Back in July the New York Times ran a surprisingly good piece on marriage titled: The Wedding Toast I’ll Never Give. It isn’t a great piece, but it is far better than what usually comes out of either Christian or secular media.
“The way to stay married,” my mother says, “is not to get divorced.”
“My parents were too poor to get divorced,” a friend told me that very day in Minneapolis as we walked through the book fair. “And so they stayed married and then it seemed too late, and now they’re glad.”
Those are the things I think about when yet another person I used to think of as being part of a happily married couple messages a friend of mine on Tinder.
The conventional wisdom on marriage is that intensive counseling accompanied by large doses of groveling by the husband is required for a marriage to stay together. But the advice from the author’s mother is a far better perspective, and is backed up by science. From Does Divorce Make People Happy? Findings from a Study of Unhappy Marriages:
Two out of three unhappily married adults who avoided divorce or separation ended up happily married five years later. Just one out of five of unhappy spouses who divorced or separated had happily remarried in the same time period…
Many currently happily married spouses have had extended periods of marital unhappiness, often for quite serious reasons, including alcoholism, infidelity, verbal abuse, emotional neglect, depression, illness, and work reversals. Why did these marriages survive where other marriages did not? The marital endurance ethic appears to play a big role. Many spouses said that their marriages got happier, not because they and their partner resolved problems but because they stubbornly outlasted them. With time, they told us, many sources of conflict and distress eased. Spouses in this group also generally had a low opinion of the benefits of divorce, as well as friends and family members who supported the importance of staying married.
Spouses who turned their marriages around seldom reported that counseling played a key role.