In an interview recently, I was asked the question everyone wants an answer to. How do couples who stay married do it? I’m pretty sure the interviewer was looking for a much more profound answer than the one I gave. However, the truth of the matter is this. People who stay married do it by not getting divorced.
Staying married doesn’t mean much if the relationship is unbalanced, unhealthy, or unhappy. However, people stay in marriages that aren’t working all the time. Some would say that any relationship that lasts a lifetime, marriage or any other kind, inevitably will go through really difficult periods. Sometimes the hard times ebb and flow in a natural cycle as people grow, grow apart, and grow back together. Sometimes the hard times don’t get better on their own and require help or intervention. Sometimes they never do get better.
I’ve seen couples doing all of the above. I’ve seen couples stay together that have no business staying together. I’ve seen couples weather the unthinkable in their relationship and come out better for it, closer because of it, on the other side. That said, the one thing, the only thing that every couple who stays married has in common is a commitment to their marriage above all else, and an alliance in agreement that they will not get divorced. It’s that simple.
The commonly held belief that approximately half of all marriages end in divorce is a myth. Those numbers are skewed in the calculation to create a sensationalistic headline. The fact of the matter is that in the U.S. divorce rates are steadily on the decline. Some might say it’s the economy. I think that’s only partially true. I would say that many people in the marriage marketplace right now have been touched by divorce in some way and know how painful it is on every level, so there is a higher value on marriage stability.
However, staying together is not enough. Two people who have that degree of commitment to marriage also need to have an equal commitment to happiness, respect, love, and everything else that makes living a life together worth having. That resolve has to be backed up with skill and flexibility to really do relationship well as life changes people and things. Without the know how commitment can be a prison. We aren’t taught how to do relationships in school. Many of us had less than super role models we learned from. Being happily married isn’t something that just happens, it’s something you do. Love is a verb.
If you are committed to staying married, and you are less happy than you want to be, that’s not normal and it’s not ok. The good news is it’s probably mendable because you can learn the skills it takes to be in relationship. Sooner is better than later, because sometimes later is too late. Waiting too long might not mean divorce. There is a fate far, far worse than divorce. Waiting too long may mean spending the rest of your life in a soulless, loveless, lifeless marriage, and that is a recipe for slow, early death.Read More