Having a successful marriage is the hardest thing that the average person works to achieve. Going to war is harder, but the average person doesn’t go to war. Only about 1% of our population goes off to war. What makes marriages so hard is that we attract an opposite. If you like to save money, your spouse likes to spend it. If you like to sleep until 10 a.m., your spouse is most likely to want to get up around 5 or 6 a.m. with the hope that you will get up soon. These are just a couple of examples of how we can be opposites. Opposites attract because each person brings a unique set of qualities to make their marriage work. When the two become one we now have all the qualities to have a successful marriage.
We need our spouse’s positive qualities to have a successful marriage, but in that there is a problem. We are each flawed. Each of us comes with baggage from our pasts. Each of us have unrealistic expectations of our spouse, marriage, and even happiness. Our flaws tend to be different than our spouses’ flaws. When the two become one we now have all the flaws to make this marriage fail. In our society we are socialized to focus on our spouses’ flaws rather than or own. This is a recipe for divorce and why half of new marriages end in divorce.
Divorce rates don’t go down. Second marriages end in divorce around 67% of the time and 74% of third marriages in end in divorce. Fourth marriages divorce rates are in the 90% bracket and a fifth marriage is almost a guarantee of a fifth divorce. Marriages get harder because we are carrying more and more baggage from the past while using the same old strategies to cope with an opposite.
Counseling is an effective tool to help you remove baggage from the past and help you develop new strategies to have a successful marriage. Marriage can be one of the most rewarding aspects of our lives. To have a spouse to share our burdens and successes with, to have a spouse that is supportive and encouraging, to have a spouse where you feel you’re striving forward as a team means that you will most likely have better physical health, better psychological well-being, and more likely to live longer.
I encourage you to address baggage from your past. I encourage you to check out some of our recommended readings on our website. I encourage you to replace old ineffective coping strategies with proven strategies that work. Each of us deserves to have a healthy and loving marriage. You can, but it will be one of the hardest things you ever do.
Jeffrey Robbins, President, LCSW