Marriage rates supposedly are on the decline. While it’s an oft-repeated statistic that 50 percent of first marriages end in divorce, that number has remained unchanged for the past 30 years. Divorce rates also vary with the partners’ level of education, religious beliefs, and many other factors.
But when divorce does happen, it results in difficulties for adults as well as children. For adults, divorce can be one of life’s most stressful life events. The decision to divorce often is met with ambivalence and uncertainty about the future. If children are involved, they may experience negative effects such as denial, feelings of abandonment, anger, blame, guilt, preoccupation with reconciliation, and acting out.
- Communication has become negative. Once communication has deteriorated, often it is hard to get it going back in the right direction. Negative communication can include anything that leaves one partner feeling depressed, insecure, disregarded, or wanting to withdraw from the conversation.
- You’re going through a big life transition (e.g. marriage!, a new job, moving, illness, infertility, birth, or adoption, death of a loved one, living with family members, or becoming a stepparent, to name a few).
- Many times I have heard couples say, “We know what’s wrong, but we just don’t know how to fix it.”. This is a perfect time to get a third party involved. If a couple is stuck, a skilled clinician may be able to get them moving in the right direction.
- When a couple is staying together for the sake of the children. If a couple feels it is wise to stay together for the sake of the children, it may help to involve an objective third party. Often couples believe that they are doing the right thing when staying together actually is detrimental to the children.
- You’re afraid to speak up. When it’s just too frightening to even bring issues up, whether it be sex, money, or even annoying little habits being blown out of proportion.
- You start keeping secrets. Each person in a relationship has a right to privacy, but when you keep secrets from each other, something isn’t right.
- You believe everything would be OK if he or she would just change. The only person you can change is yourself, so if you’re waiting for your spouse to change, you’ll wait a long time.
- There are ongoing relationship issues. Every relationship has sticking points or those big-ticket arguments that carry over for months without any kind of resolution in sight. This includes differing views on family finances, incompatible sex drives and differing parenting philosophies.
All marriages are not salvageable. In the process of marriage counseling, some couples may discover it is healthier for them to be apart. However, for those relationships that can be salvaged, and for those couples willing to commit to the process, marriage counseling may be able to remind them why they fell in love and keep them that way.