Warning Signs on the Road to Divorce

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Warning Signs on the Road to Divorce

A marriage is like a car. If you invest time and effort into it, show it the proper affection, listen to it when you hear a problem and honestly try to fix it, you’ll have a great one that will last. But if you ignore the warning signs you’ll be sitting in the passenger seat of a tow truck on the road to couple’s therapy, separation or even divorce before you know it.

Most people get married without the slightest notion of what it takes to sustain a marriage and what the indicators of divorce are. Here are some warning signs. Do some soul searching and see if you or your relationship is suffering from one of these. Have you ever dreamt of life without your spouse? Once in a while is one thing. But if you find yourself doing it more often than not, it’s time to seek out couple’s counseling or marriage therapy. Talk to your spouse about it. It won’t be a nice conversation. But if you love them you owe it to them, and yourself to let them know how you feel. Ask if they’ve been feeling the same way. What issues or problems are you two not addressing that is contributing to this phenomenon? What solutions can be posited to solve them?

Our next warning sign is when bad things about a marriage overwhelm the good things. When couples have issues that go unaddressed, they don’t just go away. They fester under the surface until they become an enormous problem. Or they may surface as a conveyor belt of problems until you are both exhausted. Instead, find ways to nip problems in the bud, or counteract them before they occur. Don’t let them fester too long or perhaps it will be too late to fix them. Remember that communication is not only a way to make a connection. It helps soothe us when we’re stressed and bonds us to our partner. If you hold back on sharing your thoughts or feelings, for fear of retaliation or physical or verbal abuse, you are not in a good relationship. You need to extricate yourself.

Does one of you get overly defensive when a certain subject or issue is brought up? If your spouse does this, it may be the very issue you need to address. It may also mean the problem might have reached a fever pitch. If you or your spouse clams up, dismisses needs of the other or criticizes one another’s values these are signs that the relationship is in serious trouble. Do you feel all alone in solving the marriages problems? Seek counseling because this is the canary in the coal mine for your marriage. For more advice read, Marriage Help: How I Fixed My Marriage and Fell in Love All over Again by Corine Channell.

Things Divorce Teaches You about Marriage

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Things Divorce Teaches You about Marriage

A divorce can be devastating. It’s one of those pains that you don’t really understand unless you’ve been through it. Not only does it cause tremendous upheaval in your life, it alters how you view yourself and romantic relationships. Some people swear off marriage wholeheartedly, while others jump into the next one as if their last had nothing to teach them. But most of us reflect on the state of marriage and relationships at this time. If a split is anything it’s a great teacher. Here are some things divorce teaches you about marriage. First, marriages are always different for those living them than how they are viewed from the outside. Sometimes when someone gets divorced, others are shocked, thinking they had the perfect marriage. Issues that seem reconcilable to some are end games to others. But some people somehow find a way to make it work. Everyone’s marriage is a bit messy, much like human life, though they may seem picture perfect from where you stand. If we could just break down the walls and talk about what marriage is really like, instead of putting on airs, perhaps we could make everyone’s better.

Another problem leading to divorce is a sexless marriage. Make time to be physical together. Statistics show that 20% of marriages today are sexless. But becoming physically intimate is a way for both people to bond. Being in a sexless marriage itself may be a big warning sign that things aren’t going well for one or both parties. Of course men tend to compartmentalize. With women, if things aren’t going well in the relationship, goings-on in the bedroom suffer. That’s because to a woman the emotional intimacy in the relationship is what’s most important. Though this may be important for a man, most men are more driven by libido. A failed marriage makes us look at other marriages in a new way. What are others really struggling with and how do they make it work? Communication is always crucial. But so is negotiation, not holding grudges, clearing the air and coming to a deep understanding of one another. We also need to accept the flaws in ourselves and our spouse for what they are. Recognition is one thing, acceptance another. One of the common causes of divorce is infidelity. Some people are shocked when they find that their husband or wife was cheating. A person may be an incredible breadwinner, an expert parent, a phenomenal homemaker and still have a spouse who cheats. The reason people go astray is they are trying to heal something wrong inside the relationship through outside means.

One of the problems with modern marriage that experts often point out is that we expect our spouse to take up all of the roles that traditionally an entire village provided. We want them to be our mentor, coach, partner, lover, confidante, best friend, co-parent and more. Find some of these needs outside your relationship if you can, and take some pressure off of your spouse. Spending some time with friends or close family members and becoming more well-rounded people by spending time at one’s favorite pursuits can help replenish each person and the marriage as well. But tenaciously clinging to one’s partner can bring the whole thing down. It’s best when both people are totally fulfilled, realized people who choose to go through life together. Marriage isn’t easy. But for most Americans, they see little alternative. We’ve been called serial monogamists and perhaps it still fits, at least if you are of a certain generation. Statistically, second marriages are less likely to last. Some say the third one is a charm. Be that as it may, don’t wallow in a failed marriage, learn from it and make your next relationship the romance of a lifetime. For more pick up a copy of, Learning From Divorce: How to Take Responsibility, Stop the Blame, and Move On by Robert LaCrosse and Christine A. Coates.

