Are You at Risk of an Unnecessary Divorce?
The Secret Relationship Killer You Need to Know About
© 2022 Health Realizations, Inc. Update
Upon taking the vows of marriage, most all couples believe their relationship will withstand the test of time. In reality, about 40-45 percent of all marriages will end in divorce, according to an Associated Press estimate.
Why is it that so many marriages end in divorce? The reasons are often complex and varied, including:
Yet, ironically, love, or lack of it, is often not on that list at all. And many couples still love each other when they decide to get divorced.
The reason this is has to do with hidden mental and emotional drivers that even most psychologists don’t tell you about, or are unaware of themselves.
Certainty Vs. Uncertainty: The Hidden Cause of Many Divorces
When we have great "certainty" there is an urge for most of us to seek "uncertainty." In the case of marriage, your “certainty” quotient is filled; your relationship steady and secure.
Yet, for many of us this potentially good feeling turns into boredom and staleness, and invokes a sense of not being fully alive or excited any longer. This then drives us to seek the other end of the spectrum, or look for “uncertainty.”
By seeking uncertainty, we are looking to fulfill that unmet need for excitement, which may include:
Thinking or fantasizing about cheating on your spouse
Immersing yourself in new hobbies that don’t involve your spouse
Changing your attitudes or interests to invoke more excitement in your life
All of these factors have the potential to wreck a marriage, but they need not.
Why? Because when you realize the dynamics of certainty vs. uncertainty -- and the fact that we often seek out that which we do not have -- you can take steps to remedy the situation before you engage in an activity that harms your marriage.
To put it another way, when we have great certainty we’re willing to take greater risks in order to achieve a certain level of uncertainty (such as having an affair), but if we are living with great uncertainty suddenly even the smallest of risks seems like too much.
The bottom line is that if you decide to cross that line and go back to living in uncertainty, suddenly you will likely start longing again for the certainty you once had.
The solution is to acknowledge that you may be seeking out that which you do not have, and instead learn to embrace the present moment, including your marriage, and savor it exactly as it is now.
How to Live in the Moment and Make Your Marriage Last
To start enjoying your life, and your relationship, right now, first focus on living in the present, feeling neither regret for past events nor fear or anxiety about the future.
Next, choose to have a positive attitude about your marriage. You control how you view your situation and whether you perceive it negatively or positively. So if negative thoughts enter your mind, do not give them any attention. Instead, focus on the many good things in your life and relationship and be grateful for what you have, especially the things you may take for granted about your spouse.
Of course, in order for any marriage to succeed, both partners must be willing to put in the effort needed to keep things fresh, fair and fulfilling. So if you hit a snag along the way, and most people do, the following tips from respected marriage researcher Dr. John Gottman, author of "The Relationship Cure", can help to keep your marriage strong … and help you avoid an unnecessary divorce, along with some of the things our SixWise founder has found to be successful.
If you're having problems, seek help right away. The average couple waits six years before seeking marital counseling, according to Gottman, which means they're living unhappily for far too long.
Keep critical things to yourself. "Editing yourself" sometimes is a key secret of happy couples.
Talk about your problems, but do so gently and without blame. Starting a discussion with criticism or accusation is a surefire way to escalate the conflict.
Men, accept influence from your wife. According to Gottman, a marriage can only be successful if a man can listen to and is willing to be influenced by his wife. Why? Studies show that most women easily accept influence from men, so a "true partnership" can only be formed if the man can also do this.
Don't accept hurtful behavior. Having high standards of how you expect to be treated helps couples stay happy in the long run. Listen to your partner’s issues, concerns and challenges taking responsibility for your actions. When having made a mistake stating what you should have done and will do in the future neutralizes most issues.
- Don't let arguments get out of control:
- Consider agreeing in the good times to always hold hands softly and tenderly while discussing any point or issue, even during arguments. This keeps most people positively connected and keeps them from raising their voices or tempers.
Note: If there is physical abuse that does not make this possible then you may need to consider getting professional help right away.
The happiest couples are those who can repair an argument by:
Seeking to understanding your partner’s perspective
Not trying to control your partner but rather respecting and empowering them by allowing them to be heard
Allowing them to be who they are and loving them more for all their unique differences than even their similarities to your strengths. Accepting those things you might see differently --including things you might not completely agree with -- makes it more likely you’ll be blessed with appreciation and respect for one another for many decades to come.
“Loving one’s spouse more for their weaknesses than their strengths is difficult, but an effort that displaces most annoyances and frivolous frustrations that otherwise build and escalate. This I learned from my Mother,” says John Longstreet Dearlove SixWise CEO. “Make a fresh start every day renewing your relationship in respectful loving ways.”
Share your gratitude for other’s differences. If you do things or see things differently then consider the possibility that this might just be what brought you two together. Don’t allow what brought you together to break you apart due to disrespecting each other’s different strengths. One’s strengths often complements the other’s weaknesses, so complement and express appreciation for those strengths your partner supports you with and ask them to do so with you when you support them with your strengths.
Focus first on the positive. Begin any topic or constructive criticism by first stating a positive meaningful complement or comment about your partner or partner's related behavior or strengths before sharing your issue(s). And have a positive statement to end on. This places them in a more open-minded state and gives a sense of being appreciated vs. being attacked.
Openly address the topics raised and / or identify and address the underlying issues as they surface, saying something caring plus state and demonstrate how you will contribute to making the relationship stronger.
Share and try to look at the humorous side in ways that are positive and supportive of each other (not demeaning humor at the expense of the other) to calm matters down.
Let it go (by backing down, showing understanding or letting your partner know that you're in it together).
Admitting to being wrong might be worth more to you than being right and alone without the person you love.
Stay together by saying positive loving things about the other to others and to each other.
“Couples in happy marriages make at least five times as many positive statements about their relationship than negative ones -- even while talking about a problem,” according to Gottman.
The Gottman Institute