Marriage, like many other areas of life, is not to be entered lightly. Unfortunately,
many, if not most marriages do not live up to the expectations that were
anticipated at their beginning. There can be many reasons for this, but we will be
exploring three of the top reasons that people who are married are really
divorced, and what can be done to help correct this problem.
We should never have gotten married to begin with.
The process of choosing someone we would like to marry is not an easy one. We
date people to see if we are compatible with each other in a variety of areas.
Areas we look for compatibility include food we like to eat, music we like to listen
to, activities we like to participate in, spiritual practices we like to observe and
cultural, or family traditions we like to participate in, to name a few.
Other items that are very important comes down to simply how we are wired. Do
we like to touch and be touched, is it important to spend most of our time
together, do we like to do things for people and have things done for us, do we
like to compliment people and be complimented in return, and do we like to give
things to other people and have things given to us, or not.
Of course, one last item that is very important is the physical attraction and
passion we have for that person.
When it comes to choosing someone we want to marry, we usually do a very
good job with the physical attraction part, and then fail miserably when it comes
to the other areas. Physical attraction and passion are very important, however
when that is what the marriage is built upon, it is destined to fail miserably. No
amount of physical attraction and passion can stand up to people who are not
compatible or do not have the same wiring in how they interact with others.
In fact, the physical relationship will mask the other issues for a while. This
usually lasts just long enough for the two people to become very comfortable
with each other, and for the people around them to become comfortable with the
idea of these two people being together. When this happens, even though the
relationship is not what either hoped for, it has become very comfortable for all
concerned and the thought of hurting the other person, or the people around
them makes it too difficult to end the relationship, only to postpone doing so until
later, or choosing to just exist together, which is as if they are not married at all.
We want to change them to be like us
One of the interesting things in the process of choosing someone to marry, is
often, we choose someone that is very different than we are. This is actually a
very positive thing, if we can still check the other boxes of compatibility and
wiring in interacting with others.
This desire to choose someone very different than ourselves makes perfect sense
when we think about it. Each one of us has strengths and weaknesses. The
person we choose to marry often has the opposite strengths and weaknesses. So,
when the two combine in the relationship, their strengths and weaknesses
complement each other, where one is weak, the other is strong, and vice versa.
Unfortunately, this is not what usually happens. I had a friend once put it to me
this way, “we spend our life looking for someone who is different than we are, to
offset our weaknesses, and after we find them, we spend the rest of our life trying
to change them to be like us”.
In our humanness, we have such a desire to be right, or to have our own way. So,
even though we know we have a weakness in certain areas, we would rather
argue or fight to be right than to let someone else who is strong in that area be
right or have their way.
When we choose to argue and fight to be right in areas where we are weak, then
the marriage is dysfunctional and again will likely end, or just exist, which again is
as if they were not married at all.
We allow things to become routine.
This is one of the biggest issues facing every marriage. There are so many things
that come into play with this. First, and maybe foremost, we simply get lazy. Life
is hard and has many responsibilities. When you are sharing life together, it is so
easy to find a routine that both of you like, that makes life just a little bit easier.
There is nothing wrong with this at times, however our tendency is to get into
that routine and never change it.
Second, we are simply tired. Our pace of life and all that must be done, can wear
us out. If feels good to relax with your mate and to unwind and let the stress of
the day melt away as you relax together. Again, there is nothing wrong with
allowing yourself to recharge your battery, but when this becomes routine, the
tiredness turns into boredom and life can start to feel very dull.
Third, somehow, we start to think it is more important to take care of the
responsibilities, or the things that come up outside the home, than it is to stay
focused inside the home. The person we are closest to is often the one most
easily taken for granted, and even though we may not want it to seem that way,
we send a clear message of what we think is important when we start taking our
mate for granted.
Fourth, we simply get selfish. When we think more of ourselves, we are
concerned with how we feel or what we need, instead of thinking these same
thoughts for our mate. When we fall into a pattern of only wanting our needs
met, this becomes a habit and we start a routine that will be almost impossible
for us to turn around.
What can we do to change this?
1. Make sure you are compatible with the person you plan to marry.
Again, you can be very different people, but you need to be compatible or
the differences will be too much for the marriage to overcome. The simple
parts of life like enjoying meals together, listening to music together,
participating in activities together, observing spiritual practices together, or
attending cultural, or family traditions together, will not be so simple. At
first, you may go through the motions and try to enjoy these together, but
over time this will not hold up. You will find that one of you sacrifices
yourself to allow you to do things together, or you will end up each going
your own way and doing these things alone, or with friends instead of your
mate. If you find yourselves arguing and fighting about these things before
you get married, you may want to rethink the marriage altogether.
