Divorce is rampant in the United States. An average of 48% of first marriages end in divorce in the US. In Arizona, that figure rises to 67%. It seems catastrophic number, doesn’t it? People that were so madly in love only months or years ago who swore to never live without each other. Remember that line “through sickness and pain” come to a place where they can no longer be under the same roof together.
So what happened? Why do people divorce?
From a philosophical point of view, we might say that we are on a journey for a period of time with this person and there are lessons we needed to learn from them. The ideal might be that we learned our lessons together, as a couple and we would continue to grow in our relationship together. Unfortunately, far too often, instead of focusing on ourselves we focus on and blame our partner for our own shortcomings.
What ends relationships?
There are those that are easy to identify such as adultery, drugs, or alcohol. Other addictions such as gambling, prostitution, pornography can be as devastating. There are abusive situations that can be physical, emotional, or sexual that need to be ended. Yet too frequently linger far too long because of the damage one individual is doing to another. Contemptuous situations within relationships are among the most devastating both physically and emotionally.
There are common day-to-day things that severe a relationship, slowly, strand by strand. Over time poor communication skills that use criticism and its’ counterpart defensiveness erode the love and appreciation partners once had for each other. Blaming one’s partner, critiquing them, and pointing out their shortcomings can become a sport in some relationships. Unfortunately, this sport overtime destroys the foundation of the relationship. There is truth in the saying that if “you are pointing your finger at someone that there are three other fingers pointing back at you.” We often identifying in others what we do not like in ourselves. If we have enough ego strength we can own our own shortcomings and not have to point them out in others. All too frequently individuals are unaware of their own inadequacy but can readily notice it in those closest to them. If this pattern continues over time it will make the relationship unbearable.
All too often the response to being criticized is to be defensive. After all I have just said that if someone is criticizing me it must be about that person and not necessarily about me. That may be true however your role in a successful relationship is to examine the criticism and find the grain of truth in it. For example, if my partner says “honey you forgot to take out the garbage.” I have two choices I can argue about it, make excuses about it or I can own it. “Oh you’re right honey I forgot to take out the trash.” One will lead to an argument. The other one leads to ownership of my actions. If I do this in my relationship and my partner is able to do this also the relationship may stand a good chance of growing and thriving.
Conflict management is another big roadblock for couples.
What most couples don’t realize is that nearly 70% of all issues in a marriage are not resolvable. Yes, you read that right, 70%. So only 30% of your issues are in fact resolvable issues. How can that be? It is true, when we choose someone to marry we choose a set of unsolvable issues. When people say we have irreconcilable differences what they are talking about is that they have not learned to negotiate the 70% of unresolvable issues that occur in their partnerships. So how do you live with that large number of unresolvable issues? The most important aspect is to learn to talk about and communicate about them in a way that is effective and useful in the relationship and not destructive.
Emotional management during conflict is an important skill set that is often lacking in couples. If one or both of the partners has difficulty managing emotions then this becomes a stumbling block for the relationship. People manage intense emotions in one of two ways that can impede communication. The first is to become overwhelmed with the emotion. This can be demonstrated in uncontrollable crying, raging, or creating a lot of unnecessary drama in situations. However, it can also or be demonstrated in ways such as refusing to talk, shutting down, refusing to stay in the conversation, leaving and refusing to come back to the table and talk about the situation. Both ways of managing intense emotions are not helpful for communicating over the long term and discussing resolvable or unresolvable issues.
Another big thing impediment to a good relationship is the lack of mutual appreciation of your partner or vice versa. Honoring each other’s dreams and aspirations is vital to a happy and healthy marriage. If both partners work to fulfill their own and the other’s aspirations and dreams the couple can develop a mutually beneficial life together in a healthy and happy way. Unfortunately, most couples feel that one must give up things for the other instead of finding win-win solutions.
Divorce is so prevalent because many individuals do not have the skills to navigate the many difficulties that arise in intimate relationships. Most of us are not taught these skills or grow up in Dysfunctional homes where we just know what our parents did that may not have been all that effective either. So we learn by making mistakes and all too often blaming the other person instead of looking at our own self. some people marry several times before they finally get it right. Individuals often say they finally found the right partner. However, what they finally did is figured out their own mistakes. They have made corrections in their own behavior becoming a better partner themselves.
If you require guidance, reach out to me, a divorce life coach, counselor and therapist.