Aren’t half of marriages going to end in divorce no matter what?
Sort of. It is true that about 40 to 50 percent of marriages in America end in divorce. With numbers that high, some might assume that divorce is almost inevitable in most marriages. But research indicates that there are certain things that successful couples are doing to keep their marriages successful while there are things that couples who end up divorcing are doing that make divorce almost certain. Understandably, most of our clients are past the point of looking for ways to save their marriage, but hopefully some of the people who are seeking out this divorce blog may be able to use the research to make positive changes in their marriages and avoid the costly and stressful process that is divorce.
What does the research show about divorce?
According to The Atlantic, when you look at studies that have been conducted, couples can basically be broken down into two different categories, the “masters” and the “disasters.” It may or may not come as a surprise that the main difference between the two types of couples is how they respond to each other and the amount of kindness they show. Over numerous studies the research shows that couples who are heading for disaster have a fight or flight type of physiological response with any interaction or discussion of their relationship. The disasters are constantly prepared for a completely normal interaction to turn ugly. They expect any comment to lead to a nasty comment in return and a fight.
In contrast, the masters do not have the same fight or flight physiological responses. The other huge difference is that the masters respond to their partners with kindness. If a master’s partner tells them something positive, they respond in a positive and engaging way while the disasters often ignore or give a negative response to their partners. Also, masters are more likely to give their partner the benefit of the doubt while the disasters will assume that anything their partners do is meant to hurt or harm them.
What is the key to a healthy and successful relationship?
The key to a healthy and successful relationship according to the research is kindness. The masters view kindness sort of like a muscle, even if they are not currently great at being kind, they understand that with practice, or exercise, they can make their kindness muscle stronger so they make active attempts to be kind in their interactions with their partners. While gifts and other things can be beneficial to a relationship, the research indicates that being kind is much more important in maintaining a successful relationship.
Unfortunately, the converse of this key to a healthy and successful relationship is that your marriage may be headed for disaster if you and your partner can’t seem to act with kindness. If every interaction with your spouse seems to invoke your fight or flight response by raising your heart rate and preparing for the worst, then your marriage may be headed for divorce. The studies did not discuss implementing changes in the “disaster” couples, but it can be assumed that it couldn’t possibly hurt a marriage to attempt to be kind.
Contact Guest and Gray if you feel like your marriage is solidly in the disaster category. We can discuss your divorce case and help you consider all of your options.