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Marriage on the Rocks?

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Just wait it out!

couple arguing

Dr. Janet Taylor: With over half of the married population in the U.S. throwing in the towel and heading towards divorce court, what is on the minds of the other half? You know, those who stick it out, survive infidelity, financial crisis, have conflicts over raising children, meddling in-laws, or are just plain sick of each other. I have certainly had moments, days, and even weeks when I wondered if I could survive being married to my current (and only) husband.

Laura A. Munson has written a thought-provoking article, Those Aren't Fighting Words, Dear, in the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times. Her honest appraisal and depiction of surviving feeling like the "other" in a dysfunctional marriage and actually making it work is food for thought. Read it and let me know what you think. 

Experts know that being in an unhappy marriage can be worse for you than the process of obtaining a divorce. Marriage can improve mental health and happiness by creating meaning, and providing consistent emotional and social support. That is assuming that you are blissfully happy -- maybe not blissfully, how about just okay? But what if you are unhappy and stick it out, like Laura did? Maybe too many of us have a tendency to give up too quickly on a difficult relationship or marriage. Obviously there are issues which are exempted from making an exit. No one should be subjected to physical or sexual abuse or emotional violence within a marriage.

A study of unhappily married individuals found that getting divorced was not an automatic promise of increased happiness or well-being. In fact, two-thirds of unhappily married people who remained married reported happy marriages five years later. Are you really confused now?

Here's the point. The quality of most marriages fluctuates. If you have periods of feeling satisfied and fulfilled, enjoy them, because there may also be down, difficult times. Those waves of good and bad are normal within relationships. However, if you are in a long-term, low-quality, miserable marriage that results in you consistently having episodes of low happiness and self-esteem, you have to ask yourself: exactly what am I waiting for? 

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67 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jeffrey Levine August 3, 2009, 8:36 PM

Thank you so much for your insightful post and the link to a very powerful article. I think the bottom line lesson in Laura Munson’s article is something that can be applied to even less important issues - and the lesson is, “it’s not about me.” So much time is wasted by couples defending and explaining themselves instead of listening and providing a safe place for their partner. Little spats become big arguments - big arguments turn into divorces. While an honest assessment of your relationship is always advisable, I recommend starting from a place free of blame and judgment. Thank you for bringing this post to our attention.
- Jeffrey

al August 3, 2009, 9:14 PM

Rachelle August 4, 2009, 11:33 AM

It’s nice to see an article about sticking thru the bad times. It actually made me feel really good to read it, as it came at the perfect time. My husband and I have been in a bit of a low spot for a while now. I come from a divorced marriage, and have been married before. This is my second marriage. I was very young when I married the 1st time. On the contrary, my husband’s parents have been together for 37+ years. However, their marriage has been an unhappy one. My husband & I view fights completely differently. Luckily we don’t get into actual fights very often, but when it happens, my reaction is far different from my husband’s. I automatically worry that this is the fight that will cause him to leave. He says everyone fights sometimes. I’m happy to know that other couples live through hard times, and DON’T run out and divorce.

Tom August 9, 2009, 12:09 AM

I don’t wish infidelity upon anyone. It’s the most difficult thing to deal with in your relationship.

So many people think they would run if it happened to them, but when it does, they get scared. It’s hard to leave someone you love even if you’ve been cheated on.

Brandy December 15, 2009, 5:27 PM

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