What started out as wonderful romance has declined into fighting, bickering, disillusionment and disconnection. How can there possibly be hope to save a marriage when both partners harbor hard feelings toward each other? Feeling hopeless leads to feeling indifferent about working on the marriage making it hard to find the energy to keep trying after trying your hardest for many years.
Many couples think conflict is a sign they’ve married the wrong person. When conflict is the pathway to intimacy and understanding your differences as a couple without taking things personally. When years have passed and hopelessness has set in, how can a couple combat hopelessness when the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse may be present – sure indicators there is trouble in your marriage?
First – the 50% divorce rate is wrong. It’s not that high. According to the book The Good News About Marriage the statistic is actually probably closer to 20 – 25 percent for first marriages and 31 percent for all marriages (first and subsequent marriages). (Whitehead, 2014) It’s been reported that the divorce rate for second marriages is high at 65% and 73% for third marriages; however, the statistics as reported by Shaunti Feldhahn and Tally Whitehead’s book The Good News About Marriage (2014) are:
- An estimated current rate of divorce for first marriages in the US is
- 31% for all marriages;
- 34% for remarriages
- Again, the commonly quoted stats saying the divorce rate of first marriages is 50%, second marriages 67%, and third marriages 73% (see Psychology Today) is not based on any actual data nor can anyone trace where the original numbers came from (see The Good News About Marriage by Shaunti Feldhahn). Thus, this misleading statistic should never be quoted or shared in the future.
Second: Couples’ therapy works if only one half of the couple attends. How? When one person changes their emotional reaction, it forces the other partner to respond differently. Thus, creating room for the relationship to change and couples to relate in different ways. However, when both couples are present at therapy sessions and leaning in to make an effort to make the marriage better – there is usually a quicker rate of change.
Third: Relating well takes skill. Skills can be learned. Relationships can evolve and trust can be rebuilt.
Fourth: Many of our bad habits are leftover ways of relating with our childhood and families. These ways of relating often don’t work in new relationships, namely – our marriages. A professional can help you break dysfunctional habits.
Fifth: You likely invested a lot of money in your wedding, maybe it’s time to invest money in your marriage. Therapy carry’s a stigma, but what price are you willing to pay if your marriage fails?
IS IT POSSIBLE FOR PEOPLE TO CHANGE?
- Therapists can translate and look for the emotion under the behavior and help make sense out of seemingly-irrational emotions and reactions.
- Therapists are objective and are able to notice when a spouse is hearing something from a specific perception versus hearing the literal words that are being said. Perception often gets in the way of clear communication.
- Therapists create a sense of trust and safety so spouses and partners can finally say deep fears. Finding out what the fear is can help the other spouse understand when the fear is gripping their partner and causing them to act out in difficult ways. Knowing the fears allows for emotional intimacy of the other person and opens a pathway for reassurance around the fear, rather than the normal escalating emotional reaction.
- Therapists can identify patterns of relating from childhood and attachment themes and longings to help sort out the root of where behaviors and thoughts come from.
- All of this helps you see our partner in a completely different light and allows for compassion to enter the relationship and with compassion comes the ability to understand, not take things personally and opens the door for love.
ADHD AFFECT ON MARRIAGE
*There are specific challenges couples face when one or both spouses have ADHD.