The state of marriage and long-term relationships is devastating. Many couples go through crises and use the “divorce” or “separation” solution too early, often before they seek any relationship advice.
The pressure on relationships is very high nowadays. Sometimes, when things are broken, it is hard to mend them. Therefore, it is better to get some relationship advice at the beginning or the relationship, as well as when things start to crack.
Every coaching client I see makes me think that if there was more relationship education at school and less math and trigonometry, we wouldn’t have so much heartache and pain in our society. Don’t get me wrong, I am a math teacher too and I value math, but I believe that if people had good relationship skills when they needed them, especially before marriage and before their marriage problems started, they would all be in a better place.
The extent to which two people in a relationship can bring up and resolve issues is a critical marker of the soundness of a relationship.
Boundaries Face to Face: How to Have That Difficult Conversation You’ve Been Avoiding
Relationship Advice 1: Learn the Facts about Relationship, Marriage and Divorce
My first relationship advice is to know the statistics about marriage and divorce (general statistics about relationships are harder to find). Why? Because it is good to know what you are going to face when committing to someone.
As the daughter of parents who are still married and the long-time partner of my beloved boyfriend, (lover, partner and husband), I was very surprised to read some eye opening statistics about marriage and divorce. I also have many coaching clients who consider divorce, but when they come in for my relationship advice, they are in “solution mode”, which makes it easier for them to find their love again.
I believe that the marriage problems and divorce have reached a level of social disaster. When I give my clients relationship advice, I want them to know what their options are and what research has found to be more or less effective in relationships.
See for yourself:
- 82% of married couples reach their 5th anniversary
- 65% reach their 10th anniversary
- 52% reach their 15th anniversary
- 33% reach their 25th anniversary
- 20% reach their 35th anniversary
- Only 5% reach their 50th anniversary
- Remarriage divorce rate is higher
Although divorcees may have successful subsequent marriages, the divorce rate of remarriages is higher than that of first marriages. So couples just move their marriage problems from one relationship to the other. Psychology Today stated that “a whopping 60% of remarriages fail. And they do so even more quickly. After an average of 10 years, 37% of remarriages have dissolved versus 30% of first marriages”.
Surprisingly, those who get into a live-in arrangement before marrying have a considerably higher chance of divorcing. The reasons for this are not clear, but the type of people who prefer to live together without marriage may also be less prepared to commit. There is proof that supports the notion that living together out of marriage makes divorce more likely, because the couples see living together as a temporary arrangement that can more easily be terminated.
Whereas in previous generations, living together was considered defiant and even outrageous, nowadays, many couples live together for a number of years and break up without considering this a divorce. When I give my clients relationship advice, it is important for me to explain to my clients that living together before marriage has its advantages and disadvantages, but it is not insurance for a long life together.
Relationship advice 2: Break the Divorce Cycle
My second relationship advice is for couples with children: Examine your own history and stop the cycle of relationship problems that are passed down the generations.
Qualitative studies and long term empirical studies have demonstrated that children of divorced couples develop interpersonal problems that become worse in adulthood and affect their own chances of having happy relationships.
This means that children of divorced couples have a higher rate of divorce than children of couples that stayed married. The old saying that parents set the example is also true in this case. Just like happy parents raise happy kids, divorced parents raise kids who are more likely to consider divorce as a solution, because they have experienced it before. Children learn about commitment and stability from their parents and for children of divorced parents, these concepts have already been undermined and shaken.
The conclusion of a research published in American Sociological Review in 1992 was “Children who grow up in single-parent homes are less likely to marry, more likely to divorce and more likely to have children outside of wedlock”.
Relationship advice 3: Consider the Cost of Divorce
My third relationship advice for couples is to consider the cost of divorce. A research in the USA in 2008 claimed that to a couple, divorce cost about $18,000 and this included lost work productivity, relocation expenses and legal fees. These costs varied immensely, depending on the nature of the divorce and the situation of the couple. Today, the cost of divorce is a lot higher.
According to Money Magazine, divorce can mean the end of financial security, with women being invariably hit harder, with a massive 43 percent average drop in income. In Australia, income dropped from about $50,000 when first married to $28,900 one year after the split.
Single parents must juggle work and parenting, with child support income covering some of the costs, but not the loss of work potential and income.
Divorced or separated couples with children have to pay higher costs for additional residence and the extra travel and phone calls involved in keeping in touch with the other parent. This financial toll increases the pressure on both parents significantly and pushes more and more people to depend on government benefits.
I think this is what we all want to hear: that we are not alone in hitting the bottom and that it is possible to come out of that place courageous, beautiful, and strong.
Relationship advice 4: Marriage is Like Wine – It Gets Better with Age
My fourth relationship advice for couples is to know that relationship, like wine, gets better over the years. This is not just a metaphor. Research backs it up.
No marriage is perfect. However, using a large sample for research purposes, researchers learned that 86 percent of people who were unhappily married in the late 1980s, but stayed in the marriage, said they were happier when interviewed five years later. In fact, 60% of those who were previously unhappy considered their marriages as either “very happy” or “quite happy” (National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, 2002).
So if you have difficulties in your relationship, go home (or maybe you are home already) and start working on your relationship to make sure you will not be part of the divorce statistics.
If you have a good marriage, enjoy every minute of it and keep working on your relationship to ensure you will not be part of the statistics.
Coming together is the beginning.
Keeping together is progress.
Working together is success.