Relationship sins such as drug abuse, domestic violence, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, verbal abuse, out-of-control gambling, infidelity, pose extreme challenges to maintaining a cohabiting relationship with another individual.
The offending partner has the possibility of straightening himself or herself out. However, doing so requires an ironclad decision and determination to succeed.
Not everyone is up to this task of ‘becoming a better person’ leaving the victim-partner having to make the difficult decision about whether he or she should remain in the relationship.
Most couples who divorce do not experience the above problems. Rather, their challenge is getting along with each other harmoniously and respectfully.
Hi this is Abe Kass MA RSW RMFT CCHT,
Working as a professional marriage and family therapist with people from all backgrounds and situations for over 25 years, I have learned a lot about families. I know for a fact that for most couples and families 'divorce' is a disaster!
If divorce can be prevented, I encourage you to make every effort to repair your marriage or committed relationship and stay together. Keep reading... using scientific evidence I will explain why.
Fortunately, most couples have never experienced relationship threatening trauma such as infidelity, emotional abuse, or domestic violence. With a 'smart' effort their marriage or committed relationship can be enhanced and they can remain together and live happy and meaningful lives. If your marriage or committed relationship falls into this category, I encourage you to try.
Even if your relationship has been traumatized by "relationship sins," I encourage you to carefully assess your situation to see if you can find a way to save your marriage or committed relationship.
Divorce is harmful to all. Read what science has to say about divorce and living in a bad marriage or committed relationship. Then consider the options and opportunities to become, together with your partner, Committed Relationship and marriage builders.
The first step to answering this question about whether or not you should get divorced is to educate yourself. Learn the scientific facts about divorce.
Caution: Beware of bad advice. Many have acted on the advice of unqualified "helpers" and have ended up divorced, miserable, and in a worse situation!
Sometimes friends, family members, clergy, lawyers, therapists trained to work with individuals, and others offer advice to individuals trying to decide whether to divorce or remain in a bad relationship. This advice — well intended or not — is not to be trusted. Only a caring, qualified, and trained relationship expert can give you valued advice on what are your relationship options.
The take-away: Only get relationship advice from credible sources as you would medical or dental advice.
To ‘just stay’ in a painful, unhappy, and unsatisfying relationship should not be an option as explained below.
If you are considering divorce and you have children, you need to understand that in most situations divorce does not end the relationship between you and your partner.
Instead, divorce starts a lifestyle change that maintains itself for years.
When the two adults in the family want to maintain a relationship with their children, a divorce keeps these two individuals connected — whether or not they like it. And, more often than not, ‘they do not like it.’
When there are children, divorced parents often need to communicate, plan, and even cooperate as part of their parenting responsibilities — this continues even when the children become adults.
Yes, there is such a thing called a “good divorce,” where two divorced parents remain civil with each other and cooperate for the benefit of their children. And for those couples that divorce, this should be the goal.
However, entering into a divorce is risky, and it is impossible to calculate what your relationship will be like with your partner in a few years.
You will not know whether you have a “good divorce” or a “bad divorce” until you arrive in your future.
If you have children, a divorce does not get the “bad partner” out of your life. In fact, in some ways, he or she may even have more influence given there will be times he or she has exclusive access of the children and their lives.
If this is not frightening enough, consider your partner remarrying or re-coupling and how this new individual will parent your children — the stepparent may be kind, or he or she may be cruel!
There is so much risk involved, and there is no way to calculate what the results may be until you arrive there at a future date that.
Divorce is complicated and fraught with anticipated and unanticipated risk: Physical, mental, financial, social, sexual, legal, and work complications are all the norm.
On average, single individuals have 20% more occurrences of heart disease, diabetes, or cancer, and 23% more likely to have mobility problems.
Interestingly, remarried individuals also report significantly worse health than compared to those individuals who have continuously been married.
Divorced individuals have a poorer prognosis for those diseases they suffer from.
Divorced individuals experience more anxiety, depression, and loneliness than do people cohabiting within a committed relationship.
Divorce is a health risk comparable to smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, and physical inactivity.
Those individuals who were divorced or widowed and did not remarry have shown to have worse health than those individuals who are living in a committed relationship.
The period before divorce, during the process of divorce, and until the divorce is finally implemented and all the extenuating legal issues resolved can take many years.
This divorce process can completely drain you emotionally with fighting, accusations and financially with spousal support, child support, therapy, assessments, and legal fees.
For most members of the family, these are years of stress, uncertainty, anger, and emotional pain. And often, some issues are never resolved in spite of time and effort and remain an ongoing source of pain and resentment.
Fortunately, for most stressed couples the goal should be to fix the relationship problems and stay together as a family.
Doing so is reasonable and affords the greatest possibility of a positive outcome.
We will now discuss committed relationship distress and conclude with what you can do to fix it.
When there is marital or committed relationship distress, it should be the goal of every couple to avoid separation and divorce.
If the relationship includes “relationship sins” as itemized above such as cheating or emotional abuse, the challenges stay together will be much more difficult. However, it may be possible with effort and commitment to do so.
