The Average Marriage

It seems logical to infer that when marriages fail there are circumstances within these relationships that are worse than the norm. When couples call it quits it is assumed that the problems were beyond usual limits. Popular wisdom tells us that if the bad appears to outweigh the good in a marriage it is irreversibly broken and you may as well cut your losses and move on. But these conclusions are all based on unsubstantiated perceptions and not on facts.

To be sure there are terrible situations that bring about the end of marital unions. These scenarios include abuse, severe addictions, desertion, infidelity and others. Such cases should not be taken lightly and the victims involved need love and support.

But do these tragic circumstances represent the majority of divorces in our culture? No. Not even close.

The majority of marriages that end in divorce experience conflicts and problems that are no worse than the average experience of couples who remain together. In other words, most couples who give up do not have deeply troubled relationships - and certainly not ones that are irretrievably ruined. Research shows that the majority of couples who decide to divorce have a relationship that is simply normal. They have average levels of happiness as well as average levels of conflict.

Way too many times these couples are not victims of a bad marriage. Rather, they are victims of a culture that perpetuates ridiculous, uninformed myths about love and happiness. These partners are duped into thinking that their problems are far worse than should be expected or tolerated. So, they pack it in. In reality, the vast majority of these couples are encountering normal experiences common to virtually every relationship.

Research has demonstrated time after time that in the majority of cases couples who simply stick it out end up much happier. [See previous article.] And, sadly, most who throw in the towel believing their lives will be improved by divorce eventually find out they were terribly wrong. [See previous article.] Our collective lack of cultural insight is astounding in this regard given that the facts are so abundantly clear.

So, if you are experiencing struggles and problems in your marriage you are far from alone. Indeed, you are normal and average. Certainly there are unhappy times. These vary in intensity and duration. Bad times sometimes fade quickly or can last months or years. But, in the overwhelming majority of cases couples who stay together ultimately work things out and are much happier in the long run. Your best chance at a successful, enduring relationship is to stay with the person to whom you are currently married!
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