s point of view on issues even when you disagree with or, worse, dislike their perspective. Good communication in a marriage means being able to not only speak the truth, but hear the truth, which can be more difficult to do. If a marriage is going to be saved, both partners must feel safe to freely say whatever they feel they must say without the fear that it will be held against them.
• LEARN TO COMPROMISE — If you really want to save your marriage, that means that your spouse is still important to you. So it should be easy to make adjustments and compromises to keep the peace. “This is usually harder than it sounds,” says psychologist Dr. Jerome Poliacoff. “People instinctively find a need to defend themselves – their positions, their answers, their values – when confronted with an opposing view or thought. But, think about it this way: Is it more important to be right about where the remote garage door opener was or is it more important to save your marriage? Sometimes you have to learn to let things go.”
• STAND BY ME — Conversely, you must know when to hang on. A marriage is probably the most important commitment one makes in life and that means that you don’t run for the woods at the first sign of trouble. Or the second. Or the third, even.
“Divorce is not such a bad thing when it really is the resolution of a marriage that needs to end because everything else has been tried,” Poliacoff says.
If you both are committed to make it work, willing to compromise, able to adjust your expectations, and if you can each promise to speak freely and really, truly listen to what your spouse has to say, your marriage just might make it.
Carlos Blanco founded The Big Kaboom <www.thebigkaboom.com>, which combines people, technology and social elements to support clients throughout their divorce process. Contact him by calling 305-908-1171 or by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org.