Consider counseling before divorce
Fairy tales teach us that after you meet your prince or princess and overcome initial trials, you fall in love and live “happily ever after.” What fairy tales fail to teach us is that “happily ever after” is extremely subjective, which leads many couples to choose divorce.
Studies suggest that men and women speak a different language. According to Shermikia Lemon, corporate conflict resolution consultant and owner of Mediation Solutions Group, LLC, “Good communication is vital for any relationship, but especially in a marriage.” She continues, “Couples must learn the importance of communicating” because “communication and respect go hand and hand, as they are both essential ingredients to making a marriage work.”
Often, spouses fail to hear each other out, which leads to a communication issue that could have been prevented with proper guidance from a third-party mediator or counselor.
Tossing out excess baggage
As I spoke with couples who have been married for 30+ years, each shared that they wanted to divorce many times, but what kept them together is working hard, prayers and counseling. One spouse stated that she and her partner lived apart for more than two years and completed individual counseling because they both had issues from their past, which they needed to address individually. Issues stemmed from past relationships, family dysfunction and adjusting to life as a military husband. This couple worked through their individual problems, which helped the marriage tremendously.
Many couples come into relationships with “baggage” that they do not “throw out” prior to marriage. Lemon suggests, “One of the greatest challenges for couples locked into negative exchanges is to find adaptive ways of exiting from such cycles.” Baggage may include family issues, such as seeing other unhealthy relationships. Just as success attracts success, positive couples need to be around other positive couples that can encourage them and be honest with them when they are not working up to their potential. In the same way it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to help marriages stay on track.
Taking time for self-reflection
According to Lemon, “One of the biggest reasons marital issues exist is a result of behavioral patterns that many aren’t willing to change, [and] marital conflict can be about virtually anything.” To change such patterns, one must be willing to self reflect. Counseling sessions can be a tool to help in this process.
When individuals fail to reflect and place blame instead, they never truly fix themselves, which can negatively affect relationships with spouses and children. “If children are involved, what are you teaching them about your faith, feelings and love? They are watching, so what have they learned about your problem-solving skills?” Lemon shares.
Often, because individuals grow up with inadequate or skewed values regarding relationships, they tend to lean toward divorce because it is easier for them than addressing their own problems. Some spouses worry that their partners may judge them for their past, and they do not want to take the chance of being hurt; they feel that walking away is easier. Because studies show that “we all react 100 percent of the time out of emotions” Lemon states, “couples really [need] to think about this tough decision (divorce) that they are about to make.”
Learning to listen
Marriage requires spouses to work hard, respect their partners and, sometimes, the help of a counselor to teach effective communication. As Lemon states, “Listening is more important than talking and waiting to get your point across. Do everything in your power to really listen so that you may gain a better understanding of your spouse’s feelings.”
The ingredients to a happy relationship can be hard to initially determine because two people from two different worlds are making an attempt to come together and spend their entire lives together. But if you follow the simple steps, “Be willing and open to see things from a different perspective; learn how to be a great listener; be willing to admit when you are wrong; and COMMUNICATE,” Ms. Lemon believes you can grow in your relationship with your spouse.