Cindy was sitting on the other side of the couch with tears running down her face. “When I told my best friend Lisa about my unhappy marriage, she told me I should look into what it would cost for a divorce and handed me a phone number of the attorney she used.”
“All I wanted was for Lisa to give me some support.” Cindy made that call to the attorney’s office who’s sales focused incoming calls receptionist talked her into a face to face, no obligation, free meeting with them to learn more about it. During the appointment, the divorce attorney’s staff focused on the problems in the marriage and encouraged her to proceed with signing them as her representation just in case things ever proceeded.
Heather and Joe showed up for their scheduled Marriage Intensive almost and hour late. Heather was tired before we started the first process. She had been up since 5 AM when her 18 month old couldn’t sleep any longer. It took longer than expected to get three young children to her parents for the day. She was operating on fumes.
Stuck In A Pattern Of Interacting
Like every one of the three hundred plus couples we have taken through the Marriage Intensive, Heather and Joe were stuck in a negative pattern of interaction. Joe felt like he was not important or valued in the marriage as he experienced her unavailability for conversation, time together, affection, and physical intimacy.
Heather felt like she was not enough as a woman and not good enough as a wife and mother as she experienced any un-affirming remark he made as criticism of anything that she had done to take care of their young children and the domestic chores of the home.
Lisa was about to explode. Her husband of 8 years came home early from work, plopped down on the couch and asked, “what’s for supper?” After a full day of caregiving for her 18 month old and kindergartner, she was tired and stressed. And his first communication with her was one that really pushed her buttons.
Full body attention is how we tell our spouse they are the most important and highest priority in our world in that moment.
Franklin was so tired of her complaining. “I work 10-12 hours a day and when I get home I have to take care of the chores around the house. By the time I get to finally rest, she’s griping at me to spend time with her romantically and it feels like another chore.”
When he and Jamie came in for their Marriage Intensive, it was true that she wanted more emotional and physical connection with him. She wanted to date and to travel as they did earlier in their twenty-five year long marriage. She worked from home and took care of most of her chores and connecting with friends before he returned from work. “I feel like everything is more important to him than me.”
Setting Up A Life With No Thought About Relationship
We have been impressed with the incredible research that has come out of the Gottman Institute about relationships. We buy into one of his key theories: The health of the relationship can be determined by the small and larger interactions between spouses as one “bids” for the connection of the other and the other responds by either moving toward, away or against.
No Attempts To Connect
During the course of the relationship, there are many daily attempts to connect made by each spouse. The absence of attempts to connect usually means the relationship is in an unhealthy state.
In every interaction with your spouse, you will move toward, move away or move against.
The choice you make in how your interaction with your spouse is a critical key indicator to the success of your marriage. John Gottman’s research indicates that divorced spouses reported that they ignored, or turned away from, their spouse’s attempts to connect between 50 and 82 percent of attempts, while couples who made it ignored their spouse’s attempts to connect only between 14 and 19 percent of the time.
Three Choices of Interaction With Your Spouse
As a society we are failing at relationships!
As a society, there is no other conclusion to make. Relationships as a whole in America are unhealthy and unsuccessful. According to the data, the divorce rate has plateaued at 50%. That is somewhat deceiving because around 70% of first time marriages actually make it. The older set bends these numbers upward.
Less than half of second time marriages actually make it. And about a third of third time marriages make it.
We had a great time as the guests on a conference call with marriage ministers and marriage counselors from all across the globe. One pastor asked the question, “What are the few things I can tell couples that will get their stale marriages moving in the right direction?”
We believe that every can take action now, immediately, to make their marriage better, stronger, and closer. Here is how we answered the question and what we recommend every couple do to move toward each other and the marriage they deeply desire.
Ways To Move Toward Your Spouse
One study several years ago found that people who report they are Christians are just as likely to divorce as those who didn’t. Headlines online and in print read that you are just as likely to divorce if you are a Christian than if you are not.
Church is great for your marriage!
Let us consider how to inspire each other to greater love and to righteous deeds, not forgetting to gather as a community, as some have forgotten, but encouraging each other, especially as the day of His return approaches. Hebrews 10:24-25 (Voice)
However, a deeper look into the matter by several other studies found that those couples who regularly attend church together are 46% less likely to get divorced compared to only 10% less likely if they occasionally go to church together.
Further, studies have found that couples not going to church at all are twice as likely to get divorced as those who attend church regularly together. So practicing Christianity, as evidenced by attending church services regularly, is much more powerful in keeping your marriage together than just believing Jesus is your Savior.
Why church is great for your marriage!
If you are like us, you hear often about how many people are getting divorce. People say that marriage rates are above 50% and worse than they have ever been. We have even heard some people declare that there are more single people in America than there are married people.
Most of the relationship advice and marriage statistics that you hear from your friends or so-called “Relationship Expert” bloggers are just not accurate and are dangerous to your marriage.
What The Research Says
Since the 1980’s, divorce rates have been dropping among all age groups, except older people.
According to a review of national statistics, people who are still in their first marriage at 46 years of age are: