The constant bickering in the middle of the night, the inability to express unhappiness, mounting financial woes, and lack of trust are just some of the things that can seriously weaken a marriage. Over time, a mental gap or emotional brick wall forms between two couples and before they know it â€“ they are heading to divorce court, fighting over who gets the house, car, boat, and kids.
In every marriage, there is a crossroads where communication, understanding, and a little guidance could have led a once-happy couple onto the path of relationship repair. Learning how to prevent divorce before the gears of unhappiness begin to turn is a good way to save a marriage. Unfortunately, you’re working against pretty heavy odds, as it is said that more than 40% of all marriages end in divorce.
What is a Divorce?
Divorce is the dissolution of a marriage before couples get a chance to honor, “until death do us part.” The end of a marriage is not always a simple process to undergo. Depending on the amount of time a couple has spent married, a divorce could simply involve the mutual agreement to end their union by signing the proper paperwork, while others enter long, painful battles in court. A host of legal ramifications accompany a divorce that leads to conflict over spousal support or alimony, custody of children, child support, and the distribution of property and personal assets .
The Negative Effects of a Divorce
When it comes to divorce, an assortment of emotional and financial aspects take place, which are especially hard when the union spans many years or involves children. Emotionally, a divorce is one of the most traumatic and life-changing times that can occur in a person’s life. Usually, depending on the situation, one or more of the parties involved are filled with great sadness, anger, guilt, depression, anxiety, vengeance, fear of the unknown, and many more influential emotions.
It is quite rare that a divorce (especially in the United States) is a mutual and conflict-free event. Some divorces become intensely combative, where once happily married individuals now treat one another as pure enemies. The entire process can become emotional and physically draining on the soon-to-be divorced couple, as well as family and friends, who are often caught in the crossfire. Additional conflict then surfaces, as husband and wife expect loved ones to “take sides.”
The process of divorce can cost thousands of dollars, as husband and wife hire legal counsel to fight for divvying personal belongings and property. In the long run, divorce is responsible for creating two separate households instead of one, meaning the cost of living for both individuals increases and in many cases, shared expenses are no longer a financial luxury. The issue of child support and alimony will also come up during a divorce.
c) Gender Inequality:
The traditional roles pertaining to family have typically made divorce especially hard on women, who more often take on the responsibility of rearing their children after a separation with their father. In many countries, the earning potential of divorced women is significantly lower than divorced men because obtaining exclusive custody of children hinders their ability to satisfy the job requirements of typical high-paying employment. Therefore, many national and local governments have actually set up a branch of welfare to directly assist divorced mothers and their children.
On the other hand, divorced men designated exclusive custody of their children are also at a disadvantage, as men are less likely to fight for and receive child support than women.
Often, divorce complaints contain embarrassing allegations that may or may not be true. Spousal abuse, neglect, child abuse, and even personal issues regarding sexuality are some of the pokes that upset couples make at one another .
While a divorce is especially earth shattering for many adults, the children are often the worst victims of their parent’s separation. Even when children are too young to realize what is going on, they still feel the effects in many different areas of their life â€“ some occurring later in years. Children of divorced parents face a higher chance of exhibiting behavioral problems than those of non-divorced parents. They may also fall into a higher rate of clinical depression and in regards to males, are more likely to commit suicide when older .
Contributing Factors of Divorce
Depending on the circumstances, a once-loving couple may slowly or quickly deteriorate to the point where they no longer are able to function as a supportive unit. Divorce becomes inevitable, as poor communication; overall unhappiness; abuse (verbal, mental, physical, emotional); cheating; external issues (alcohol, gambling, drugs); and financial difficulties threaten the stability of a marriage.
To get a sense of the main causes of divorce, a survey conducted in 2004 cited the main grounds for divorce in the United Kingdom included extramarital affairs (27%); family strains (18%); emotional and physical abuse (17%); mid-life crisis (13%); addictions (6%); and being married to a workaholic (6%) . Religious differences and marrying too young also contribute to divorce.
