Just Hang in There—But For How Long?
The opening line of the chorus of the Kenny Rogers song, “The Gambler”, goes: “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, and when to fold ‘em.” The same could be said about marriage. At what point do we decide that a marriage is no longer viable?
It does seem that over the last couple of generations, that there has been a swing from the idea of hanging in there until “death do us part” to an extreme reaction to assert one’s right to end a marriage for practically any reason. Having the opportunity to choose to opt out of a dead relationship is certainly, by just about any measure, preferable to being trapped in a hopeless situation.
We’ve seen many couples who have chosen to end their marriages without having given the relationship their very best shot. We’ve also seen couples that have stayed in unhealthy relationships much longer than is good for either of them. Some cancers exist in the body for years before the symptoms emerge. The same can be true for many marriages. And early detection is crucial in both cases.
The time to deal with our grievances is when we first become aware of them. At this stage of the game issues are much more responsive to our efforts and more manageable in scope.
We have also seen couples who waited too long. Their marriages could have been saved if it hadn’t taken them so long to get help. Many people have told us “If I knew then what I know now, I’d still be married.” What it is that they wish they had known has to do with ways of more skillfully managing differences.
Some marriages don’t deserve to be saved and some couples are truly mismatched. Some situations are genuinely unworkable. Yet in our experience, there are many more people who quit before they have done all they can do, than those who stay in a broken marriage too long.
The willingness to raise the difficult questions, express concerns, share feelings, and confront issues directly and openly is the best way to prevent the possibility of a long drawn out, deterioration of a relationship. The willingness to confront the serious concerns with or without professional help, is the best marriage insurance there is. Doing so won’t insure that your marriage will last till death do you part, but it will insure that regardless of the outcome, you will have the knowledge that you’ve done your absolute best. At the very least, the two of you will have brought a deeper level of integrity and truthfulness into your lives. And if you do divorce, the recovery period for both partners will be shorter and less painful than it would be otherwise. And by the way, you will also have increased the likelihood of not only staying together, but of deepening the love that brought you together in the first place.
Find more tips like this in the Bloom’s new book an End to Arguing: 101 Valuable Lessons for All Relationships.
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