Most of us know many people who have walked down the aisle on their wedding day as happy and hopeful as they could be. They think they will live “happily ever after” only to eventually find themselves walking down a hallway to finalize a divorce. Maybe it’s something you’ve personally experienced. You know only too well that love, even when it appears to be permanent, can die off somehow. But why is this? What are the marriage killers that are most responsible for today’s high divorce rate?
Those are questions we’d like to address in today’s Marriage Message. We pray that as you read these insights, you’ll examine your own marriage. Look to see if you’re falling victim to these same problematic “killers.”
The following article was previously posted on the Focus on the Family web site Focusonthefamily.com. So, to start off, here’s a question then a portion of the answer they gave on their web site, which may help you in your marriage. We have added links to articles that could help you deal with these “marriage killers” and even more, if you read the linked articles.
The question is:
What are the “marriage killers” most responsible for today’s high divorce rate?
Answer (written by a Focus on the Family counselor):
It would take perhaps 50 volumes to describe them all, and even then we would only scratch the surface. Any one of the following “dragons” can rip a relationship to shreds if given an opportunity to do so:
Over-commitment and physical exhaustion:
Beware of this condition. It’s especially insidious for young couples who are trying to get started in a profession or in school. Do not try to go to college, work full-time, have a baby, manage a toddler, fix up a house, and start a business at the same time. It sounds ridiculous, but many young couples do just that and are then surprised when their marriages fall apart. Why wouldn’t they? The only time they see each other is when they are worn out! Married couples must reserve time for one another if they hope to keep their love alive.
[To address these issues please read: • When a Job Steals Time from the Marriage and Family • Career Issues: Lack of Time Together • Don’t Let Your Children Come Between You • Spending Time Together Now That You’re Married • Pockets of Time – plus – You can find additional helpful articles in the topics Children’s Effect on Marriage and Communication Tools and Romantic Ideas]
Excessive credit and conflict over how money will be spent:
Pay cash for consumable items or don’t buy. Don’t spend more on a house or a car than you can afford, leaving too few resources for dating, short trips, baby-sitters, etc. Use your funds with the wisdom of Solomon.
[To address these issues please read: • Dealing with Five Ways Couples Disagree About Money • Important Rules for Managing Money • Cash Clash: What’s Below the Surface • How to Fight Fair About Finances – Plus- You will find additional articles, which address money matters by going to the topic: Marriage Finances]
There are two kinds of people in the world, the givers and the takers. A marriage between two givers can be a beautiful thing. Friction is inevitable for a giver and a taker. But two takers can claw each other to pieces within a period of weeks. Selfishness will devastate marital partners in short order.
[To address this issue, please read: • Bridging the Differences That Tend to Separate Us • Marriage Uncovers Character Flaws • Individual Differences that Between Men and Women • How to Deal With Your Anger • Serious Communication Games People Play • The Passive Aggressive Spouse • Wishing For Another Chance]
Unhealthy relationships with in-laws:
If either the husband or wife has not been fully emancipated from the parents, it is best not to live near them. Autonomy is difficult for some mothers and fathers to grant, and close proximity is built for trouble.
Some couples come into marriage anticipating walks down primrose lanes, and unmitigated joy. There is no way a marriage between two imperfect human beings can deliver on that expectation. The late counselor Jean Lush believed, and I agree, that this romantic illusion is particularly characteristic of women, who expect more from their husbands than they’re capable of providing. The consequent disappointment is an emotional minefield.
[You can find articles and videos to help you deal with expectations that are unmet by reading: • Revising Expectations to Fit Painful Realities • When Expectations Wreck Your Marriage • This Isn’t the Person I Married – Did I Make a Mistake? • If you go to church without your spouse how do you deal with unmet expectations? • We Used to Be So In Love • How You Relate After the Wedding • When the Honeymoon Ends – Marriage Message #154 • Addressing Misconceptions – Marriage Message #181 • Why Won’t He or She Talk With Me? • What Cindy Wright Has Learned About Marriage • What Steve Wright Has Learned About Marriage • Won Without a Word]
By space invaders, I am not referring to aliens from Mars. Rather, my concern is for those who violate the “breathing room” needed by their partners. They’re quickly suffocating them and destroying the attraction between them. Jealousy is one way the phenomenon manifests itself. Another is a poor self-concept, which leads the insecure spouse to build a cage around the other. It often suffocates the relationship. Love must be free, and it must be confident.
[The following are articles, which may address your “space invader” and help as you read them (along with others posted on this web site): • When Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Marriage • Internet and Texting Rules for Couples • An Inside Look at Abusive Relationships • Abusive Traits and Characteristics • Create an Environment for Honesty – Marriage Message #229 • Grieving Differently – Marriage Message #249 • To Say Something or Not: THAT Is the Question • How Can I Start a Difficult Conversation with My Spouse? • Why Hurt People Hurt People • Living in Confidence Because of Who You Are in Christ]
Sexual frustration and its partner, the greener grass of infidelity:
It is a deadly combination!
