Thursday, July 8, 2010

Divorce and Happiness

At a recent meeting, a member of our stake presidency handed me a report of a study that had to do with the relationship between happiness and divorce. Sounds like two polar opposites, right?

The study followed couples who were experiencing a lot of tension in their marriages, some who got divorced and some who did not. Then they followed up five years later. And their findings were pretty interesting.

Of the couples who hung on, who got through there difficulties, and did not divorce, 65 percent reported that they were happier five years later. On the other hand, among those individuals who got divorced, 19 percent reported that they felt happier five years down the road.

I wouldn't advocate hanging on to a marriage when there is repeated, unresolved trouble with any form of abuse, addiction or infidelity. There are circumstances that warrant divorce, I am sorry to say.

However, where there is no abuse or addiction or infidelity, or these problems are resolved, but there is still contention and misunderstanding and pride, I believe these situations can be helped. Problems can be solved and peace can be restored. And those couples who have the foresight to ride out the storms—and we all go through those storms—wind up being happier later in life.

One thing that I have heard over and over from individuals who have been divorced for 15 or 20 years is that most of them (though certainly not all) regret getting divorced. Later in life, they see a better pathway than the exit strategy they took earlier.

If you are unhappy in your marriage, reach out for help. Swallow your fear and reluctance and get some advice or counseling. Start by getting advice from your Heavenly Father, then seek help from your religious leader, if you have one. The next step will likely be professional counseling or some other form of therapy.

Address your issues. Don't let them fester. No matter what problems your spouse has, you are part of the problem, too. The sooner we all recognize that we have a hand in our own misery, the sooner we will find answers and start feeling better about ourselves and our marriages.

"If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not pass it round. Trouble creates a capacity to handle it. I don't embrace trouble; that's as bad as treating it as an enemy. But I do say, meet it as a friend, for you'll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it." —Oliver Wendell Holmes

A good marriage, and the children who live under its protection, is worth more than any job or self-fulfillment or independence or a heap of gold, no matter how high that heap is. We all want peace and happiness, but how we seek it will also determine if it has any staying power.

3 comments:

  1. I love that, thank you for sharing! I heard a great speaker - Wayne Sotile, PhD who is a marriage and family therapist - say that the difference between Divorced and Happily Married couples is NOT the number of serious problems they face in their marriage, but rather how they face those problems/challenges together. That has helped me when I've encountered challenges in my own marriage, so that rather than feeling like our marriage is 'doomed' I realize that the happiness and outcome of our marriage is up to me to decide, in how I choose to handle problems.

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  2. Love this post. One other thing. Always remember that love is a VERB! A verb is an action word. It requires action on your part (I.e. service) in order to maintain it. I agree completely with your article, although, sometimes things happen in spite of all you do, than you need to learn that your Heavenly Father truly does love you and that he will bless you by and by. sometimes the hardest thing to say (in a marriage or out of one) is simply, Thy will be done.

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  3. Very interesting, but the study doesn't really mesh well IMO. Who's to say the marriages that had problems serious enough to end in divorce, would have been any happier if they had stayed together? Just because they were still unhappy years later doesn't mean it would have been different if they had just "stuck it out" They could have been just as unhappy (or worse) still being married.

    Also, unfortunately, no matter how much one person wants to change or heal their marriage, it takes two to tango. Most divorces happen because one partner checks out. I guess that study might help convince some of those people to "hang in there" but if they're the type to throw in the towel so easily, it probably won't.

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