Asking Divorcés for Marriage Advice

The idea works out better than you might think.

The title of the article in today’s Wall Street Journal–“The Divorcé’s Guide to Marriage”–struck me as an odd one.  But on reading the article I saw that there was a certain logic, and the points made were good ones.

It is based on a study begun in 1986 on more than 350 couples who were in their first year of marriage at the time.  Over the next 25 years, 46% of the couples divorced–apparently (and sadly)–statistically normal for such a stretch of time, 44% of which are now remarried and another 27% have new “partners.”  Dr. Terry Orbuch has been conducting the study and has gathered information from those who divorced on the problems they perceived in their marriages.  What I liked about the article and the work is that it apparently focused on what the individual interviewed felt he or she should have done differently to prevent the marriage’s failure, not how the other person somehow “messed things up.”  The result of the work is a “Top Five” list of what they regret most about their behaviors in their failed marriages and what they would have done differently to make their marriages a success.

Here, in no particular order, is the list given in the article, though the summary description doesn’t always suggest the details behind it:

  • Boost your spouse’s mood.
  • Reveal more about yourself.
  • Talk more about money.
  • Get over the past.
  • Blame the relationship.

“Blame the relationship” is a good example of a summary that, by itself, isn’t very explanatory.  When you read the explanation, it is about avoiding blaming individuals about problems and focusing on the both of you as a couple.  Less “you, you, you” and more “we, we, we.”  For instance, contrast “Why are you so angry all the time?” with “Why do you think we’re having such a hard time getting along?”  (Personally, I tend to call the first question a “shields up” provocation–almost guaranteed to put the other person on the defensive.)

So, don’t stop at the summaries above: read the article and see what you think.  Dr. Orbuch has also written a book, Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship, which is based on the same research.  Note, by the way, I haven’t read the book and I am not endorsing it, just mentioning it.  I report, you decide. 🙂

However, I do recommend and endorse our free booklet God’s Plan for Happy Marriage, now available in pretty much any format you could want: in print, online, PDF, iPad, Nook, Kindle, Sony — no excuses not to get it!

6 thoughts on “Asking Divorcés for Marriage Advice

  1. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    Book Report on this end: Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs (published by Focus on the Family) starts with Ephesians 5:33 and gives a pretty robust workup of how to apply the fundamental principles of that verse and related biblical verses. It was recommended to me by one of the brethren and I got it in its Kindle Edition for iPod touch from Later I was told it’s recommended extracurricular reading by our Living University’s class on marriage and family. I can see why. The author cites numerous testimonies, some of them at considerable length, on how the love-respect dynamic works.

    That said (and not wishing to make a mere shameless plug for someone else’s book), I find our booklets on marriage and family excellent and they come at a great price (free, or priceless depending on your reckoning).

  2. This might sound a little goofy, but maybe it’s a good idea for a young couple to visit a professional marriage counselor before they get married, and not after? This was suggested by a marriage counselor in a local newspaper article. She kept seeing the same problems crop up time and again, and it was frustrating for her, because it was usually too late. She thought that a couple should seek counsel before marriage.

    It made sense to me. I took a child development class at the local college, and boy, that sure did pay dividends when I had to deal with kids later on. I understood what was going on with them at a particular developmental stage, and I knew how to deal with it. Why not do that with marriage?

  3. Thanks, Steve. In line with biblical principles, we recommend all couples, regardless of age (not just young) or previous experience, go through counseling with their minister about their relationship before committing to marriage. So, no, the idea of counseling before marriage is not goofy at all — it’s how we do things in the Church and is our standard, biblically-based policy for all marriages.

  4. Steven

    I would agree 100% that counselling before marriage is a great idea for anyone, however, the only problem I have with that scenario is when religious organizations (who offer such a service) actually charge their members a fee to enrol in a “marriage preparation course” of some sort. Now that is wrong. It should be free for any couple that is planning to get married. Leave the money part out of it, and direct it toward regular tithing. I say this because I know for a fact that certain religious institutions do charge couples for such a program.

  5. Howdy, Steven, and I’m not surprised that some do. We don’t, of course — following the example of Elisha — and our counseling is part of our ministerial duties. (There are some good programs out there, though, that do cost a little, such as the Prepare and Enrich program, which I like a lot.) Counseling your members should be a part of a minister’s regular duties and not some sort of “fee for hire” service, and I’m glad that we do it properly.

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