Friday, August 21, 2009

Is There a Hope for My Marriage?

Often we think an unhappy couple has only two options:

-Stay together and be miserable

-Get a divorce

But there is a third option, and many couples successfully take this other road. In an exciting new study, couples participating in a national survey were asked to rate their marriage on a scale of one to seven, with one being very unhappy and seven being very happy. Those who rated their marriages a "one" had incredible turnarounds just five years later – if they stayed together. In fact, 77 percent of those giving their marriage a very unhappy "one" rated their marriage as a "seven" after five years. Was there some breakthrough therapy involved? No. In fact, many did relatively little – they just "stuck it out" and things got better.

As mentioned earlier, another study found that about 60 percent of marriages that ended in divorce were not bad marriages, but average. They had average levels of positive interactions and average levels of conflict. Basically, these marriages were "good enough" but could be improved. Most marriages go through emotional ups and downs – times of great happiness and times of boredom and fatigue.

To have good marriages, we need to ride out the "lows" and learn from those times so that the relationship can be strengthened. If your relationship is at a low point and you wonder what happened to the spark, there is good news. It's not too late to revitalize your relationship.

What Makes Marriages Get Better?

Researchers followed up on those couples who rated their marriages as unhappy at first and happy five years later. Here's what the couples told them were the reasons for the dramatic turnaround:

Waiting. Since many couples have unhappy marriages due to outside pressures (like a job loss or the demands of young children), the passage of time changed those circumstances. Things just naturally got better again.

Working at it. Many of the problems in marriage are a result of poor communication. Some couples told the researchers they simply learned to take small steps – like listening to each other – which resulted in happier marriages. For example, husbands learned to compliment wives, and wives learned to encourage husbands.

Personal happiness/perspective change in one spouse. Sometimes, one spouse simply decided not to base all of his or her happiness on the mood of the other spouse. Instead, one spouse took up a hobby or simply made an attitude adjustment that allowed him or her to be more patient and accepting of the other.

Credible threat of consequences for bad behavior. Some of the marriages were initially very unhappy because the husbands were engaged in "bad behaviors" – out late drinking with the boys, infidelity or even occasional abuse. Just as Dr. James Dobson advises in his book Love Must Be Tough, these wives took firm action and let their husbands know they would not tolerate such behavior. The husbands changed.

There are many ways to improve your marriage. Today, there are hundreds of tools focused on ways to build strong, healthy relationships. A few examples include weekend getaway-style marriage conferences by Family Life Today or Marriage Encounter, film series and seminars hosted by local churches under the title "Marriage Enrichment" and mentoring programs through local churches.

Find article here:


Queen 5 said...

Ummm...... Very interesting and real. I guess it pays to be patient but at the same time it takes two to tangle. I believe the decision to hang on and make it (Marriage) work lies with both husband and wife.

XtianDoctrine said...

The decision to hang to the relationship does not necessarily lie in the hands of both husband and wife. The say the decision in the both hand is to presume that they are oi their right state of mind, which is not always the case. It may happen one of them is so consumed with anger, bitterness, unforgiveness or even caught and tied up in infidelity that it takes the sole determination of one....being patient, long suffering, prayers, and faith in the saving Grance of the Almighty save the marriage.

Akin said...

I happen to agree with xtiandoctrine. It does not always take two to tango. This is what the scriptures mean in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:

"Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken."

Someone has to assume the role of the adult and matured. It is not always easy but never impossible. What the world would tell you is, "If he/she doesn't play ball, then we both drop the ball and no point in trying to salvage the marriage." But God tells us to otherwise, "Stay and work it out to make it work."

Queen 5 said...

The decision to stick together does not necessary lie in both hands, agreed. I believe this is one way to look at it. How about unbelievers who don't understand patience ,prayer or longsuffering?
My parents seperated when I was 10 years old. My Mom tried all she can to save her marrige. From prayer to patience plus longsuffering mixed with kindness. I mean she did everything she could to save her children from the statistic of "children from broken home "until my father could no longer take it. He moved out of our home since my mother wouldn't despite all the abuse. Men! Our
mothers in Africa tolerated a lot of stuff that we( present day wives) can't tolerate.
How about our Pastors who are on the 2nd and the third marriage?
Brethren, I submit to you that you can sometimes do all you know to do yet it still will take 2 to tango.

john said...

Queen5 it is rather unfortunate your childhood experience and I see it is, understandably, a very painful one for you....It shows from your comments. I see where you're coming from.

You are quite right our fathers and our men have not always lived desirable lives and have wraught bitterness in the hearts and minds of our women, wives, mothers, and children. However must we carry that baggage for the rest of our lives?

You see most of the postings and comments that appear on this blog are based on the premise of....

"We are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ and we live our lives to please Him, to do His will, and to fill the earth with His goodness...."

This is found at very bottom of the home page of the blog.

As born-again believers we don't (or shouldn't) live our lives based on our parents' experiences or on the experiences of some other men or women...pastors or not. We strive to live our lives always with this thought in mind:

"What would Jesus do or have us do?"

Jesus' call to us was:

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light." (Matthew 11:28-30 New Living Translation).