[The following articles may help you in this area of marriage, as you read them and apply the advice that will help you: • My Spouse Has Little or No Desire for Sex • Refusal: Just Because He Stopped Asking Doesn’t Mean He Stopped Wanting • Sex: When the Husband Doesn’t Want to Make Love • Sex: When a Wife Doesn’t Want to Make Love • QUIZ: Relationship Vulnerability Map • Is Flirting on the Internet Considered Cheating? • Why Affairs Happen: Prevention As Well As Recovery • Hedges: Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It • Things You Need to Know About Affairs • The Workplace Romance – plus, you can read many specific articles in the Topics: • Sexual Issues • Pornography and Cybersex • Emotional & Physical Affair • Surviving Infidelity]
Failure in work does bad things to men especially. Their agitation over financial reverses sometimes precipitates anger within the family.
[The following articles (plus more you can find on this web site) may help you to deal with this issue so it doesn’t “kill” your marriage: • When You Lose Your Job • Coping When Your Spouse Is Unemployed • Don’t Allow Tragedies to Split Your Marriage]
It is almost as risky to succeed wildly as it is to fail miserably in business. King Solomon wrote: “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread” (Proverbs 30:8). Edward Fitzgerald said it another way. “One of the saddest pages kept by the recording angel is the record of souls that have been damned by success.” It’s true.
[The following are a few articles to read and prayerfully consider when fighting against the “killer” of business success: • When a Job Steals Time from Your Marriage and Family • Why Some Spouses Give Up • CAREER ISSUES: Lack of Time Together • Making Time for Fun • Staying Connected When the Spouse is Away]
Getting married too young:
Girls who marry between 14 and 17 years of age are more than twice as likely to divorce as those who marry at 18 or 19 years of age. Those who marry at 18 or 19 are 1.5 times as likely to divorce as those who marry in their 20s. The pressures of youth and the stresses of early married life do not mix well. Finish the first before taking on the second.
[If you are young and you haven’t married, or you are thinking of marrying someone much younger than you, the following may find helpful to read through on this issue: • Christians Marrying Young – Should We or Shouldn’t We – Why or Why Not? • Age Gap: Should It Matter? However, if you have already married, please stay committed and look around this web site to find articles and suggested resources that will address the issues you are encountering. Please know that many DO marry “too young” but that doesn’t mean that you can’t grow up and work together to make your marriage a great one. We know of many, many couples that marry at younger ages and they have GREAT marriages! But they stayed committed and have worked through their issues to get their relationship to that point.]
Alcohol and substance abuse:
These are notorious killers, not only of marriages, but of the people who indulge excessively.
Pornography, gambling, and other addictions:
It should be obvious to everyone that the human personality is flawed. It has a tendency to get hooked on destructive behaviors, especially early in life. During an introductory stage, people think they can tamper with various enticements, such as pornography, gambling, hard drugs, etc., without being hurt. Indeed, many do walk away unaffected. For some, however, there are a weakness and a vulnerability that are unknown until too late. Such people then become addicted to something that tears at the fabric of the family.
[While we may not have a LOT of articles on these types of issues, we do have some that can be a great starting place to deal with them. Please look through the following articles and topics, to see what you can find that will help you with these marriage destroyers: • When Sexual Addiction Invades Your Marriage —plus, an entire Topic dedicated to this issue (where you can glean through the articles: • Pornography and Cybersex) • Gambling is Destroying our Marriage and Family Life • ADDICTION: What is the Cure?]
Marriage Killer Warning
This warning may seem foolish and even prudish to my readers, but I’ve made a 20-year study of those who wreck their lives. Their problems often begin in experimentation with a known vice and ultimately end in death …or the death of a marriage.
These are a few of the common marriage killers. But in truth, the list is virtually limitless. All that is needed to grow the most vigorous weeds is a small crack in the sidewalk. If you are going to beat the odds and maintain an intimate, long-term marriage, you must take the task seriously. The natural order of things will carry you away from one another, not bring you together.
We hope that if you recognize any of these marriage killers attacking your marriage —you’ll be pro-active in finding ways to address them (and hopefully throw them out). Work to make your marital relationship as healthy as it is possible.
You may or may not have a spouse who will participate as he or she should in your relationship. But with the Lord’s help you can at least do your part. Please don’t underestimate in the importance of this in your personal integrity, your witness to others, and in your personal relationship with God. May He bless you as you apply yourself to reveal and reflect His ways and His heart in all you do.
Cindy and Steve Wright
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