Recently, my husband Gal and I celebrated 34 years of our life together. Every year that passes, I understand what marriage means and every year, I have more and more clients seeking coaching because they are considering divorce. The good news is that they look for solutions before they “turn off the lights and send the actors home”. The bad news is that they are in emotional turmoil and are very, very unhappy. If you have seen the movies Mrs. Doubtfire or Kramer vs. Kramer, you have probably had a glimpse of what it means to divorce, although a movie cannot describe even a small portion of the emotional stress people go through when they think about separating, not to mention what actually happens during this devastating process.
Marriage Problems are Caused by Unrealistic Expectations
The real challenge with divorce is that it is not a solution, because the problems after the divorce do not disappear. In fact, there is a good chance that the divorce will create even bigger problems. If you are not happy with your marriage and think divorce will make you happier, think again. Chances are you have attributed the marriage problems and failure to your spouse, but if it were only one person’s failure, life would be much easier.
Blaming someone else for your marriage problems and trying to change your partner instead of working on yourself sounds like a convenient way to handle stress, but in fact becomes long term pain. Walking away only seems easy. From my experience, divorced couples take their marriage problems with them to other relationships. To save your marriage and solve your marriage problems, the first step is to have realistic, reasonable expectations and demands regarding your marriage. If your expectations are irrational and unrealistic, you are likely to be disappointed and frustrated. This will make you behave unconsciously in a way that might lead to separation. Yes, what I am saying is that your own expectations can be the reason for (some of) the marriage problems and trigger separation.
Marriage Problems are Caused by Short Memory
Another reason for divorce is the couple’s short memory. For some reason, the same loving couple that vowed to support each other “in sickness and in health” have lost the enthusiasm somewhere between cleaning, cooking, shopping, going to work and raising children. When I ask couples about the most exciting days of their life, they look at each other with bashful smiles. They are so busy talking about the problems, they forget the blissful moments.
To solve your marriage problems, the second step is to have constant reminders of your promises to each other. Keep working on the relationship so the joyful memory of your relationship will not fade with washing the dishes, cleaning and working hard. If you don’t remember the good, you give more space, energy and focus to the bad. For a couple to be together and feel it is worth to stay together, the good needs to be more than the bad.
Marriage Problems are Caused by a “Disposable Relationship” Attitude
Our modern society has become used to everything being disposable. Our computers last for a year or two, we need to have the newest mobile phone, we change jobs often, throw things away after buying new ones and move houses more than was done in the past. Changing relationships seems to many people like part of this modern trend. Partners consider divorce as a way of getting out of the routine. We have a joke in our house that it seems as easy as changing your underwear. Living together with the same person seems boring and the need for excitement and change is not satisfied. But marriage is not a computer game, and you cannot just press “Escape” every time you feel like it. You don’t have 7 lives with the hope that if you play enough times, you will win the game. Unfortunately, getting a divorce has become so easy, people rush to get married and later on rush to call their lawyers and instruct them to initiate divorce proceedings. To solve your marriage problems, the third step is to make sure you have variety and excitement in other areas of your life and that you stop considering you relationship as just another gadget in your possession. Make sure you fuel the excitement with romantic dates, surprises and holidays and leave divorce as a last resort. It is important to understand that divorce has an ugly side to it and it is by far harder to do than to gain courage to save what deserves to be saved. Remember that you once loved that person that you now resent. Divorce destroys what takes years to nurture, and sadly, the only people who benefit from it are often greedy lawyers, who use every trick in the book to strip “the other side” of their assets, until no trace of the person’s investment – physical, financial or emotional – remains.
We have divorced friends and many clients with broken marriages and it is sad that while the couples spend their mental energies accusing each other of causing hurt and disharmony in the union, they forget that their children suffer in double and triple dosages. When I talk to them, they all understand that their kids’ emotional state is fragile and will be hard to mend later but they still go ahead with it. When people go through a marriage break-up, they are stressed and fearful that their kids’ needs are neglected. If you have kids and decide to make an effort to sort out your marriage problems and save your marriage, remember you are saving it for three or more human beings. What I have learned from working with so many couples who face marriage problems is that it is possible to bring back the love and excitement to the relationship. Happy relationships and happy marriages are the foundation of every family and family matters!