The Hard Road To A Happy Marriage
Did you know that, statistically, half of all divorces take place in the first seven years of marriage? Or put another way, if couples with children are going to divorce, they’ll do it before their children reach the age of five. Anyone who has had kids can understand why – it’s a time of major adjustment and upheaval, when your nice little life ends abruptly and a new one is created around a person who can’t do anything for him or herself. Even if you luck out and get an “easy” baby, there’s very little that’s easy about those first few years.
And with the focus so much on figuring out how this new little person is going to fit into your lives, it can be very tempting to put your marriage on the back burner. You both know how hard it is, so why put pressure on yourselves to focus on your marriage, too? Then, as the children get older and there are more logistics involved, it doesn’t take much to see that life gets easier when one of you takes one kid to soccer, while the other stays home and cooks dinner, or takes the other kids to their own soccer games.
But while this kind of task-sharing may keep things running as smoothly as possible, behind the scenes, you and your partner slowly start to become strangers. The glue that held you together isn’t as strong anymore, since you’re not seeing as much of one another (with your clothes on or without). Becoming a parent changes you, both of you, until one day you realize that while your life has taken on a life of its own, your marriage has slowly, but definitely, drifted off track.
Even though this might not describe your situation exactly, you may be interested to know that most marriages don’t end for the big reasons we might assume. It’s not usually domestic violence or drug abuse that drive marriages apart; it’s more often simply that the two “fell out of love”.
That’s a real shame, because giving up on your marriage at this point robs you of the opportunity to get back to the love and passion you felt in the beginning of your relationship, once the adjustment periods are behind you and you’ve come to an awareness and acceptance about who you and your spouse really are. We’ve somehow come to believe that love should be easy, and that if it isn’t, we should stop wasting our time. But couples who have been together for many, many years will tell you that there are always periods that are hard, that it isn’t always easy. But what is? Only the quick-fixes tend to be easy; most of what we value in life and the things with real meaning are things we have to work for: our educations, our careers, our health, our finances, our gardens…and our relationships.
Here’s another interesting statistic for you: it would appear that about 10% of couples who divorce get remarried…to each other (it’s a hard stat to pin down because no one has tracked that remarriage rate specifically, but that number would seem to be accurate, and somewhat conservative, if anything). That’s a lot of heartbreak and expense to learn that where you want to be is where you were.
Life is too short to be unhappy. The problem is, separating or divorcing is not always the path to happiness we think (and hope) it will be. If you are struggling in your marriage, are feeling fed up, lonely, or just worn out, don’t give up hope. Start by reconnecting, enjoying one another’s company, and spending time together. It’s a small step, yes, but a great start.
(I highly recommend the book The Divorce Remedy by Michele Weiner-Davis. I was so inspired by her approach and the success she has in working with couples, that I took her intensive training for therapists, so that I could help my own clients find the same kind of success and happiness. And one of the best things about her approach is that you don’t need a willing partner to make significant and important changes in marriage; you can create that ripple effect by seeking counselling and making changes yourself. Check out her book, or if you’re looking for marriage advice or couples counselling in the Oakville area, call me to walk through this process with a partner.)
Here’s to many more happy years together.