Can we save our Marriage?

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Can we save our Marriage?

This is the number one question couples in marriage counseling ask the therapist. People never know when a relationship is salvageable and when to go their separate ways. There are many people who focus more on getting out of a bad relationship, than on making the one they have worthwhile. Focusing so much on getting out can make you ignore the positive qualities the marriage has. When the focus for one person is a breakup, their preoccupation may inadvertently be the thing driving the couple toward divorce. On the other hand, one should be cognizant that every marriage has its ups and downs. Every relationship has the potential to end. There are of course certain steps you can take to bring a relationship down from the ledge. But a better strategy is to form a deep emotional connection to one another. This will motivate you to work your problems out and build a stronger, happier marriage.  Practicing generosity, kindness, compassion, respect and honesty, mutually, will make the marriage far more fulfilling. When each person is fulfilled, divorce becomes the furthest thing from their minds. Sometimes though, there are significant forces working on a couple, making happy reunification unlikely.

Certainly not all marriages can be saved, or should be. There are lots of unhealthy behaviors that can inhabit a marriage; addiction with no willingness to seek treatment, chronic lying, serial infidelity, neglect, abusive behavior, whether physical or psychological, and much more. These are violations to the commitment you both share within the bond of matrimony. Doing these things violates the sanctimonious vow you gave to one another on your wedding day. The most important thing is whether or not both parties have a willingness to admit what has gone wrong, and work toward solving the issues that they have. Mere acknowledgment of the problem is not enough. If there is no willingness on the part of both parties to change behavior, there may be no reason to move forward with the relationship at all. Destructive patterns played out over and over again, without any hope of relief, is a recipe for divorce. Recognizing these patterns and the role each party plays in them is the first step. But trying different strategies when the problems arise, and varying those strategies depending upon the situation are also key. It’s important to remember not to get discouraged if things don’t work out just the way you planned. It may need some tweaking. If you love your spouse and are committed to the marriage, and they feel the same way, then everything you need is there to make it happen, and make things work.

There is no easy answer for knowing when to stay together and when to move apart. Each situation is dependent upon the individuals, what has happened between them, what they value and how they look at things. Perception is invariably important. Circumstances for one couple that would be deal breakers to another merely have to be negotiated. There are a few simple guidelines you can follow to have the best possible outcome. One of the things to keep in mind is that working through the problems of a shaky marriage can be painful, sometimes even excruciating. For those who don’t have the ability to tolerate this sort of pain, the impulse to end the relationship, or manipulate their spouse into filing for divorce, can be strong. Marriages that are in trouble are often helped through counseling. There are lots of situations in marriage that are difficult to maneuver. It is good to know when you and your spouse are in over your heads.  Each person should develop the inner qualities on their own that will help make this marriage work. You can be your own psychologist and develop your own inner workings in order to be more honest, compassionate, engaged and loving. When you give something your best, there is always the risk that it might not work. Evaluate the emotional level you are both at. Have a long, calm discussion. Give it a shot. If it doesn’t work, at least you tried. But you two may just come out stronger, and more loving in the end due to this time when you struggled together. For more help finding marital bliss pick up a copy of, Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truths from Real Couples About Lasting Love by Linda Bloom, L.C.S.W. and Charlie Bloom, M.S.W.

How the Different Genders’ outlook on Sex Affect a Marriage

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How the Different Genders’ outlook on Sex Affect a Marriage

One of the things long-term couples fight about is sex. Men generally want sex no matter what stage the relationship is in. Meanwhile, women see it as the end result of a healthy relationship. Therefore men still expect to have sex when the relationship is rocky, while women prefer to abstain because emotionally, they don’t feel like it is the right thing to do. Men sometimes see this as not fighting fairly. To a man, the two things, emotional well-being and sex, can be compartmentalized. To a woman, however, they cannot. As physical intimacy declines so does emotional intimacy. A vicious cycle occurs. The husband may confront the wife about “withholding” sex, saying it is unfair. At this point the wife, who thinks he only cares about sex, may regress even further. At this point the husband too may pull away, resentful of the wife. Here the two sides interpret sex differently. But instead of reaching out and discussing or discovering how the other interprets it, the miscommunication creates resentment which further widens the rift between the two. The emotional problems in the relationship may be glaringly obvious to the woman but not to the man. These rolls can be reversed too. Certainly there is a husband out there right now withholding sex due to a wife’s negligence or transgression.

