“In just 15 minutes of interaction, an expert can predict with a 90 percent degree of accuracy whether a couple will still be together in five years. That’s a pretty eye-opening statistic.” – Dave Elliott, Relationship Coach, and Behavioral Expert
An eye-opening statistic indeed, Mr. Elliott.
According to recent statistics, approximately 53% of all American marriages end in divorce – the 10th-highest percentage in the world. That’s right, 10th. Which countries’ “divorce-to-marriage ratio percentage” is higher, you ask?
9. France: 55%
7. Estonia: 58%
6. Luxembourg: 60%
5. Spain: 61%
4. Czech Republic: 66%
3. Hungary: 67%
2. Portugal: 68%
1. Belgium: 71%
(This author realizes the contention surrounding divorce metrics. The truth is that no measure – at least that I could find – passes muster for most statisticians, researchers, and scientists. That said, the divorce-to-marriage percentage ratio does take into account two essential pieces of information in its analysis: (1) actual marriage numbers, and (2) actual divorces expressed as a percentage of 1.)
Behind these figures are real human beings that have (and are) going through emotional pain and suffering. When researching for this article, this author (who is divorced) came upon statistics and information that can only be described as both deeply saddening and deeply troubling.
The truth is that many couples don’t comprehend the complexity of marriage before tying the knot. “Figuring it out” is not a very sound strategy for navigating the inevitable (mostly unexpected) challenges that arise during marriage.
So, why do people get divorced? Of course, this is a very nuanced question with – in the majority of cases – no simple answer. That said, we were able to compile a list of eight behaviors from reliable sources that may give us an idea to the former question.
Here are the eight behaviors that often lead to divorce:
Relationship experts state that the habit of assigning blame without facts or questioning is “one of the absolutely kisses of death in a marriage.” The sad thing is that this behavior is easily correctable by asking a question as opposed to making a statement. (“Why are you so late coming home?” vs “Out partying with your buddies again.”)
Giving your partner the benefit of the doubt, especially when they’ve earned it, is always good practice. If a behavior is unacceptable, a constructive dialogue is needed.
Family lawyers attest that many clients who file divorce papers have a partner with an addiction. Alcohol, drugs and compulsive behaviors (e.g. gambling) are all often cited on the record.
Alcohol, substance abuse and compulsive behaviors are all treatable conditions. That said, one consensus that addiction rehabilitation counselors, therapists, and other experts have reached is that treatment is only possible when the addict truly wants to quit.
Sadly, the number of untreated or relapsed addicts far exceeds those who remain in treatment or overcome their vices – often to the detriment of their marriage and family. Treatment options are available if the person is willing to try rehabilitation.
Estrangement is displayed in a variety of ways. The most prominent type of alienation is the refusal to confront an issue by ignoring or withdrawing from your partner. Estrangement is also seen as a form of abandonment; for example, getting angry at your spouse without explanation and slamming the front door as you leave.
Resolving issues is an inseparable part of a relationship. An inability or refusal to engage your partner in solving problems is the personification of immaturity and must be rectified.
Invalidation is another relationship-killer that involves “discrediting (your partner) or weakening them in some way.” This behavior is a twisted act of objectification that diminishes a person’s humanity by using any perceived negative aspects, assumptions, and prejudices. Invalidation involves bullying a person whom you’ve promised to love.
The only solution to invalidating behavior is to see one’s partner as a fallible human being, and one that deserves respect. Continuous invalidation is a form of sociopathy and is only present in highly dysfunctional relationships. Professional help and a genuine desire to change is the only recognized solution.
5. Control & Manipulation
Controlling and manipulative behavior is emotional abuse, plain and simple. While marriage does require compromise and willingness to sacrifice, control and manipulation are not an ethical means of ensuring this cohesion.
Controlling and manipulative people rarely change their behavior. Unfortunately, this dehumanizing behavior – more often than not – becomes worse over time. Couples therapists and marriage counselors are seen as a potential solution if the issue is handled early.
6. Misplaced priorities
Family. Job. Everything else. This is how most individuals in healthy relationships prioritize their lives.
When the family begins to take a backseat to anything, it’s time for a serious conversation. Extenuating circumstances (e.g. a heavier workload) should be clearly stated and understood by both individuals. If there is no explanation, marriage often deteriorates to the point where divorce is seen as the only option.
7. Poor communication
Put simply; good communication is the foundation of any healthy marriage. Many experts agree that many lost marriages could have been saved if spouses improved the ways they communicated with each other.
Erica Kroll, a licensed Marriage Counselor, cites three common communication mistakes between spouses:
– Yelling at your spouse: “…yelling goes way beyond the line. It sets the stage for an exchange of heated emotions rather than clearly communicated words.”
– Having a competitive attitude: “A person with emotional insecurities may overcompensate by trying to look superior to his or her spouse. (Some) competition is OK, but anything that isn’t mutual any playful could build a wall.”
– Making marriage about me instead of we: “Generosity and considerate behaviors can go a long way toward nurturing a great marriage. (But) don’t get caught up in the “what’s in it for me (trap).”
Habitual lying about anything can be detrimental to a marriage. It doesn’t matter if it’s lying about a small credit card charge, or “forgetting” about the exact time to be somewhere important.
If you lied about something, be an adult and admit it. If you’ve been habitually lying, be an adult and admit it. There is no other option than to be honest – which should have been the first course of action.
Elliott, D. (2014). The 4 Things That Will Break Up Your Relationship. Psych Central. Retrieved May 15, 2017, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/06/25/the-4-things-that-will-break-up-your-relationship/
Krull, E. (2016). Marriage Communication: 3 Common Mistakes and How To Fix Them. Psych Central. Retrieved May 15, 2017, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/marriage-communication-3-common-mistakes-and-how-to-fix-them/
Wikipedia (2017). Divorce Demography. Retrieved May 15, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divorce_demography
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