In a report from the National Survey of Families and Households, 5,232 married adults were interviewed and 1,315 said they were “unhappily married.” Five years later, the same adults who said they were unhappily married, some of whom had divorced and some of whom had stayed married, were interviewed again.
Nearly 80% of the couples who decided to stick it out and stay together considered themselves “happily married” and “much happier.” Of the couples who got divorced, only 19% reported being happy.
Here’s the moral of the story: If you are thinking of divorcing your wife because you’re simply unhappy in your marriage, DON’T do it. Studies show you’ll be much happier in the end, if you can work through the issues. The grass is always greener where you water it. To that end, here are the 10 ways to divorce proof your marriage:
- Be faithful: Put your wife at the top of every relational list you have. Love her unconditionally and love her with every ounce of creativity you can muster. This may sound like a no-brainer, but the practice of faithfulness requires vigilance every day. Faithfulness is far more than a physical condition. If you’re still unclear, ask yourself the following questions to who is #1: Who do I spend the most time with? Who is my primary emotional confidant? Who do I text most often?Who do I call? Who gets my emails? Who lights up my fantasy life?
- Surround yourselves with strong relationships: When the couples around you separate or get divorced, ending your marriage begins to look par for the course. Peer pressure doesn’t let up just because we left high school. So make peer pressure your ally – Be deliberate about forging friendships with strong couples and people who live their commitment out loud. Put yourself in an encouraging place – Look around, ask yourself where marriage is valued and positive relationships are encouraged. If it’s your local church, then get involved as a family and do what it takes to get the encouragement that we all need.
- Get help: If you can take your car in for a 30,000 mile checkup, then why not your marriage? Counseling can be preventative; it’s not just for emergencies. Alternatively, join some kind of a support group where there is instruction, encouragement and accountability. We weren’t created to live alone, and we don’t have to solve our problems in a vacuum.
- Take care of your finances: Money problems are the #1 cause for marital discord. Make sure you and your wife are on the same page financially and then work hard to keep your heads above water.
- Tell your wife everything. Be an open book: What’s most important here is to be on the same page. Simply put, don’t engage in activity that sets the relationship up for additional stress. Be sensitive to your wife and be respectful of the boundaries you agree on. If you meet attractive people at work, make sure your wife is the first to know. If an old girlfriend initiates a contact via email, share the conversation with your wife. If you can’t talk about it in the open, then you don’t need to be doing it in the first place. Secrets are dangerous, period. Best friends talk about everything, and stuff that’s out in the fresh air of communication won’t have a dark place where it can grow mold.
- Spend time together. Relax and play: You got married because you wanted to be together – so be together already! Absence does NOT make the heart grow fonder; absence hurts. Hang out, play board games, go to dinner, garden, travel – you may fall in love all over again.
- Date on a regular basis: Don’t be boring; Get creative. You wanted to wow her back in the day – why stop just because you’re married? Remind one another how cool it is to be together. Taking one another for granted is like death by slow poisoning. Really, you can do better.
- Dream together: An ancient proverb says, “Without a vision, the people perish.” Try sharing your hopes and dreams with your spouse. Then listen. Dreaming together puts a positive future right in the middle of your struggling present.
- Make out: Did we really say that? Well, yes! If your wife doesn’t know that you still find her attractive, then do something about it ASAP. One of the primary reasons that men (and women) stray from their wedding vows is boredom. Don’t be that guy.
- Be intentional about your relationship: Remember the story of the sheep, the thoughtless munchers who simply nibbled themselves lost? Relationships can be a lot like that. It’s just an omission here, a slight there, a moment of indiscretion one day, a secret another. Nobody sets out to destroy a marriage – it just happens. Well who said it had to? Who decided that the primary relationship that anchors the family, the foundational building block of society, was less important than anything else in your life? Make a decision! Step up! Be intentional about making your marriage amazing.
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Huddle Up Question
What steps can we take now to make sure we never get a divorce?