Divorce is, to many people, a “bad” word. When news breaks that a couple is getting divorced, friends and family may just assume that someone cheated, or at the very least, a very specific, singular problem as at the heart of the breakup.
The real nature of divorces, however, is never so cut and dry. Huge problems aren’t always at the center, and couples may split up for any number of reasons… or overcome any number of obstacles (including an affair) to stay together!
This brings up two big questions – first, why do people think this way? Second, what really causes divorce?
One big reason people make such assumptions about divorce is, well, fear. If they see divorce as something that happens only as a product of infidelity (or another singular issue), then they can put all of their focus on avoiding that specific problem.
If there’s no affair, they’ll never get divorced – this, or something similar, is just delusional thinking. Marriage is far more complicated than that, but when people oversimplify these kinds of things, they can feel like less of a threat…
It may not be reasonable, but putting divorce in a narrowly defined box is a way of denying that it could happen to you. With this thinking, we tell ourselves over and over: even if things are bad, as long as we don’t do X, we won’t get divorced.
But why do divorces happen really?
The ugly truth is that divorce is the final stage of the gradual collapse of a marriage.
Marriages fail over time as the connection between a couple withers, as they drift away from each other, as they continue bad habits and neglect the important parts of maintaining a relationship. All of this happens as part of the marriage – and no matter how bad it gets, divorce is ultimately a choice.
Divorces don’t just “happen.” A couple has to throw in the towel and decide that the marriage is not worth saving.
There’s no single event that makes them happen, and they are by no means inevitable. We can always decide to break the cycles of negativity, to build better habits, to change the way we treat each other and the way we approach the marriage.
Just as divorce is a choice, so is building a strong, healthy, happy marriage!
In both cases, it’s a combination of many factors that coalesce into the overall state of the relationship – for better or worse.
Divorce is the last straw of a slowly crumbling marriage, but it’s the details that really do the damage – not spending time together, forgetting to compliment and flirt with one another, taking each other for granted, negativity, putting each other down, letting your sex life fall by the wayside… and on and on. The damage is done incrementally, maybe unnoticed, but chipping away at the quality of the marriage all along.
The actual decision to divorce comes later. The harm is often done over a long period of time, and even if a divorce is preceded by an affair, what led to the affair? These things don’t “just happen” without circumstances that develop over time.
But there’s some good news!
All of these same elements, the little things that break marriages apart over time, are exactly what can protect your marriage from divorce.
By spending time together, complimenting and flirting with each other, appreciating each other’s contributions to the household, staying positive, working together to solve problems, maintaining a healthy sex life… and so on, you can build up the strength of your marriage to make an affair less likely, to keep fights and conflict to a minimum, to drastically reduce your chances of even considering a divorce – and above all, to make your marriage happy and fulfilling!
It’s truly the little things that count – both for AND against the quality of your marriage – so be aware of how you approach your relationship over the course of each day, not just when it’s “date night” or you disagree with your spouse.
How you treat each other – and the amount of effort you put into the relationship – are the biggest factors that lead to divorce, or prevent it from happening!