Also, make sure you are wired the same way in at least two areas. If you
like to touch and be touched and your mate doesn’t, or if you like to spend
time together and your mate wants to spend time with friends, or if you
like to do things for other people and your mate doesn’t, or if you like to
compliment and be complimented and your mate doesn’t, or if you like to
give and receive things and your mate doesn’t, this will be a source of
conflict. You don’t have to match in all the areas, however the two of you
should be similar in the areas most important to you, or you will find
yourselves arguing and fighting continually over these areas. Again, if you
find yourselves arguing and fighting about these things before you get
married, you may want to rethink the marriage.
Finally, make sure physical attraction is not the only, and most important
area you look for. In fact, when you are dating, if you are sensing that
something is missing in the relationship, stop doing things physical for a
period. If physical is the only thing holding the relationship together, it will
become painfully evident if you stop doing this. As we said before, physical
will mask issues in the relationship, so if you stop the physical, the other
issues will rise to the top when the mask is removed. Then you can either
resolve these issues or end the relationship before you get married.
2. Stop trying to change your mate.
You picked someone different than you for a reason. You were drawn to
someone because they were different than you. They completed a side of
you that was lacking. So, quit being self-destructive to the relationship in
having to be right, or having your own way, and realize that your mate
should have their own way as much as you. If we could only view the
marriage relationship as a give and take, then there could be a functional
relationship where each person’s strengths were maximized, and the
weaknesses were minimized. The person who has strengths in certain
areas would take the lead in those areas, and the person who has strengths
in other areas would take the lead in those. This will require teamwork
with each side understanding their strengths and weaknesses to know who
should take the lead in different situations. This simple fact alone can
resolve many of the problems most relationships have.
3. Do not allow your relationship to become routine
The very existence of your marriage may rely, in large part, to this issue.
When you find a routine that both of you like, enjoy it and find pleasure in
this, however don’t become lazy and let this routine become the major part
of your marriage. Remember we are human, and as such we are fickle. We
get bored very easily with things that become routine and when we get
bored in our marriage, we will look for adventure outside of our marriage.
This is a primary reason that affairs occur within marriage relationships.
The irony is, that if we were in a marriage relationship with the person we
were having an affair with, we would probably fall into another routine and
get bored with them as well. Have we ever thought about having an affair
with the person you are married to? If we put the time and energy it takes
to have an affair into the relationship with our mate, we would probably be
amazed at the results we would see. Instead of allowing ourselves to
become lazy and fall into a routine, have an affair with your mate. Not only
will this add adventure back to the relationship, but it will also add a spark
of creativity and excitement that will keep the marriage vital year after
If you continually find yourself tired and simply wanting to relax together, it
may be time to assess what all you have going on. Again, it is good to find
time to relax together, but if you are run down and always finding
yourselves tired, you may need to adjust your schedule. We know there
are seasons of life where it is impossible to stop doing some of the things
we have to do, however many times we are the ones adding things into our
schedule we would be better off not doing. Look at your schedule and see
what areas you can eliminate to feel more rested and give more energy to
the marriage. You will find there is more value in scheduling time for your
marriage than there is in scheduling things outside your marriage that take
your energy needed to keep your marriage from becoming a tired routine.
Along with this thought, realize that nothing outside the marriage
relationship is as important as what is going on inside the marriage
relationship. Do not ever take your mate for granted and see other people
or things as more important than they are. This is the quickest way to the
end of a marriage. Your mate must always be the most important person in
your life. Everything we do must consider them before we consider
anything outside the marriage relationship. Every decision we make to put
something else in front of our mate, communicates to them that they are
not the most important thing in our life. It must be a conscious effort to
make yourself put your mate above everything outside the marriage.
This also includes our own selfishness. There is no question we must take
care of ourselves or we will not be able to give to anyone else, but taking
care of ourselves must never be at the expense of our mate. In our
marriage relationship, we should always think of our mate as importantly as
we think of ourselves. This means that every decision we make will not
only take our desires into consideration, but also our mates. When we do
this, we are always able to come up with better solutions for the marriage.
Instead of finding solutions that just meet our own needs, we find solutions
that meet both our needs and our mates needs. Not only does this make
for a “win/win” solution, it also shows our mate how important they are to