The work never stops
We’ve all heard the tired clichés about how love can fade, and people grow apart—or how men are from Mars and women are from Venus. Here’s the thing. Marriage requires work. It requires constantly rediscovering what makes you love each other. It requires you to breathe deeply when he’s clipping his toenails at the kitchen table. Above all, it requires that you recognize when it’s starting to slip away.
Statistically, half of all divorces occur within the first seven years of marriage. And we’re not going to start with the good news first, in case you were wondering. Our program is all about tough love and honesty and we aim to start the same way we’ll finish. So, if you just sat back and breathed in deeply, thinking you’re past that seven-year hurdle, you should probably know that within a 40-year span, an estimated 67% of first marriages end in divorce.
We’re not going to tell you that marriages are perfect. They fluctuate over time, there’s give and there’s take, but it’s important to always continue to look for areas to improve. Because things can always get better, even when they seem like they’re at their best. Marriages on the opposite end of that spectrum—the ones that feel like they are already circling the drain—can lead to significant physiological and psychological stress on both partners, which have direct negative consequences: High blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, depression, suicide or suicide ideation, psychosis, substance abuse, homicide… the list is extensive. And no, all those things may not happen to you. But think back for a minute on what might have changed when things started to go sour. Have you been daydreaming about what you’ll do when your spouse is finally dead in 20 years? Do you think about moving away to a tropical island? What about packing all your things in the middle of the night and moving home because it’s just too much effort to try and communicate honestly about what’s bothering you?
We’ve all been there, though we might not admit it. And that “communication” that therapists are always on about—using “I” statements, practicing active listening, validating your partner and empathizing with your partner. That’s all well and fine while sitting on a plush couch while someone corrects each misstep in conversation. But what we learn in therapy doesn’t always translate well once we get home. And conflict resolution doesn’t always end in a happily married couple, this just allows positive sentiments to mask the negative ones until they rise to the surface again.