Hi, this is Couple Therapist 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!
Children almost always suffer when there is a divorce. Remarriage? Creating a blended family with your new partner's children or your partner building a relationship with your children, and the children of each partner forming a relationship is a daunting task that many fail!
If divorce can be prevented, I encourage you to make every effort to repair your marriage or committed relationship and stay together. Keep reading... I will explain why.
With a reasonable effort most marriages or committed relationships can be fixed and the partners can live happy and meaningful lives together.
Even if your relationship has been traumatized by 'relationship sins' such as infidelity and abuse (once your situation is safe), I encourage you to carefully assess your situation to see if you can find a way to save your relationship.
Divorce is harmful to all! Accepting a bad a marriage or committed relationship is also harmful to all! And for most people, living alone is not wanted and has been documented that it is also unhealthy! That is why it is better to fix relationship problems and stay together.
Learn more what relationship science has to say about divorce or living in a bad marriage or bad committed relationship. Then consider your options and opportunities to build a better relationship with the person you are with — who may also be the mother or father of your child(ren).
If you need direct assistance from a experienced professional you can learn more about my couple and family therapy practice.
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.
On average, single individuals have 20% more occurrences of heart disease, diabetes, or cancer, and are 23% more likely to have mobility problems.
Interestingly, when remarried individuals are compared to individuals who have been continuously married, it was noted that the remarried individuals report significantly worse health.
Divorced individuals have a poorer prognosis for the diseases from which they suffer.
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 due to fighting and accusations. It can drain you financially through 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.
For most unhappy 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.
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 problems caused by divorce last for a very long time in a child's life.
Adult children of divorced parents suffer from higher rates of depression and have more emotional problems than adults whose parents stayed together in a committed relationship or marriage.
In some tragic cases, children lose their access to their father or mother.
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 parenting 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.
When a family breaks apart children may lose access to grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Research shows that some children benefit when their parents 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, their children are the primary beneficiaries.
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 stressed.
Typically, this relationship distress 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 it has been identified 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 doctor 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 distressed 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.
When there is marital or committed relationship distress, it should still be the goal of every couple to avoid separation and divorce.
If the relationship includes 'relationship sins' such as cheating or emotional abuse, the challenges to stay together will be much more difficult. However, it may be possible with effort and commitment to do so.
People can change 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 distress is extremely harmful and is 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 a far better option than either divorcing or living in a bad marriage or bad committed relationship.
We have discussed how damaging divorce may be, and how harmful it is to stay in a stressful marriage or stressful committed relationship, now let's look at a solution.
Fixing a broken marriage or committed relationship should be 'Plan-A' (your first choice) — this should be your preferred solution to relationship conflict, distress, 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 distress.
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. Those therapists have trained to work with individuals who are depressed, anxious, or have mood or personality disorders — not with couples who 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. Looking for a qualified relationship therapist?
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 skills, household management, and intimacy etc.
There is a strong correlation between couple education and positive outcome.
Research has shown that those couples who have engaged in relationship education have improved problem-solving skills, have lower levels of marital discord, 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 reading self-help books and relationship improvement.
However, the anecdotal evidence is conclusive that many thousands of people have improved their relationships by reading helpful books or guides on how to build a healthy marriage or committed relationship.
Go the Divorce Section of our Web Site click on Power Tools to see many vetted books to help you improve your relationship — some of which have been written by the author of this article. It is important that the books you read are written by qualified individuals, as there are many books written on the topic.
Using the relationship aids available at www.GoSmartLife.com you can find books that target your relationship needs such as anger control, assertiveness training, and effective communication. There are also 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.
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
Want to learn even about separation and divorce?
Free Divorce Guide with the 11-facts you need to know before you decide! FREE Divorce Guide immediate download.
Do you want to find the right mental health professional to help you decide when you should get divorced? FREE and immediate download.
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
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jmft.12263 [retrieved January 2, 2019]
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]
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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.
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