We are frequently asked about why couples divorce. Our usual answer is focused on what couples do within their marriage that eventually leads to them living separate lives in the same home. The reasons commonly blamed for divorce, such as infidelity and financial issues, are really symptoms of the marital challenges already experienced in the marriage.
However, there are some distinct societal pressures on couples that we believe contribute to the high divorce rate. They do not cause divorces, but they help make them easier to achieve which paves the way for a higher divorce rate.
- We have errantly made marriage about happiness. Marriage for centuries has been about families. Research is clear that the best place to raise a child is in a healthy family with her mother and father. In the past couple of decades, we find that individuals desire to be happy has replaced the primary purpose of marriage. Every day we are bombarded with between 3,000 and 20,000 impressions through marketing, most of which tell us that the only way we can be valued, happy or sexy is if we possess their produce or service. Any happy person who experiences such unrelenting messages would eventually wonder if they are really happy or not. Pursuit of the inevitable transitory and elusive state of being called happiness contributes to the declined of couples remaining committed to a lifelong monogamous relationship historically called marriage.
- When we are not happy in our relationship, we look for advice in all the wrong places. Americans are great at telling others about their problems. And when there is a struggle in a marriage, almost everyone is brought in for their opinion. We talk to our siblings, a parent, our hair dresser, the stranger in line behind us, our best friend, and coworkers about the problem instead of talking to our spouse about it. When someone is standing in front of you telling their problem, you feel obliged to honor them by supporting them. You tell them, “no one should be treated that way. You shouldn’t put up with that.” Or you ask a search engine to answer the question for you. What you get is advice from womens or mens magazines, jilted lvoers and those without similar values to you. Armed with support from your friends and bad advice from the internet, you determine that you have a horrible problem and that it is your spouse. We do not do that with any other problem. Who calls their best friend for accounting advice, or legal advice, or how to repair a mechanical or electrical problem. No, instead you call professionals. Not looking for advice from relationship professionals when you are not happy in your marriage contributes to the current divorce rate.
- When we finally ask for marital help, it is too little too late. According to the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, approximately 50% of married couples in distress who enter therapy actually end up staying together. One of the reasons is that the marriage relationship is in such poor shape by the time they call. The couple is already living separately or one or both have already contacted an attorney before the first call to a competent counselor is made. The analogy is like a patient who is bleeding out dropping into the family physician instead of heading into the emergency room. The traditional way of treating marriage problems is one or two sessions per week. The amount of change that occurs is usually so slow that couples give up before they get healed up. That is one of the reasons why we developed the Marriage Intensive, which is like have an ER experience in that it is one couple with us for a whole day (or more if needed). Couples waiting until the relationship is so broken to ask for help is one of the reasons why the divorce rate is as high as it is.
- The divorce industry is motivated solely by profit. We are not against profit and we believe lawyers have the right to make money. But the $50 BILLION annual divorce industry is solely motived by profit. Other for-profit professionals that work with families take what is called the Hippocratic Oath. Simply stated, the rule is “First do no harm.” But not the divorce industry. Instead of helping families do what is best for their client or what is best for the children, the divorce industry is motivated by moving the family’s assets into their coffers. They do that not only by using the tactics of used car salesmen to talk a person who calls for information into filing, but also through setting up the divorce so that divorcing parents must return to the court over and over again about child support/visitation issues. More than 1 in 10 couples who divorce remarry each other. That’s right, 10% never should have gone through the divorce to begin with if it hadn’t been for the unscrupulous but legal practices within the divorce industry. The way the divorce industry works in this country contributes to the high divorce rate.
- Spouses believe the choice is between living stuck in a bad marriage or filing for divorce. An unhappy and discouraged spouse feels stuck in a bad marriage. Many Christian spouses who are unhappy in their marriage have told us that they think God has sentenced them to their bad marriage and if they divorce, then they have to leave God. But the premise is wrong. There is a third choice. That choice is to get professional and competent help to make their marriage the lifelong love they have always dreamed about. The cost of getting competent help may seem large, but it is much cheaper than the financial costs of going through a divorce, where the initial retainer fee is between $3,000-$5,000. And it is be financially difficult to work through the issues in order to build a great marriage, but it is less emotionally difficult than divorcing and the after-effects. In fact, almost 80% of couples who sought help during a marriage crisis were happier in their marriage five years later. More than half of the individuals who divorced during a marriage crisis wished that they had not done it five years later. Believing the choice is simply between being stuck in a bad marriage or filing for divorce contributes to the high divorce rate.
We have worked with well over one hundred couples in Marriage Intensives, a special process of healing for a couple in distress, and received testimonials about how their marriages are better than they ever thought possible. Over 85% of couples in marital crisis have stayed together because they went through the Marriage Intensive.
We encourage you to take action against these five societal reasons of divorce. If you hear of a couple in distress or a marriage that is struggling, do not stand by and watch the family tear apart. Stand up for healthy marriages by sharing the truth about how couples can build the marriage that they have always wanted. Be a guardian and champion of marriage. Get the couple the information they need and help them find competent Christian help for making their marriage healthy again.
This article was written by Roy and Devra Wooten, authors of “The Secret to a Lifetime Love”. Learn more at www.LifeTogetherForever.com © Roy and Devra Wooten 2015. All Rights Reserved. You may replicate this article as long as it is provided free to recipients and includes appropriate attribution. Written permission for other use may be obtained at Secret@LifeTogetherForever.com.