Famed marriage researcher Pepper Schwartz however says this is the most common type of sexless marriage, where the woman feels hurt or emotionally detached and the man disgruntled about the lack of sex in the relationship. In this situation she says “there’s a lot of anger and two people who simply don’t know how to change their behavior.” The husband feels victimized. He may disappear into his “man-cave,” local sports bar, golf club or other such hangout. He may believe that all marriages are meant to end up like this, two mild adversaries living side by side. Due to his alienation from his wife, he feels no responsibility to what has transpired. The wife however believes that he should own up, open up, and apologize for what he’s done wrong so they can move on. But he feels he hasn’t done anything wrong so the cycle continues. In this scenario both parties are aggrieved while each blaming the other. Both feel disillusioned about their partner and perhaps even the institution of marriage itself. Each feels resentful and angry. Yet to bridge the gap it often takes patience and openness to see why the other party is aggrieved. It also takes the ability of one to analyze the past and see where things went wrong, and to see their own contribution to the conflagration. Once we can recognize where we ourselves went wrong we can address our partner in a new way. It takes two. No one person had hurt this marriage in and of themselves.

When a couple hits rock bottom, it’s often time to work through their problems with the aid of outside help. Generally either they seek out marriage counseling, live two separate lives side-by-side or one party files for divorce. This type of marriage is also ripe for infidelity, which could be a wake-up call. But more often than not it causes the end of the relationship or at the very least a worsening of relations. Luckily there are 12-step programs for codependency, psychological services, marriage counseling, faith-based services and so much more. To preserve intimacy and joy in your marriage, look to the positive contributions your mate brings. Come to understand and accept who they are, faults and all. Do the same for yourself. Think about what is important to you in a marriage and stick to and preserve it. Learn to let the other, lesser things go. Spend time relaxing together, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes a day. Take part in adventures together. Do things for the two of you, just as a couple. Forgive. Don’t hold a grudge. Write little notes to one another. Tell jokes. Make each other a nice hot cup of something. Always remember to fight fairly. Talk things out no matter how long it takes. Always try to see where your partner is coming from. Choose to work at it and you can keep your marriage abundant and bountiful with love. For more on this topic, pick up a copy of the book, The Busy Couple’s Guide to Everyday Romance: Fun and Easy Ways to Keep the Spark Alive by Editha Rodriguez.

The Most Expensive Weddings Lead to the Shortest Marriages

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The Most Expensive Weddings Lead to the Shortest Marriages

The price on weddings has risen significantly in recent years. So-called “normal” couples today incorporate detailed websites, photo booths and giant ice sculptures into their marriages, and even throw weekend-long events. The industry likes to marry the idea of love and commitment with how much is spent. But although most of us scour the plan looking for ways of saving a few dollars, some wish money was no object. They secretly drool over celebrity-style affairs in exotic locales, taking place in lavish venues where so many luxuries abound their guests’ heads spin. We dream of becoming a part of what looks like modern day royalty. But be careful what you wish for. All of that style may be hiding a lack of substance, according to a study out of Emory University. You would think those who shell out the most mean it the most. But this study found the opposite to be true. The most expensive weddings lead to the shortest marriages. Two economics professors came to this conclusion. They also found that the higher the price-tag for the engagement ring, the greater the likelihood of divorce.

3,000 participants, married only one time, took part in this study. They found that those men who spent $500 to $2,000 were 1.3 times less likely to get divorced than those who spent $2,000 and $4,000. Those who spent $5,000 to $10,000 on the wedding were 3.5 times less likely to get divorced than those who shelled out over $20,000. In an email to Big Think researchers wrote, “Advertising has fueled the norm that spending large amounts on the engagement ring and wedding is an indication of commitment or is helpful for a marriage to be successful.” Though they’ve found a correlation, determining causation is far trickier. The economists surmise that such a big event inflates the expectations of the marriage. The couple is enchanted into the notion that things are going to be easy from here on out. Both parties have unrealistic expectations which undermine reconciliation when the couple hits a stumbling block. Those who have a more moderately priced affair have a level-headed view and so are ready when the inevitable difficulties arise.

No matter how much you plunk down for your wedding, there are some qualities that can be sustained by both parties to give the marriage the best chance of success. The first is to focus on the positive rather than the negative. There are little things that will inevitably drive you crazy. But if you can remember how supportive and understanding they are, you can perhaps overlook the hair they leave in the shower drain or that they are never once on-time. Invest in your relationship. This could be time, energy or thoughtfulness. But you get out of a marriage what you put into it. Communicate clearly and make sure you understand what your spouse has said or is saying. Lots of fights boil down to miscommunication. Fight smart. If you hurt your partner but win the argument, have you really won? Learn to let the little things go. And find ways to increase your closeness and strengthen your bond. For more on how to achieve marital success read, Strong Marriage, Happy Life: The Core Principles of a Successful Marriage and How to Make Your Marriage Work by Sonya Dawson.