People can change themselves for the better. Look around and you will find many examples of individuals who have reformed their lives and become far better individuals than they had been in the past.
If you decide to stick with your partner because you have decided getting divorced is not a reasonable option, you should also conclude that living in a bad marriage or committed relationship is also not a reasonable option.
Living in relationship conflict and stress is extremely harmful and not a reasonable alternative to divorce. Instead, the only sane thing to do is to repair your relationship.
You may not make your relationship perfect, but you can make it good enough so that it is far better than either divorcing or living in a bad marriage or committed relationship.
We have discussed how damaging divorce may be. Let’s now use scientific research and data to prove how harmful it is to stay in a stressful marriage or committed relationship.
Worldwide statistics show that 85% of people enter into a committed relationship by the age of 50 regardless of culture, country, or religion.
Scientists suggest that being in a committed relationship is an evolutionary driven urge.
Even though committed relationships are common, many couples experience relationship stress. In the United States, 31% of married couples characterize their relationship at any given time as distressed.
Typically, this relationship stress remains unless there is treatment to fix the specific problems.
Researchers have found that committed relationship distress is a significant factor in poor physical and mental health.
Relationship distress can lead to poor physical health.
Researchers speculate that one of the reasons for this result is that poor quality relationships may lead to risky health behaviors such as smoking, using drugs, using alcohol, poor eating, and inadequate sleep.
Relationship researchers drawing from a comprehensive meta-analytic review from 126 studies show that marital discord was predictive of chronic fatigue, lower immune functioning, ulcers, chronic pain, atherosclerosis, hypertension, cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
The link between relationship distress and poor health is so strong that they identified it as a greater risk factor for health problems than smoking or drinking alcohol.
One study found a significant association between committed relationship distress and increased hospital and doctors' office visits., for these individuals, there was an increase in using medication.
Researchers have documented that relationship distress is associated with an increase in the utilization of mental health services.
Adults in distressed relationships were 70% more likely to seek mental health services than adults in non-distressed relationships.
In particular, those individuals in stressed relationships had a 40% more likelihood of experiencing anxiety, a mood disorder, or substance abuse disorder, than those individuals in happy relationships.
Infidelity and domestic violence, in particular, are significant predictors of major depression.
Relationship distress is predictive of a 69% greater likelihood of an anxiety disorder compared to happily married individuals.
Children whose parents divorce often witness many negative interactions between their parents before and after the separation.
Children are traumatized by a convergence of many negative factors which affect their physical and mental health.
Children of divorced parents are at a higher risk for poor physical health, engaging in risky behaviors, drug use, and sexual promiscuity.
In one study, approximately 20 to 25 percent of children experience long-term adjustment problems, compared to roughly 10 percent of children in first-marriage families.
A parent's stress, anxiety, anger, and loneliness impacts negatively on his or her children. A parent fearful of the future cannot be fully present in a child’s daily life.
Research shows that children with problems caused by divorce last for a very long time.
Adult children of divorced parents suffer from higher rates of depression and have more emotional problems than the normal population.
In some tragic cases, children lose their access to their father.
In one British national survey, it was discovered that one-quarter of children living with their single mother had not seen their fathers the previous year.
When one parent leaves the family the quality of parent typically changes for the worst. Instead of two adults caring for the children, there is now one. And often the sole parent is overwhelmed and resentful.
Because of the family breaking apart children may lose access to grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins.
Research shows that some children benefit when their parent’s separate when the conflict has occurred in their presence, and this conflict is traumatizing.
On the other hand, when the relationship conflict has been concealed from the children, typically divorce has a greater negative impact upon them.
Without a doubt when parents repair their broken marriage or committed relationship children are the primary beneficiaries.
Fixing a broken marriage or committed relationship should be 'Plan-A' (your first choice) — this should be your preferred solution to relationship conflict, stress, and trauma.
Plan-A is not always possible. However, you should at least try with sincerity, effort, commitment and when possible with the assistance of a qualified relationship specialist.
Research has shown the effectiveness of couple therapy for decreasing relationship stress.
Positive change is reported by 70% of couples who took part in relationship therapy.
Research suggests that the gains achieved during couple therapy last for months and even years following treatment completion. The evidence for the efficacy of couple therapy is strong.
The therapist you are considering working with must have specialized relationship training. Unfortunately, far too many “relationship therapists” have no academic training or supervision working with couples.
Therapist trained to work with individuals are not qualified to work with couples. These therapists have trained to work with individuals who are depressed, anxious, or have mood or personality disorders — not with couples that have “relationship problems.”
‘Two individuals’ do not make a couple!... A couple is a third entity with its own dynamics and only a couple’s therapist trained in systemic therapy can effectively help individuals who require help with their marriage or committed relationship.
For couples who do not have access to couple therapy, or in addition to couple therapy, acquiring relationship education should be seriously considered.
Couple education typically works with couples during a period when they are getting along. This is what distinguishes it from couple therapy.
