Truth: Unhappily married adults who divorced or separated were no happier, on average, than unhappily married adults who stayed married. Even unhappy spouses who had divorced and remarried were no happier, on average, than unhappy spouses who stayed married. This was true even after controlling for race, age, gender, and income.
No marriage begins thinking it will ever end in the dreaded “D” word. Divorce. Even the thought of divorce generates such a negative reaction that most people cringe at the thought of it. Unfortunately, to many couples have decided to go down the path of divorce due to “irreconcilable differences”, or because they have simply “fallen out of love”.
Let’s be clear. We are not talking about a divorce as a result of domestic violence, sexual assault, or any type of physical or emotional abuse. We are narrowing our focus on whether divorce is an option if you don’t feel as though you don’t love your spouse any more, and over time you feel as though you have drifted apart from each other.
Unfortunately, divorce has become an acceptable option for couples that either don’t know how to rekindle their relationship, or believe that they won’t be able to be happy with their spouse. But many people forget the process that got them to fall in love in the first place. Happiness in marriage just doesn’t happen automatically.
Here are 3 things to help strengthen your relationship:
- Get out of Debt (I’m not talking about $). If you were to think of your relationship like money, and realize that every action or non-action is a transaction. Each transaction is either adding to the balance in your “relationship account”, or it is a withdrawal from it. When you see that the current state of your marriage is the result of daily transactions, you’ll see that every day you have the choice to make a deposit to build or rekindle what was lost. How long it takes to rekindle the relationship has a variety of factors. You may be in a relationship that has a negative balance and every morning wake up with another insufficient fund charge! If that is the case, it will take more than an apology and flowers to make things right. In fact, you will have a lot of work to do to simply get back to a zero balance. You can only build the relationship once “payment” has been made to make things right again. Rebuilding trust doesn’t happen over night, but it does happen if you truly want to win their heart.
- Build Relational Equity. Being consistent in your words and actions with your spouse will over time build relational equity with them. In accounting and finance, equity is simply the residual value after all liabilities are paid. In relationships, relational equity is the residual value of the relationship after every negative word or action has been paid. Think of it this way, the higher your relational equity balance, the more negative things can happen but still have a relationship that both parties want to be in. The way you build relational equity is the same as what you did to build the relationship in the first place. Spending time together, making each other feel special, deferring to each other, etc. Spending time investing in each other will build the equity balance in your relationship.
- Invest for the Future. After talking to men and couples around the country, it amazes me to see how many couples don’t take the time to invest in their relationships. The investment could be as simple as a monthly date night, or an annual get-a-way to renew, and recharge your relationship. We are talking about a dedicated time giving each other undivided attention. Failure to make any investments in your relationship over time can turn your relationship into feeling more like cohabitation, or living with a room-mate rather than living with the love of your life. You may need to make an investment in talking to a counselor to work through issues that may be recurring issues in the relationship. Getting sound advice can give both of you tools to engage each other constructively to work through any unresolved issues. One thing you can be sure of, if you don’t make any investment, it you won’t see much growth.