Does Anyone Stay Married Anymore?
Like me, you probably believe that the current U.S. divorce rate hovers around 50%. I was very surprised to find varying and conflicting information; some experts report that the rate is currently below 30%, while others report that the divorce rate is almost 60%! Additionally, I found that some experts report that the rate is declining overall, while others believe it is increasing. It’s enough to scare anyone from getting married.
Why Do People Get Divorced?
The reasons vary from expert to expert and vary from year to year. Here are some recurrent reasons I found during my search (not in any particular order):
- Weight Gain (that surprised me)
- Lack of Communication
- Abuse (emotional, physical, verbal)
- Grew Apart / Fell Out of Love
- Couldn’t Agree on Parenting Style
- Married Young
- Unrealistic Expectations
- Constant Arguing
Are the People that Stay Married Actually Happily Married?
I’m sure we all know that just because people are married does not mean they have a happy, healthy marriage. I see plenty of miserable marriages. Why do they stay together? For the kids? For financial reasons? It’s comfortable? Who wants to live that way? How awful! Well, I say that if you’re married, why not make it the best danged marriage ever!
Here are some dos and don’ts of a happy marriage:
- Don’t argue in front of family and friends. Have you ever been on a double or group date where another couple has a raging argument then the rest of the date is totally awkward and kind of ruined for everyone? Don’t be that couple! Disagreeing in an adult manner is perfectly fine, but arguing makes everyone around you uncomfortable, is belittling to your partner, and does little to resolve a conflict.
- Never drop the “D” word unless you REALLY mean it. Threatening divorce is a huge bomb to drop and violates trust between you and your partner. It’s like crying wolf. If used enough times in arguments, the other partner starts to shut down emotionally and doesn’t care anymore.
- Don’t let your marriage get to the point of feeling nothing at all. The old adage, ‘there’s a fine line between love and hate’ is so true, meaning that when you love someone, your other emotions can be equally as intense (hate, anger, passion, etc.). Once there are no feelings at all, the marriage is in serious trouble.
- Don’t bad-mouth your spouse to anyone; it’s okay to confide concerns about your marriage to a friend, but bad-mouthing your spouse to your friends can rally more negative feelings toward your spouse. Before you know it, all of your well-meaning friends are talking smack about your spouse because they are angry that their friend is unhappy…it’s a downward spiral.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Seriously. Who cares that the toothpaste gets squeezed from the middle of the tube versus the bottom, or that the toilet paper roll is put on upside down, or that the toilet seat is left up or down. We all grew up with different parents and have different ideas of how things are ‘supposed’ to be.
- Stop being lazy. Sometimes we truly are too tired or sick to do something for the other person when asked. But even if you can only do that thing for 60 seconds (rub feet, for example), a little bit goes a long way.
- Don’t say any words that you can’t take back. If you’re too angry to be rational, find a quiet corner to write / type how you’re feeling …helps me.
- Don’t walk away when things get tough – that’s the easy way out…so we think. Divorce seems like the easy way out, but I’ve seen the pain run so very deeply with even the most amicable of divorces. It is NOT easier in the long run.
- ALWAYS be respectful to your spouse. Treat them like you first met.
- Have a date night; ideally, once per week. If that is too frequent (kids, work schedules, etc.), aim for twice per month. We should never stop courting each other.
- Compliment your spouse every day.
- Do at least one small, nice thing for your spouse each day without expecting anything in return. If you’re not sure what to do, ask, ‘what small task can I do to make your day today’?
- Touch your spouse in non-sexual ways when interacting. Human touch fosters loving, trusting feelings throughout the day.
- Kiss each other often.
- Be humane, kind, and compassionate to your partner. We often expect more from our partners than from ourselves. My dad gave me this awesome piece of marital advice (he’s been happily married (most of the time) since 1974…you can do the math): most individuals think that they are working harder or doing more than the other person. That piece of advice gave me grounding perspective; it helps me remember that my perspective isn’t always the truth.
- When you can’t stand your partner and need help remembering why you married that person, sit down and list all of your favorite traits.
- Give your spouse space and time away. We all need time alone to recharge and find ourselves.
- Act like kids and have fun. Play tag or Legos or video games together. Make funny faces at each other. Break out the sidewalk chalk and make a stick-figure masterpiece.
- Let go of the need to control your spouse’s every move. You’ll find this very freeing…it’s a lot of exacerbating work to micromanage another person.
- Be very conscientious of your tone of voice…this can hurt so much more than words. A condescending “duh” or accusatory tone can cause major emotional damage and defensive, angry responses. Who wants to be hugged or touched after being treated that way?
- Let go of your pride and embrace humility. Pride is a major marriage killer. People are human and make mistakes. NONE of us is perfect. Ask for forgiveness, freely forgive, and love.
- Laugh at yourselves. As a married couple that had 4 kids within 5 ½ years, we have amassed a large collection of unbelievably funny stories….like, my husband was looking all over and calling for our seemingly missing child…while he was carrying that same child on his hip…totally embarrassing, but we had to laugh.
- Exercise and eat better. This makes us feel and look sexier to ourselves and, in turn, our spouses.
- Find what makes you happy. Happiness look gorgeous on people!
No marriage is 100% blissful for the entire roller coaster ride. There are usually some really good times, some really bad times and some in-between times. I’m certainly no expert on marriage, but, in my almost 19 years of marriage, I’ve asked a lot of successful couples for tips on what makes their marriage great and divorced or unhappy partners what they would do differently.
It seems that successful couples choose their partners every day. They choose to love each other. They choose to not take offense at their partner’s every word. They choose to trust each other. As my mom says: Remember that you are a team…it’s you two against the world. Stick up for each other.
Love and Marriage: Tips for a Happy Marriage
Love and Marriage: Tips for a Happy Marriage
Marriage Tip Jar
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