Wasn't there something we left at the foot of the cross when we answered that call and surrendered our lives to Christ? Didn't we shed the baggage of pain and abuse?

God's intention for marriage is quite clear and scattered all over the pages of the scriptures:

"For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh"

"What God has joined together let no man put assunder"

"God hates divorce"

etc, etc...

Any ideas or suggestions contrary to these are straight from the pit of hell and should never be advocated on this blog or anywhere else for that matter.

Your mother.....God bless her soul....even though she probably wasn't a born again believer (I presume) did the right thing. It may sound foolish to you and may not be what "Present Day Wives".....(that actually sounds very "Real Housewives of New York" or "Sex In the City")...such as yourself can tolerate, it is still the Godly thing to do. She followed God's Word and I'm certain she'll reap the reward for that.

So I support the other comments here. Not only does it not take two to suggest otherwise and thereby encourage divorce amount to sin against God.

Temi said...

There is indeed a tango going on here.

This goes to show that, literary speaking, it does take two to tango. This is understood from the origin of the idiom person cannot tango alone....

It can be argued both ways, as far as marital challenges go, either for or against "it takes two to tango". But the bottom line is.....which I'm sure we all do agree....we must do everything we possibly can to make the marriage work.

I do not believe anyone here is encouraging divorce at all. However there at times when all human effrots to restore the marriage will fail. This is however not a license for not trying, irrespective of past experiences or who is at fault.

God's will is for the marriage to stand. I pray no one here has to go through it. But if you are reading this and you are experiencing challenges in your marriage, I pray that God will bring restoration in Jesus Name.

Queen 5 said...

I agree it can be argued both ways when it come to marital challenges. No one is advocating Divorce here. Queen 5 is happily married and would not be seeking Divorce. Amen. The word of God is our final authority written in black and white......God hates divorce,Period!
I like to join Temi and encourage a brother or a sister who's heart may have been broken or going through a difficult marriage and is saying like my mother- "I have done all I know to do but nothing seems to be working". Don't give up.Be strong. Lay it at the Master's Feet. Weeping may endure for a night but Joy comes in the morning.
My personal story( Coming up soon) ended well.My mom today is reaping the fruit of her patience.

adetayo said...

I have read with keen interest all the comments posted on this article, especially because I will be getting married in a few weeks and the word "marriage" seems to catch my attention a lot these days:)
Over the past few months I have gone through all the emotions imaginable - joy, excitement etc, and then sometimes anxiety, wondering if I'm really ready for this commitment of a see, I've been single for sooooooo long that sometimes, even thinking about the changes I have to make in the way I live my life brings home the seriousness of the commitment. Now I not only have just myself to think about, there's now that special someone to always consider:).
I'm the kind of person who always prepares extensively for anything I consider I've been reading books and seeking wise counsel and have even gone through 8 weeks of marriage counselling in my church...but ultimately, I trust God for the wisdom to be an excellent wife and suitable helpmeet for my husband. I look forward to the adventure ahead, and I ask that you all pls pray with me for the blessing of a godly, Christian marriage which will be exemplary in this generation.

XtianDoctrine said...

Congratulations to you Adetayo. You've got nothing to be afraid of. Marriage is a honorable thing and God will grant you the grace and the wisdom to navigate the new life.

amma said...

Dear Adetayo, congratulations and God Almighty bless your intending nuptials. I have also read with keen interest the ongoing exchanges about the issue of marriages and divorce and i can relate to all the writers view, but before i say anything, i would like to tell you, you that you are taking a bold, wonderful step and God will honour that.I recently married( last month) at the ripe wonderful age of 35 and experienced all the emotions you are going through as well as some good dose of mockery and censure. It will be well as long as you both hold tight to Him that brought you both together. He will help you weather the storms that definitely will come ( dont let anyone decieve you otherwise), He is the third cord in your threefold cord that cannot be broken.My sister He will be there through all you will go through, the wonderful, good, not so good and bad times, even when He SEEMS not to be there.

Divorce is never the answer but unfortunately, it happens and the pain it causes in all involved intimately or peripherally cannot be quantified. Its something every couple christian or not should strive to avoid, but if and when it does happen, if the door of reconciliation is closed due to various reasons, then we must ask God for forgiveness for our own part in the problem and ask Him for the next move to make. I unfortunately do not subscribe to the notion some carry that divorce will land a christian in hell, but i do subscribe the biblical injunction that we should strive to be at peace with all men, which should make us do everything within our power not to go the path of divorce.

My parents separated when i was eight and it was an ugly episode that put the fear of marriage in me, but when i became a christian, my views slowly but steadly was changed by God's word and by good christian examples.Oh,it wasnt easy because frequently i encountered christians who were barely steps from divorce or who out of "what will people say or God hates divorce"
are just cohabitting with such bitterness towards one another.

I however choose to believe as John says as Christian, divorce should never be an option, not just because God hatesivorce but because for me, it would mean we are saying love has failed, which will amount to saying God has failed. This may seem like a very naive way of looking at this issue, but i think God can give us strength to stay strong in the face of difficulties in marriage until our change comes, and when it never comes we can still draw on His strength to do as He would have us do despite what everyone or our circumstances is saying. God bless your marriage,Adetayo.