Updated: Apr 14
Whether you are married or planning to get married someday, it pays to reflect on and understand the facts of what works and what doesn’t.
As long as marriage is a goal in our society, so, too, will be divorce. In the same way that studying marriage and why people pair-up, it’s just as important to understand why marriages don’t last and why people split-up.
Unfortunately, 40% of marriages fail, either ending in divorce and separation or devolving into bitterness and dysfunction.
Here are some common causes of divorce:
Money – Although lack of money is very stressful, couples that struggle with money often fight about everything else while missing the elephant in the room. Money issues and perspective can be deeply rooted in trauma and psychological beliefs about money and one’s sense of self. The ability to have an open discussion and stay focused on the real issue is not easy but can be done. "Crystal Clear Course" course.
Affairs - When someone steps outside of their marriage, they break the trust. This can be re-built depending on the circumstances and the couple’s willingness to forgive and move forward. I’ve known people to do it but you really have to be able to see the value in the bigger picture and the ability to discuss why it happened in the first place, to rebuild trust and love.
Sex - When couples struggle feeling comfortable with sex or when the sex is unfulfilling, it can easily drive a wedge between two otherwise loving and compatible partners.
I have known some couples to find other ways to connect physically that is fulfilling for both, other than intercourse.
When you break it down to a science, it is vital to be pro-active in learning what works in the relationship process.
I honestly feel it comes down to the commitment to each other and the commitment to talk openly about what you need in the relationship and come up with a solution/option that you both can live with.
Science says lasting relationships come down to—kindness and generosity.
Let’s see what Masters of Love has to say,
By Emily Esfahani Smith
June 12, 2014
The Gottman Institute, which is devoted to helping couples build and maintain loving, healthy relationships based on scientific studies, set up the “Love Lab” with his colleague Robert Levenson at the University of Washington.
With a team of researchers, they hooked the couples up to electrodes and asked the couples to speak about their relationship, like how they met, what are some major conflicts they were facing together.
As they spoke, the electrodes measured the subjects’ blood flow, heart rates, and how much sweat they produced. After logging all the data, he then followed up with them six years later to see if they were still together.
Gottman separated the couples into two major groups: he called them the masters and the disasters.
The masters were still happily together after six years. The disasters had either broken up or were chronically unhappy in their marriages. While conducting the same electrode testing, the disasters looked calm during the interviews, but their physiology, measured by the electrodes, told a different story. Their heart rates were quick, their sweat glands were active, and their blood flow was fast. The problem was that the disasters showed all the signs of being in fight-or-flight mode in their relationships.
Having a conversation sitting next to their spouse was, to their bodies, like sitting next to a grizzly bear. Even when they were talking about pleasant or mundane facets of their relationships, their heart rate was elevated as if being prepared to attack and be attacked.
The masters, by contrast, showed low physiological stress. They felt calm and comfortable together, which translated into warm and affectionate behavior, even when they disagreed.
The masters had created a climate of trust and intimacy that made both of them more emotionally and physically comfortable.
After this data was collected Gottman designed a lab on the University of Washington campus to look like a beautiful bed-and-breakfast retreat for follow up study.
“Gottman invited 130 newlywed couples to spend the day at this retreat and watched them as they did what couples normally do on vacation: cook, clean, listen to music, eat, chat, and hang out. And he made a crucial discovery in this study—one that gets at the heart of why some relationships thrive while others languish.
Throughout the day, partners would make requests for connection, what Gottman calls “bids.” For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: He’s requesting a response from his wife—a sign of interest or support—hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird.
The wife now has a choice. She can respond by either “turning toward” or “turning away” from her husband, the question is whether his wife recognizes and respects the offer to connect with her husband showing interest and support of his interest in the bird.
Those who would not respond or responded minimally and continue doing whatever they were doing, like watching TV or reading the paper were predicted to not last staying together. Sometimes they would respond with overt hostility, saying something like, “Stop interrupting me, I’m reading.” neglecting small moments of emotional connection will slowly wear away at your ability to trust that that person has your best interest in mind.
These interactions had profound effects on marital well-being. The couples who were still together after six years had “turn-toward” 87 percent of the time. Nine times out of 10, they were meeting their partner’s emotional needs.
Much of it comes down to the spirit couples bring to the relationship. Do they bring kindness and generosity; or contempt, criticism, and hostility?
The Masters are scanning social environment for things they can appreciate and say ‘thank you’ for. They are being CURIOUS. (Kindness, glues couples together.)
The Disasters are scanning the social environment for partners’ mistakes.” JUDGMENT (And people who treat their partners with contempt and criticize them kill not only the love in the relationship, but also their partner’s ability to fight off viruses and cancers.) "Dating Traps Courses" course.
There are two ways to think about kindness. Either you have it or you don’t. Or you could think of kindness as a muscle. In some people, that ability to be kind is naturally stronger than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with practice. The first thing to help with this is you have to be aware of when you’re not being kind. A good relationship requires sustained self-awareness of how you perceive situations and issues and how to deal with them kindly.
The hardest time to practice kindness is, of course, during fight mode—but this is also the most important time to be kind if you want to maintain trust.
“Kindness doesn’t mean that we don’t express our anger,” Julie Gottman explained, “but the kindness informs how we choose to express the anger. You can insult and yell at your partner. Or you can own your perception of the situation and explain why you’re hurt and angry, while using the 10 steps to discussing an issue (Crystal Clear Communication) and that’s the kinder path.
Be careful with your assumption. Practicing kindness is by being generous about your partner’s intentions. From the research of the Gottmans, we know that disasters see negativity in their relationship even when it is not there. An angry wife may assume, for example, that when her husband left the toilet seat up, he was deliberately trying to annoy her. But he may have just absent-mindedly forgotten to put the seat down. “A lot of times, a partner is trying to do the right thing even if it’s executed poorly. So, appreciate the intent.”
It's one thing if you’re having a bad day, and not be able to step out of your own box for a moment to sympathize with someone when they are having a bad day and want to talk about it. It’s a complete other thing to not take a minute to celebrate something good with them.
One of the telltale signs of the disaster couples in Gottman studied was their inability to connect over each other’s good news. The psychologists found that the only difference between the couples who were together and those who broke up was active-constructive responding. Those who showed genuine interest in their partner’s joys were more likely to be together.
There are many reasons why relationships fail, but if you look at what drives the deterioration of many relationships, it’s often a breakdown of selfless kindness.
The spirit of kindness and the ability to think of the other person’s needs and wellbeing will guide and build love and trust in any relationship.