I recently read a study by the American Sociological Association that discovered that women initiate two thirds of all divorces, an astounding 69% to be exact. This fact caused me to ask the following questions: What can women do to prevent divorce? And how can we break the negative pattern of relating that can lead to the demise of our marriages?
First of all, it’s important to become conscious of your expectations. Dr. Brené Brown writes, “The fastest way for an expectation to morph into shame or resentment is for it to go unnoticed.” Dr. Brown also recommends that we drop or prerequisites for feeling worthy based on conditions – such as having our partner’s approval or a perfect relationship.
Try these 6 things before giving up on your marriage:
- Stop playing the blame game.According to Dr. John Gottman , talking about specific issues will reap better results than attacking your partner. For instance, a complaint is: “I’m upset because you didn’t tell me you’d be running so late after work. We agreed to call or text when we are running more than 15 minutes late.” Versus a criticism: “You’re never on time. How can I believe that you love me and that I matter to you?”
- Practice repairing after an argument. Don’t put aside resentments that can destroy your relationship. Experiencing conflict is inevitable and couples who strive to avoid it are at risk of developing stagnant relationships. Take a break during a dispute and then have a brief discussion about how you can get back on track. Avoid defensiveness and showing contempt for your partner (rolling your eyes, ridicule, name-calling, sarcasm, etc.). Focus more on listening than talking during this recovery conversation.
- Boost affection and schedule sexual intimacy twice a week. Igniting passion in your marriage may take some planning since we all live such busy lives. A good first step is increasing physical contact which releases oxytocin (the bonding hormone) that causes a calming sensation. Studies show that it’s released during sexual orgasm and affectionate touch as well. Physical affection also reduces stress hormones – lowering daily levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
- Remind yourself of your partner’s positive qualities– even as you struggle with their flaws – and express your positive feelings out loud several times each day. Nurture fondness and admiration for your partner by searching for common ground rather than insisting on getting your way when you have a disagreement. Listen to their point of view and avoid the stonewalling – or shutting yourself off from communication.
- Adopt realistic expectations of marriage and give your partner the benefit of the doubt. The fantasy that there is a “perfect person” or soul mate and that good marriages should be easy can be damaging to your commitment to our partner.
- Practice Forgiveness. Apologies clear the air and can be healing for the person who is the offender and the receiver of one. A genuine apology can be soothing but the failure to listen and accept it can be destructive to your marriage. Even if you aren’t ready to accept an apology, you can hear your partner’s side of the story and tell them you’ll think about it. Keep in mind that accepting an apology doesn’t mean you condone your partner’s actions or that you will forget what happened overnight. It takes time for couples to heal from a breach of trust or a small or large transgression. Some apologies are hard to give but with courage and patience, reconciliation is possible.
It’s important to keep in mind is that realistic expectations and damage control can keep resentment from building and causing serious problems. Examine your own behavior before your point the finger at your partner. The best way to create a relationship built on love, trust, an intimacy is to take responsibility for our own actions and to practice acceptance and compassion for our partner.
Twitter, Facebook, and, movingpastdivorce.com. Terry’s award winning book Daughters of Divorce: Overcome the Legacy of Your Parents’ Breakup and Enjoy a Happy, Long-Lasting Relationship is available on her website.
I’d love to hear from you and answer your questions about relationships, divorce, marriage, and remarriage. Please ask a question here. Thanks! Terry