Couple education addresses relationships from an educational point of view teaching communication, problem-solving, household management, and intimacy etc.
There is a strong correlation between couples education and positive outcome.
Research has shown that those couples that have engaged in relationship education have improved problem-solving skills, lower levels of marital violence, and report improved relationship satisfaction which leads to a diminished likelihood of divorce.
Here are three well-established researched based couple education programs. They offer classes and online services:
There has been much research that proves the efficacy of reading self-help books and doing home exercises to help a person improve their mood and overcoming such conditions as depression, OCD, and anxiety.
Unfortunately, very little research has been done regarding the effectiveness of self-help and relationship improvement.
However, the anecdotal evidence is conclusive that many thousands of people have improved their relationships by reading helpful guides on how to build a healthy marriage or committed relationship.
This website, www.GoSmartLife.com offers you many vetted books and workbooks to help you improve your relationship — some of which have been written by the author of this article.
Using the relationship aids available at www.GoSmartLife.com you can find books that targets your relationship developmental needs such as anger control, assertiveness, and effective communication and there are books on how to improve interpersonal interactions and intimacy between you and your partner.
All of these approaches — which are determined by your individual and relationship needs — will help you create a healthy, happy, and long-lasting marriage or committed relationship.
Relationship self-help has been available for years. However, some material has been written by unqualified individuals.
Only those individuals who are academically trained, certified by appropriated governing bodies, and have practical experience working with couples are qualified to advise you on how to fix a marriage or committed relationship and establish long-term peace and harmony.
Wishing you and your family the best,
Marriage and family therapist, Abe Kass MA RSW RMFT CCHT
Journal of Marital and Family Therapy
July 2018, volume 44, number three titled, The Case For Insurance Reimbursement Of Couple Therapy, Bringham Young University, Robb E. Clawson, and others.
Wiley Online Library
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https://www.wellness.com/reference/conditions/marital-distress/symptoms-and-causes [retrieved January 2, 2019]
Pew Research Center
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/02/13/8-facts-about-love-and-marriage [retrieved January 2, 2019]
https://www.factretriever.com/divorce-facts [retrieved January 2, 2019]
JRank Site Search Engine
http://family.jrank.org/pages/413/Divorce.html [retrieved January 2, 2019]
American Psychological Association
https://www.apa.org/research/action/marital.aspx [retrieved January 7, 2019]
Cambridge University Press
https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/bibliotherapy [retrieved January 7, 2019]
The Wall Street Journal
https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB118583572352482728 [retrieved January 7, 2019]
A successful marriage or committed relationship is a science. A successful marriage or committed relationship is not chemistry, luck, or genetics. When you know 'how,' you can build a great connection with your partner. In this book, The 8 Marriage Rules for a Passionate Marriage, you will learn the eight most essential rules that when followed will lead to friendship, respect, love, and passion.
Additional supportive books below:
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The author, John Gottman has been in the research trenches long enough to have 'discovered' what makes relationships work. This book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, present the lessons learned by the author in from his "Love Lab" where he and colleagues observed couples in action. Marriage is a science. As such, this book is one of the foremost instruction manuals on how to build a positive relationship.
Anger is the primary cause of marital conflict and divorce. Protect the love you and your partner have — keep anger far away. This simple and easy to use program will dramatically help you eliminate or reduce anger. This program has already been successfully used by thousands of individuals.
Don't let others take advantage of you. If you do, you will be resentful and angry. Don't expect your partner to be a "mind-reader" and know what you want. Learn to "speak-up" and get your get the cooperation you need to get your legitimate needs.
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There are many convoluted and wordy anger management books in the marketplace! There is "only one" that is simple, easy to use, and gets straight to the point — Anger Management Workbook with anger management worksheets — this is the anger management book that has it all!
Authoritative Parenting is the most critical part of parenting. Use whatever good parenting strategy you want. However, if you are NOT an authoritative parent you will fail in your application since you will be unable to influence your child or teen. Learn how to organize your family into a peaceful and cooperative community.
Assertive behavior means knowing how to successfully say “no” and how to get for yourself that which is reasonable. However, if you do not have “ assertive behavior” you will be stressed, frustrated, and for some, this can lead to acute anxiety and chronic depression.
Here is a collection of free marriage counseling and committed relationship self-help tools for you to use to prevent divorce and make your marriage or committed relationship healthy, loving, happy and long-lasting. Benefit from these relationship building tools; make your family a wonderful place to live. Marriage Builders are not perfect — but they are happier!
Our "relationship tools and resources" are listed in the following sequence to help you find what you need:
1 - Videos
2 - Quizzes
3 - Guides
4 - Essential Information
Learn about the health of your marriage or committed relationship and what areas you and your partner — as Marriage Builders — need to improve.
Excessive anger is the primary cause of marital and committed relationships
Relationship Map GPS will help you identify deficiencies in your relationship and give you tools to strengthen these areas of your relationship.
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Identifying anger is key to controlling it. Learn some of the many 'faces' of anger as an aid to anger management.