No one gets married with the intention of eventually getting a divorce.  We all want to buy into that optimistic dream of living happily ever after.  After all, who wants a divorce?  Divorce can be traumatic, expensive, it can tear apart a home, affect children for the rest of their lives, and send some people into poverty (usually women).

There are lots of reasons why marriages go sour–way too many to list in this article.  According to the latest research*, the top three reasons couples divorce are:

  1. lack of commitment
  2. infidelity
  3. too much conflict and arguing

Recently I wrote a research paper on what happy couples do to create a lifetime of love (get ready for lots of interesting, informative articles on the website!).  Even though the current divorce rate hovers at around 50% (50% of all marriages will end in divorce), I am optimistic that if couples are provided with the right tools and information, they can succeed in marriage.  

Don Nenninger and Nicole NenningerA little background:  I am blessed–I have a wonderful marriage.  Now.  As many of you know, my first marriage ended in divorce.  Like a ball of yarn, I remember it unravelling much too quickly in the end. My ex and I went to two therapists and nothing seemed like it was working.  I was willing to do anything or pay anything to save my marriage.  I was desperate and I was scared.  I didn’t have a job.  I didn’t even have a college degree.  The last thing I wanted was to get a divorce.  After 17 years of investment in that marriage, the partnership dissolved in a flash the day I found some emails–the emails that explained so much of what was going on and why all the counseling in the world wouldn’t help us at that point–even though I begged him to stay (read my book, Transforming Divorce, to find out more about my story).  So, like any major traumatic event in your life, this became a significant learning opportunity for me.  To help me in my process, I put a tremendous amount of time and effort going to therapy on my own (which I began even before the marriage counseling had started).  I worked on myself before I even got involved in a new relationship. One of the keys to having a great relationship is that you need to know who you are and what your issues are.  Many people walk around with giant, open wounds–wounds that make it very hard to get close to others.

You cannot expect a relationship to heal you; you heal yourself from the inside out.  ~Don & Nicole Nenninger, The Secrets of Loving Relationships.

The research (and my story) mentioned above indicates symptoms of marriages going awry.  Most couples do not start out with a lack of commitment, intentions of cheating, or inundating their interactions with negativity.   How do marriages end up this way?  What goes wrong?  And, what are some ways you can divorce-proof your marriage?  Stay tuned for next week’s article!

References

*Scott, S. B., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., Allen, E. S., & Markman, H. J. (2013). Reasons for divorce and recollections of premarital intervention: Implications for improving relationship education. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 2(2), 131-145. doi:10.1037/a0032025

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