The Divorce Myth – Redate Your Mate Before Too Late

Recently I read a wonderful article in Boomer Plugged In, an online magazine for and about baby boomers. But this article applies to everyone, at any age. Many of the couples I see in counseling or that I meet at events and elsewhere are struggling to stay connected. Often each one feels secretly that they somehow got the raw end of the deal and that there is probably somebody out there much more suited to their emotional, physical and romantic needs. Shela Dean corroborates what I have been saying for a long time. Love heals. But we have to focus our love in the right direction.

Here is an excerpt from this article with a unique twist about marriage and divorce.

 

The Divorce Myth by Guest Blogger Shela Dean

The findings of a 2002 study by the Institute for American Values showed that (1) divorce does not typically make adults happier than staying in an unhappy marriage, and (b) 66% of unhappily married adults who avoided divorce were happily married five years later whether the marriage was of middling quality or had serious problems. Only 20% had divorced and happily remarried in the same time period. In short, you’re more likely to end up happily married to the spouse you have than if you divorce.

Read more   Divorce Myths

22 thoughts on “The Divorce Myth – Redate Your Mate Before Too Late

  1. As a boomer myself I have noticed a big change towards divorce in my lifetime (yes, I have been divorced). I can remember that my parents used to talk about someone getting divorced in very unfavorable terms. The word “divorcee” was used in a manner very derogatory to the person being discussed.

    Parents often used to stay together because of the children and I think that that is a very good reason. After all it is them that suffer most often.

    Is the grass greener on the other side? My feeling from people that I have known id that it seldom is and this seems to be confirmed by the research in the article.

    • Trevor,
      Sometimes a marital situation is so bad that the only solution is to escape. But often the emotions are running high because both have triggered each other’s wounds and unresolved childhood issues. With some counseling and some personal inner work, that kind of relation can sometimes be totally turned around into a loving and intimate communication style.

      Dr. Erica

    • It is an interesting subject. I would agree with Trevor’s view of ‘the grass is greener on the other side’. What a person must remember is that they take themselves with them where ever they go or with whomever they live with!

      It requires a certain amount of mindfulness and conscious effort to get clear on why their relationship did not work. From this knowledge there is an opportunity to learn and to grow and to set intentions of what they do want in a relationship and the person they need to be in order to attract these attributes.

      I also agree with Erica that we all grow up within different environments which can be detrimental to a child’s wellbeing. These limited beliefs need to be challenged if we are to have any chance of making them small enough that they do not hold us back anymore.

      Here’s my wish – that I knew myself better in my marriage – now I am on my own I am very clear of who I am, where my values are and what has held me back. Had I had all of this knowledge when I was making decisions on my ‘life partner’ I would never have chosen them.

      Thank you for the post Erica

      • Michelle,

        Thank you for your very thoughtful comment. As my uncle used to say, “We grow too soon oldt and too late shmart!” If we know our own self, our needs, values, desires, dreams and we honor our own well being and our own self worth, our choice for a life partner would be very different from just choosing someone we feel attracted to and letting it run its course without the inner work required.

        Learning to love is an ongoing process.

        Warmly,

        Dr. Erica

  2. I can honestly say there is only one couple I personally know that has never divorced – my sister – and they’ve been married for 30 years now. I’m happy for her, but I look around at everyone else and the statistics are not good. What’s even more telling is I’m seeing far fewer people jumping into multiple marriages – instead there’s an increase in swaring off marriage all together. In fact, the other day I read an article about a place (outside the US) where they’re selling 2 year marriage licenses. If it works out, you can renew at the end of the term – if not, the couple go their separate ways without having to deal with all the usual divorce hassles. Now THAT’s something to think about!

    • Marquita,

      That’s an interesting concept, a 2 year marriage contract. Of course it can get messy if children are involved. There is also a term called “Starter Marriages” like a Starter Home. You get married, learn what it is like to be married, and then divorce and maybe later find a lasting partner.

      Problem is, marriage brings up childhood issues, our fears and insecurities. We can’t hide behind a mask or an image. We are revealed to each other and many people don’t want that to happen.

      Warmly,

      Dr. Erica

  3. Erica,

    It took me 2 and a half tries to get it right. And, Marty is right, I can think of a single couple my age who have not been divorced.

    As a young man I didn’t possess the tools to agree to disagree. I believe had I the tools in my first marriage that I possess now there’s a good chance the marriage could have lasted. Any two people who meet the age requirements can apply for a marriage license and procreate the species. (Actually you don’t need the license to procreate, do you?) Divorce is certainly not the answer when children are involved. They are so hard to put back.

