40% of all relationships in the United States end in divorce.
I think we can do better.
Yet before that can happen we need to find out what the underlying cause of divorce actually is.
Now as there are more than 60 million married couples in the US to date, finding an underlying cause of divorce that can apply to all 24 million or so of them seems almost impossible.
However, there are a few general conclusions we can make about the process of divorce that can make this daunting task a little bit more manageable.
First, we know the marriages end because at some point the relationship between to two spouses that composed them must have broken down at some point.
Second, we can be certain that relationships can only breakdown down when one or both parties involved stop trying to improve them.
And finally, we can conclude that the only reason one or both parties involved in a relationship would stop trying to improve it is that one or the other or both at some point came to believe that the relationship they had was no longer enjoyable and hence, not worth the effort to fix.
Although while we can be certain of these things, we can also be certain that at some point the two individuals that comprise of a married couple at some point saw enough enjoyment and happiness in each other that they were here at some point convinced that spending the rest of their lives with each other was a good decision.
They most likely did have something at some point, one or the other just lost interest in it along the way, of that we can be assured.
However, being certain of anything else beyond this point is almost impossible as quite a bit of variation comes in the evaluation of over 60 million marriages (120 million people).
Therefore if we can uncover a way of preventing ourselves from ever losing interest in the ones we choose to marry (or friends we want to keep or to preserve marriages we already have), we ensure that the lifelong relationships we have in our lives are as enriching and fulfilling as they can possibly be and that 40% national divorce rate drops to at least to solid 39% (gotta start small).
Fortunately for us, there is such a way to accomplish this goal because the foundation marriage is just the same as the foundation of every relationship with our friends and family in that it all begins with love.
Love is indeed the lifeblood of every kind of bond we are inclined to form with others and just as it is the driving force that would cause us to initiate the desire for marriage to our soul mates, it is also the energy that will allow us to sustain such a commitment for such great length of time as well as the happiness that will allow us to enjoy it all the while.
Therefore, if we can improve the quality of love we have in our relationships, we will be both more able to have a more lasting and joyful marriage (if we are not in one already) as well as more capable of improving the connections we have with friends and family.
Since the best way to improve something is to understand how it works, and the best way to find out how something works is to have experience with it, let us quickly summarize how a human being will come to have that mysterious feeling called love.
He will have some sort of encounter with the person he loves and notices something that he likes about her (for most this is, sadly, just appearances though it could be something as simple as the way she laughs or how lively and outgoing she seems when with friends)
He will, however briefly, think about the person he loves and consider how much happier his life would be if only she were a part of it (he thinks about a future with her and considers how a short term and long term relationship might work out).
He asks her out (he asks her out).
Now I can’t be certain but I have a pretty good feeling that somehow, a vast majority of marriages start this way.
Yet while this process might seem blatantly obvious at first, if we delve a bit deeper into the underlying significance of each of these individual stages, we are able to discover something quite interesting.
First of all, in the “noticing” phase, we might be quick to believe that things we find attractive in other are just a simple niche in the tapestry of our personality however, this is far from the case.
The things that we may find to be the most attractive qualities about others is in many ways a reflection of who we really are.
This is the case because what we are inclined to label as “attractive” in our own eyes is directly linked to what we believe to be the most desirable qualities in a person and hence, they are most important things we look for in a potential spouse.
It’s no secret that some men are bad husbands and some women are bad wives yet because so many men and women have such limited and unrefined desirable qualities in a potential spouse (for example looks and charm only), they are likely to find themselves wondering who they married all those years ago when the qualities they had come to love spouses for suddenly go up in smoke.
Before we can find good spouses, we must first have good standards.
Secondly, in the “thinking” phase, it can be troublesome to consider the possibility that the person whom you have come to care for so much is not a good match for you yet, it is completely necessary.
A good wife makes a man a better man and seeing the quality of her good husband assures her that she is a better woman (see Proverbs 31:10-31).
As I said before, it well-known some men are bad husbands and some women are bad wives, however, in our desire for the person we are considering to so much be the perfect fit, we tend to conveniently overlook this statement often in the moments that matter the most.
The issue with the commitment to marriage is that it tends to happen while we are at a stage in life where we are looking for someone to complete us.
It can feel good when we think about all the entertaining and likable aspect of a person we are interested in, and it can be even better when that person is successful or popular so that the odds of having a happy life with them seem undeniably high from every angle.
But those aren’t the things that truly matter.
So often, we are quick to judge people just on what we see and not for who they are.
Love doesn’t come from certain financial success or a good sense of humor, love comes from knowing and loving a person for who they are on the inside because that’s the only thing you can be absolutely certain that you’ll be spending the rest of your life with.
With this in mind, lasting love can be a difficult thing to have because it asks us to look beyond the accomplishments others have, the good future they have, and the personalities that have so that we can see them for all their faults and all the shortcomings, yet still love them dearly.
In this, we are able to discover a love that goes being common physicality and that truly nourishes our hearts.
Finally, in the “asking” phase, many newlywed women are likely quite surprised that their husbands continuously ask more and more of them each and every day even though she has already said ‘yes’ to the big question.
In this asking phase, I do not mean to discuss the formality of asking a girl out for the first time (you either do it or you don’t, she either says yes or she says no, its simple really) but rather, I am discussing the asking that comes after she has already said yes.
It so easy to believe that just because she gave you a chance or just because you’re already married that the heavy lifting and the life of luxury begin now.
That could not be any further from the truth.
This is because after any relationship has been established, it now must begin to endure the test of time, a test that roughly 40% of the United States’ couples have or will fail.
Yet this test doesn’t have to be a hardship as it is actually the best part marriage.
Can anyone imagine anything better than being a spouse that loves you for who you are and continuously encourages you to be the best you can be?
And even if you may be tempted to say “yeah, God is better” you would be sincerely delighted to know that a good spouse actually HELPS you improve your relationship with God rather than hurt it.
What? Don’t you believe me? Go read Proverbs 18:22, I’ll wait…
The case is that marriage with a good spouse is a good thing in general but the simple fact is that any relationship we want to keep in our lives for a long period of time won’t just magically work itself out.
Relationships require work, and not everyone is up for that, and that’s how marriages end in divorce.
Think of it this way, a marriage is like a beautiful flower planted in rich soil so that all it needs to live is sunlight (appreciation) and water (communication).
It might be so tempting to stand by and admire the beauty of the flower that the two responsible for it neglect to give it the things necessary for its survival, like water it (talk to each other honestly), or give it sunlight (remind each other of the value of their love).
As this continues over a long period of time, the flower slowly starts to wither away.
The two responsible for it see it in weakening state and, rather than give it what it needs to heal (talk to each other and express the importance of their commitment to one another), they instead blame each other for allowing it to wither under his/her watch, as though their joint relationship was the responsibility of just one of them.
That’s how marriages die.
Therefore the only way to keep our flowers alive is to give them constant attention so that they are always growing rather than withering.
After all this, my point is simple, love is not for the feint of heart.
Love in many ways asks more of a person than any job or career ever could because while those kinds of things are only influenced by what you can do, love is only influenced by who you are.
Therefore, be mindful to speak often with the people you care about and to constantly remind them of their irreplaceable value to you.
And even if you haven’t found the one yet (myself included) don’t give up hope, because when the time is right, God will provide.
Thanks for Reading!