Half of all marriages end in divorce—but does yours have to? When you reach the point in a relationship where you’re not sure if your marriage will survive or not, you do have a choice. You can try to save the marriage or not. If you do want to try, what are some steps you can take to recover?
Bill from Boise, ID writes:
“I’ve been married to my wife for 5 years, and I really care about her. I’m sure I even still love her, but it’s like all the flavor and happiness has gone out of the relationship and what we’re left with is just the sum of our shared struggles. How do I keep my marriage from sinking? When we took the vow I said, “for richer or poorer,” but I didn’t really understand what that entailed. Considering how many of our friends have had divorces by now I’m not sure many people do. Thank you for your thoughts.”
Hi Bill. Many people have speculated on why so many marriages fall apart, and many different theories have been postulated. In your case it sounds like you have both come to associate your shared trauma with your relationship and with each other. Sadly, the human mind does things like this, against our better judgment in many cases, and what you’re left with can be very disheartening.
Marriage is a partnership, however. People say this all the time, but how often do they think about it? When you decide to marry someone, you are agreeing to share in their struggles, “for richer or poorer,” and so on. It’s easy to say at the onset, because on such an optimistic day you probably are both thinking that it’s certainly “for richer.” As the years go by though and the troubles of daily life set in, you may reach a day when you realize that what you are sharing is your poverty.
The real richness of a marriage isn’t determined by how much money is in your pocketbooks, or by your triumphs or successes in business or even with other personal issues—it’s determined by how you both respond to triumphs and challenges alike. If you can stay true to each other, your relationship can enrich you both regardless of whether your circumstances are for richer or poorer. In that sense it will always be “for richer.”
Is that easier said than lived? Most certainly. The real challenges in any lifetime are often the ones which we face inside our own heads and hearts. I suggest you talk to your partner openly about your feelings, and that when you do so you express that your highest priority is to keep the marriage together. As far as the specifics go, you could consider marriage counseling. A marriage counselor’s job isn’t to solve your problems for you, or to understand you better than you understand yourselves, or anything like that. It’s simply to allow you both to talk to a relatively detached third party who might be able to help you see events with a fresh perspective. Sometimes that perspective and some dedication (and of course love) can be all it takes to save a marriage. Good luck!