In This Series:
- Stay together and be miserable.
- Get a divorce.
What Makes Marriages Get Better?Researchers followed up on those couples who rated their marriages as unhappy at first and happy five years later. Here’s what the couples told them were the reasons for the dramatic turnaround:Linda J. Waite, Don Browning, William J. Doherty, Maggie Gallagher, Ye Luo and Scott Stanley, “Does Divorce Make People Happy? Findings from a Study of Unhappy Marriages,” Institute for American Values, 2002, http://americanvalues.org/search/item.php?id=13.
- Waiting. Since many couples have unhappy marriages due to outside pressures (like a job loss or the demands of young children), the passage of time changed those circumstances. Things just naturally got better again.
- Working at it. Many of the problems in marriage are a result of poor communication. Some couples told the researchers they simply learned to take small steps – like listening to each other – which resulted in happier marriages. For example, husbands learned to compliment wives, and wives learned to encourage husbands.
- Personal happiness/perspective change in one spouse. Sometimes, one spouse simply decided not to base all of his or her happiness on the mood of the other spouse. Instead, one spouse took up a hobby or simply made an attitude adjustment that allowed him or her to be more patient and accepting of the other.
- Credible threat of consequences for bad behavior. Some of the marriages were initially very unhappy because the husbands were engaged in “bad behaviors” – out late drinking with the boys, infidelity or even occasional abuse.While women are also known to exhibit these negative behaviors, in this particular study it was the men who were “misbehaving.” Just as Dr. James Dobson advises in his book Love Must Be Tough, these wives took firm action and let their husbands know they would not tolerate such behavior. The husbands changed.
Put the Pieces of Your Marriage Back Together
You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.