    RICK

    • Rick,

      The system is not set up to help people create successful marriages. We can easily get a marriage license, without any counseling or awareness of what we are really getting into. In some states, it is also very easy to get a divorce, unless there is a lot of conflict over child custody and support.

      What would it be like if we had training in how to communicate, how to choose a partner that is good for us, and how to handle the differences, conflicts and hard times together? Many people divorce, thinking there is something better out there, and they may have been able to get past whatever drove them apart. Of course, there are some situations that really do require splitting up for the health and well being of one or both.

      Warmly,

      Dr. Erica

  4. Hi Dr Erica, Those are very interesting statistics. It seems many people think the grass is greener on the other side. I recently came across a quote: “Often we change jobs, friends and spouses instead of ourselves.” ~Arkbarali Jetha
    Good marriages take some effort. You can’t leave it alone and ignore the relationship and expect it to blossom.
    Thank you for the gentle reminder to appreciate the blessing of a good marriage.
    Bless You!
    Lynn

    • Lynn,
      I love that quote. It is so much easier to focus on getting out of a difficult relationship than to unravel the issues that are making it currently difficult. Often, with counseling and self-reflection, a change in perspective and attitude, and a renewed commitment to creating love, that same relationship can blossum into something beautiful. It only take one person to begin the process. We tend to think that it requires both but often, it is one person who begins the process of self-healing and that affects the partner to begin to become interested in healing.

      Warmly,

      Dr. Erica

  5. Hey Dr Erica,
    I am a true believer in getting away and letting go of anything that is holding you back or keeping you down. on the other hand I feel like why be in a relationship if you are not going to try, just do not start one. When I feel that I am ready for another go, I am old enough and wise enough to know a happy wife, a happy life. Not making it all about her, but letting her know that I am all about her. Ihave found that it easy to aa lady to fall in love , but it is hard to get them to fall back in love once you have made them fall out of love. I saying this so I can lead up to my question, “How do you think those couples get pass the past?” Once the damage is done then it is no longer fun. TTYL

    • Marcus,
      What a great question. How do couples get past the past, the hurt, pain and sometimes downright betrayal?

      My immediate response is that it is not easy. The only way out is through, meaning, each of you has to feel the pain, feel what it is like to be apart perhaps through a separation, discover and focus on your own part in creating and sustaining the problems, and then both get counseling/professional help individually and together.

      Yes, there will be a period of painful emotions, regrets, accusations, anger and more. But if you both do the work, inner work, communication work, sharing and re-dating each other, there IS hope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

      If you just give up, let go of the relationship and move on, very often you find someone different, start out with passion, desire and wonderful feelings and then eventually hit another roadblock. The problems may appear to be different. You may think to yourself, “Oh, no. I have chosen another problem partner.” But the truth is, the partner is usually a mirror for yourself to get to know and examine your own self.

      Warmly,

      Dr. Erica

      • “Oh, no. I have chosen another problem partner.” But the truth is, the partner is usually a mirror for yourself to get to know and examine your own self. I love that line, so true ( law of atraction)

        I have found that people leave each other not because they do not love that person, they just are not in love with that person. The one thing that a person will measure “being in love” by the fun feeling that they have inside. This is tied to laughing, eye contact, the disire to see each other, and the feeling of being wanted. This is a base connection on a emotionally physical state of being. Unlike the older relationship that over time turned into more like a business of taking care of the family and house hold.

        This is more of a physically financial, or going through the motions to maintain a on going lifestyle. Some where along the way the fun, deep, and lustful emotions were replace with stability. So my question is how do you think the older relationship can get back to and compeat with newer relationship. Which are more fun and not reponsiblity base, I know this as to be with being mature and not just chansing desire. At the same time people work at work, they do not want to work at home.

        So how can an older relationship, go back to that newer feeling, when the present is always there and their relationship is no longer an escape from the world and their daily life. TTYL

  6. I have never been married so I never had to personally deal with divorce. However, my parents divorced when I was in my mid twenties. It was devasting for the family but the wierd things was my parents stayed in contact and even spent time together around the holidays. Go figure.

