Marriage and the Risk of Divorce


Five years from now, you will be a different person. You will have different interests, different tastes, different challenges.
Date, live together, avoid commitment, and you’ll be free to move on to a partner who shares your new interests, matches your new tastes, helps with your new challenges.
That’s the choice of many who were exposed to unhappy marriages or divorce while growing up or whose own first marriage ended up in divorce.
I think there’s a better choice. Commit — not to a person who shares all your current interests or tastes, but to someone who shares your most important values. Don’t just promise to stay — invest in the relationship. Build wealth together. Invest in each other’s dreams. Make each other’s family your own. Tend to each other’s health and wellbeing. Set some joint goals.
What’s the payoff? The excitement of new interests and tastes introduced into your life by someone who shares your values, cares about you, loves to see you happy, and sees the world just a bit differently from you. The grounded feeling that comes from being intertwined and rooted as you grow, instead of being blown this way and that by people coming and going in your life. The security of support through your rough patches from someone who knows they will be just a small part of your time together. The warmth of doing the same for a loved one. The extra time and money freed up by working together instead of independently and self-protectively.
This is big. It’s not just worth the risk of divorce; it’s the antidote protecting you from divorce. You’ll never get even a glimpse of what’s possible as long as you’re focused on your current needs or on keeping your exit easy if your needs are not met.
You know how to Assume Love, Expect Love, and Find Third Alternatives now — or you will as soon as you rummage through the archives here. You know how to take care of a marriage. You know how to avoid unmet needs, hurt feelings, and unnecessary anger or worry. You know you can’t grow apart when you’re growing together, when you’re attuned to your spouse and your interests are changing in response to all of the wonderful new things this person brings into your life. You’re all set to make the next five years fantastic ones.
And if kids enter your life, planned or unplanned, there’s one more huge payoff. You get to offer them what you may never have had: a parent who loves and finds great happiness in the other most important person in their child’s life.

About the author

Patty Newbold

I am a widow who got it right the second time. I have been sharing here since February 14, 2006 what I learned from that experience and from positive psychology, marriage research, and my training as a marriage educator.


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  • I understand everything saidbut what do you do when the mere sound of your spouses voice makes you sick. I fully agree with doing everthing possible especially when kids are involved but there comes a point when the difference between two people becomes to much to overcome.
    my blog chronicles the disaster of divorce and the effect on everyone involved.

  • Cory, I think you answer your own question very well in your blog, when you say, “My Advice to anyone unhappy in a marriage is to deal with it.”
    Long before we get to the point of being unable to stand the sound of our wife’s or husband’s voice, we’ve had lots and lots of opportunities to notice our unhappiness and deal with it.
    This blog offers ideas on what we can do to find more happiness and rebuild a marriage, even up to the point where we must relearn to enjoy the sound of his or her voice.
    As you say, “Either fix it or get out, and if you decide to get out, do it fast and hard.” An affair is highly unlikely to succeed in improving your life. Playing doormat is another strategy highly unlikely to succeed. Both can lead to a great deal more unhappiness and make the journey back to a healthy marriage so much harder. And while you’re trying them, you’re growing the bitterness which often erupts during a divorce.
    I am very glad for the blog about your divorce, Cory. It makes clear that choosing to get out often means getting out of the frying pan into the fire. This blog is about the other option: fixing your unhappiness. For many of us, it’s a very real option.

  • Patty-Thanks for your response. It is so hard to paint a complete picture of what was/is going on but I can tell you my response was wrong…the affair and the waffling about the issues. I have learned a very valuable and expensive lesson. I will never ignore that inner voice again. The one positive out of all this is we all deserve second a chance and I can promise you the second time around I will not make those same mistakes.
    If it were not for my mental and physical ailments I would have been in a much better position to handle the situation. That may sound like a cop-out but I know how much I have changed through this experience.

  • May you get your second chance, Cory. And may someone currently hearing “once a cheater, always a cheater” from well-meaning friends understand from your story that often “once a cheater, forever changed” is another possibility.

Patty Newbold

I am a widow who got it right the second time. I have been sharing here since February 14, 2006 what I learned from that experience and from positive psychology, marriage research, and my training as a marriage educator.

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