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!