How to Prevent a Divorce
Some divorces take place because a couple is unable to properly communicate with one another in order to solve the problems that threaten their marriage. In some cases, the problems are rather easy to work through, but only worsen as more time passes without resolution. Resentment, anger, and frustration begins to fester until yelling replaces rational conversation and the married couple becomes increasingly unhappy with the present state of their marriage. Overall, divorce is quite preventable (when you’re ready to work at it). Common divorce prevention methods include:
Recognizing the main causes of why a marriage tends to fail plays a helpful role in preventing divorce because it is much easier to find the proper help needed to treat minor conflict before it becomes a larger problem . For example, learning how extramarital affairs begin; how to stop the cycle; and how to recover from the pain of deception is a great approach to prevent one of the most common causes of divorce.
b) Open the Lines of Communication:
Marriages often falter when a failure to communicate becomes an issue regarding the physical and emotional interaction that takes place between a husband and wife. Unhappiness arises when one or both partners are unable to express their overall feelings or discontent concerning the marriage. A married couple should be able to speak upon all of the good and bad things that occur in their life and feel confident their spouse can provide sufficient support.
c) Tackle Conflict Right Away:
A couple that deals with conflict at the first sign of irritation increases their chances of avoiding a trip to the divorce lawyers. This includes talking out all problems, and keeping an open mind to their spouse’s opinion. When husbands and wives include one another in their decision-making and train of thought pertaining to conflict, a better solution for both is often achieved.
d) Adultery Prevention:
One of the main reasons a marriage heads for divorce is when the husband and/or wife becomes involved with another. Many consider adultery an act of abuse that damages both the emotional and physical aspects of a marriage . Some men and women intentionally “cheat” on their spouses, while others fall into preventable circumstances that lead to an affair. Guilt, anger, and resentment are just some of the things that accompany infidelity, which may forever shatter the matrimonial bonds of trust.
e) Show Interest:
Perhaps, you like quiet walks on the beach, while your better half enjoys camping in the mountains. Every couple may find a commonality within their interests that allows them to spend quality time that both can find enjoyable. Every once in a while, it doesnâ€™t hurt to step outside of their individual circles to share the things their spouse enjoys.
f) Friendship First:
Husbands and wives that treat their partners like their best friend face a better chance of making a marriage last by building strong foundations that will sustain the test of time.
g) Nothing is Perfect:
Some men and women enter a marriage with great expectations that may not live up to their picture of the perfect marriage. Since nothing is perfect, couples need to learn how to deal with disappointment and failure. When couples become aware of the little quirks, irritations, imperfections, and limitations in a marriage and discuss ways on how to improve their relationship, they are also better able to cope with conflict in the future.
h) Take Care of Yourself:
Some marriages end because spouses feel the “thrill is gone” or their better half has lost some of their appeal. Staying healthy is one of the best ways to keep up physical appearances. This includes eating right, exercising, and getting routine checkups at the doctors.
i) Attend a Relationship Workshop:
Local relationship workshops are available in most cities and towns, which teach and equip married couples with the practical skills that lead to more fulfilling interactions.
j) Be a Good Listener:
If half the divorced couples simply took the time to listen to their spouse, they may have been able to prevent their failed marriage. Not only does listening help couples to better understand their partner, but also stops the progression of conflict that brings a marriage closer to dissolution.
k) Long-Term Marriage Courses :
Some couples require extensive therapy to rebuild their marriage and prevent divorce. There are long-term marriage courses that last for weeks â€“ sometimes for as long as eight- to ten-week sessions. Some of the topics couples will encounter include learning how to stop damaging behaviors from ruining a relationship; ways to deal with conflict; and ways on meeting the needs of their spouse.
l) Build Strong Family Ties:
In many cases, a happy family supports a happy marriage. Building strong parent-to-children, siblings-to-siblings, and parent-to-parent relationships creates an atmosphere and home base that encourages a long-lasting marriage.
m) Love vs. Intimacy:
In a marriage, there is love and there is intimacy and the two entities are quite different. In order to sustain a fruitful marriage, both partners must receive a satisfying degree of love and intimacy that caters to the body, mind, and soul. Couples should also learn why there is a need for intimacy in a marriage; how the view of intimacy often differs between a man and a woman; and how to remove the obstacles that hinder achieving emotional, physical, and sexual fulfillment.
n) Religious Counseling:
Depending on your faith, consulting a priest, pastor, rabbi, minister, or other religious figure may help save a marriage. Sometimes, churches will offer counseling and other alternatives to assist their parishioners on their road towards divorce prevention.
o) Marriage Retreats:
Without the threat of distraction, some couples participate in a marriage retreat, where they enter a program (usually on a weekend) that is designed to help married couples improve their relationship with one another. During the retreat, it is the hope that husband and wife will grow closer and come to a common ground regarding the preservation of their vows. Some retreats are religiously based, while others allow couples to reconnect while “roughing it” in a wilderness setting.
 Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 57: 993