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The Preventability of Divorce

Whenever I declare that there are things worth learning about how to succeed at marriage, I risk offending good friends and even relatives who have divorced. Divorce is often painful, almost always life-disrupting. How cruel to even suggest it wasn't necessary and the result of a bad match-up of partners.

I was thinking about this earlier today and how similar it is to a business failure. There is a point in any business at which almost nothing can be done to stop its bankruptcy or its failure to successfully reorganize even with the protection of the bankruptcy laws.

Sometimes that point comes in the first month of business, when someone releases a product that makes your brand new buggy whip no longer relevant to most buyers or when terrorists blow up a building in the neighborhood of your new restaurant.

Sometimes it comes when an unprecedented season of forest fires spares your store, only to fill it later with mud and rain and ash during a promotion you planned for months.

But sometimes it comes before you open for business, when you might have done something about it if you knew better. If your teachers and mentors had ever talked to you about the difference between profit and cash flow or the importance of market research and test marketing, you might have been prepared for what sank it. Your legislators and government could have alerted you to laws that made your plans a lot more expensive than you ever guessed.

Or that point of inevitable failure may come when you fail to recognize a turning point and change course. If only you had thought to bring on a team of advisors or hire experienced executives when your business took off faster than you expected, presenting you with non-stop challenges well beyond your current abilities, the business failure might not have happened. If only someone had told you that it's much, much easier to hire on customer-facing employees with an inate urge to make people happy than to train anyone else to provide great customer service to angry customers, that quality control blip would not have been fatal to your business.

I do not in any way blame anyone for walking away when marriage becomes more painful than they can bear. I was ready to do it myself in my first marriage. I do not blame anyone for staking out their separate, disconnected territory in a marriage they don't want to end but can't bear continuing as is. It is how my parents survived 50+ years together. And I surely don't expect anyone to stick around and endure torture or even the threat of physical violence in their own home.

I just don't want anyone else to get to any of those points because they didn't know what to do back when it wasn't yet inevitable.


You're a breath of fresh air! I'm sick of so-called marriage counselors who advise a twisted form of what I like to call co-independence. Why do counselors seem to have an investment in making couples break up? What is your handle on Twitter? I don't see it here on your blog and it should be there because I want to recommend this website and people to follow what you have to say!

I am honored. Thank you. And I guess it is time to add my Twitter ID over there on the right. For now, I will put it here: @married.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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