Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when adults understand that divorce is bad for families. Divorce is a serious problem no matter how many there are. Even though the overall divorce rate in the United States is declining, the number of marriages that will eventually end by divorce stands at 45 percent or higher. In addition, the divorce rate for older Americans continues to rise.
Dr. David J. Ayers is the Interim Provost at Grove City College and Fellow for Marriage and Family with the Institute for Faith and Freedom. He recently published a book titled, Christian Marriage: A Comprehensive Introduction. He says that every “married couple faces severe challenges in their relationship” and that “some marriages are too damaged and toxic to succeed.” He adds, “However, most divorces can be prevented, and doing so leaves a lot more people a lot better off.” He proceeds to give several reasons to call time out for marital troubles.
First, the vast majority of marriages that end in divorce are not characterized by high levels of conflict such as violence, vicious quarrels, or profound disagreement…. The common notion that divorce typically ends a marriage riddled by severe conflict is false.
Second, marital unhappiness is normally one-sided… about three of every four spouses who said their marriages were “unhappy” had a spouse who was happy with the union. Meanwhile, the post-divorce period is often marked by terrible and destructive quarreling, not an end to conflict…. Some divorces ended conflict, but most did not, or even increased strife.
Next, divorce does not usually lead to a happier subsequent marriage. Statistically, second marriages are not happier than first ones. Remarriages are not only statistically more likely to end in divorce but re often preceded by one or more cohabiting relationships. That kind of instability is not ideal, especially for children.
So, if divorce is not the answer for so-called unhappy marriages, what is the solution? Ayers says that part of the solution is to have a positive attitude about marriage and a negative attitude about divorce, with friends who share the same values. He also says that “securing professional counseling that is positively committed to saving marriage” is “crucial.”
Practically, dealing with life issues that are undermining marriages, such as substance abuse or pornography, or money issues, are vital and can be helped by good counselors. Seeking and granting forgiveness and having the courage and transparency to engage in those transactions is essential to marital health. And often, just seeing where marriage problems are rooted in stressors outside the relationship, such as lousy bosses or caring for sick parents, can help. This too shall pass.
Most problems in marriage do not have to become fatal problems. Numerous couples have gone through what you are now facing and successfully moved beyond the problem. Many marriages are stronger for having faced a serious problem and worked through it together. Not every marriage can be saved, but those marriages that are saved will bring greater strength to the families, communities, and nations of those involved.