It has become more evident over the years that divorce is seldom” the answer” to marital problems. Unfortunately many people are unaware of the fact that divorce usually creates many more problems than it eliminates (e.g. logistical, financial, and child related issues).
It is all too easy to blame the relationship or our partner for personal discontent and dissatisfaction that lies within us and not in our marriage. Only very short term relief (and sometimes no relief at all) is provided by seeking a divorce. These problems usually move forward, unresolved, to the next chapter in our lives with or without a spouse or partner. Some prime examples of these types of problems are poor communication skills, inadequate conflict management ability, the tendency to blame others for our own faults, poor parenting skills, personality flaws, the tendency to overly criticize or try to control those around us, and historical emotional predispositions that plague us in our current life and make us prone to such things as infidelity, failed marriages, poor parent-child relationships, etc. In general relationships tend to keep personal issues in focus and provide countless opportunities for personal growth and healing.
Recent research has indicated:
- In a healthy relationship most marital problems are either solvable or able to be accommodated and adjusted for.
- Individuals who pursue divorce are no happier in five years time than those who remain in unhappy marriages. In other words, divorce does not usually solve anything. It changes the scenario and the “players,” but not necessarily the initial themes and issues.
There are some notable exceptions to the rule of thumb that divorce doesn’t help the real problems and these include:
- Any domestic violence, mental illness, or addictions that are severe and remain untreated.
- Emotional abuse or lack of safety that threatens one’s safety or sense of self.
So when divorce seems imminent and you suspect that it is really not going to provide long-term happiness what can you do?
- Look at what changes you yourself can make that will change things in the marriage.
- Create a support system of people who believe that working on a marriage is a good idea. (i.e. avoid people who encourage negative thinking about relationships or are pro-divorce or who will say negative things about your spouse.)
- Get a therapist who is pro-marriage; if you’re unsure, ask them directly.
- Try to get your spouse to join you in the counseling sessions.
- Go to your church or synagogue and avail yourself of any help they may have there.
- Read books on saving marriages. Some good ones are:
I. Divorce Busting — Michele Weiner Davis
II. His Needs, Her Needs — Willard Harley
III. Relationship Rescue — Phillip McGraw
IV. Divorce Remedy — Michele Weiner Davis
V. The Truth About Love — Pat Love
VI. Hot Monogamy — Pat Love
VII. The Seven Principles of Making Marriages Work — John Gottman
VIII. Getting the Love You Want — Harville Hendrix
IX. The Sex-Starved Marriage — Michele Weiner Davis
X. The Solo Partner- Repairing Your Relationship On Your Own —Phil DeLuca
There are many, many more. Pick one or two that are appealing to you and, therefore, easy and motivating to read. Ask your spouse to read also and discuss the topics together. If too much conflict is present you will need a therapist to help with communication and constructive expression of disagreement and anger.