    • Joyce,
      What your parents experienced is not unusual. Many couples have a big struggle being together. Intimate, committed and ongoing relationships bring up our childhood fears and insecurities and unmet needs. It can be a huge challenge to stay together and be forced to face these issues and maybe make changes. But after divorce, that obligation is no longer there. That’s when two people that do feel love for each other can enjoy the other person without those “commitment” and “marital” expectations.

      Warmly,

      Dr. Erica

  7. Good advice, Dr. Erica.

    Of course, there are exceptions, but far too often people divorce simply because they encounter obstacles. Most of those “obstacles” result from failing to communicate our true feelings. When we harbor resentment, envy, jealousy, whatever, we seriously jeopardize our relationship.

    I’d suggest, before jumping to divorce because you think it’s an easy way out… try sincerely to rekindle communications… it may not be easy, but nothing worthwhile is.

    After all, how far do we get in internet marketing or an MLM business if we drop it for something else the second we run up against hard times, confusion, financial difficulty and any number of other common obstacles?

    • David,
      You provided an excellent analogy. To succeed in business, we need to persist and not to quit until we have really pursued what is possible. Relationships work the same way. Commitment, persistence, discovery and communication are key.

      Warmly,

      Dr. Erica

  8. Hello Dr. Erica,

    This is a lovely topic for a post… my husband and I have date nights and weekends away, I agree with you it is important to keep renewing in a relationship;- if that would be the correct word to use?

    Like Trevor I have seen attitude to divorce change too during my life time. I am 43 these days and when I was a child it was not something which I was privy. Both people of my grand parents generation and in my social circle none of my friends had parents who were either divorce or separated. These days that is not the case, even her in France when most people are Catholic and divorce is not an accepted option people divorce and separate much more frequently than in years gone by.

    I have to say though in times gone by many women did not work outside of the home, they traditionally took care of the house and the family. To this end many marriages I’m sure were glued by the fact the woman was not in a position to leave her husband even if he behaved like a monster towards her. In such circumstances independent women can at least vote with their feet these days and not have to stay unhappily married under duress.

    • Sadie-Michaela,

      It is not only men who suffer in unhappy marriages and it is often not about money. Even when both people have adequate finances, they can be really afraid to leave what they know, even if very painful, to put themself out into the world unattached. So there are many people that “live lives of quiet desperation.”

      Many of those unhappy marriages could be transformed if just one person became more clear about loving self and loving the other person. Taking a stand for yourself, responding strongly but with love and acceptance and being willing to leave rather than just give in and compromise your self.

      You are adding the romance and the dating to your marriage which is also so very important. Thanks for sharing so openly.

      Warmly,

      Dr. Erica

  9. Hello Erica

    My wife and I have been married for 50 years not because we are perfect. Our marriage began with a commitment and has continued with a commitment. The commitment has required action from both of us. Your suggestion Re-date Your Mate Before Too Late is a golden nugget. what has helped me personally is understanding that the only person in the marriage that I could change was myself.

    Thanks

    Perry A Davis Jr
    Music City

    • Wow Perry, 50 years. You could certainly teach others what it takes to stay together and create a satisfying relationship. It sometimes requires what is known as “grit.” There are times when we all feel like just giving up and quitting (a marriage, a relationship, a career, even a hobby). But when we stick to it, continue to study and learn and improve our own skills and understandings, we can often get past the difficult times and later reap some real rewards.

      Warmly,

      Dr. Erica

  10. Dr. Erica,

    You said in one of your comments: “What would it be like if we had training in how to communicate, how to choose a partner that is good for us, and how to handle the differences, conflicts and hard times together? Many people divorce, thinking there is something better out there, and they may have been able to get past whatever drove them apart.”

    That quote right there is one of the keys to preventing divorce. #1 we need to learn to be able to communicate and to disagree civilly. and #2 thinking there is something better out there is SELDOM the answer! Very seldom. People have “baggage” and character flaws and personality quirks. But they are jumbled differently with a different combination and permutation of faults in each person. So when you look for that partner without your husband’s “baggage” and character flaws or weaknesses, you find one. Problem is — the new husband has a completely different set of faults you now need to learn to deal with. (same goes for trying to find a “better, more perfect” wife) Unfortunately, in today’s society, when the marriage isn’t so much fun anymore the answer is always the same: “Let’s get a divorce!” And they do.

    It is in Mexico where they are doing the two-year marriage contracts. Great idea if kids were not involved. Before I got excited about that idea, I would like to know what happens to the children that have been created as a result of that two-year marriage that doesn’t get renewed.

    — Jupiter Jim

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