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Not True! Marriage Ends When...

I just read this quote about marriage in the Times of Malta:

Marriage does not end with divorce but the moment a couple stops loving and respecting each other, Michael and Juliet Mifsud believe.

They are a happily married couple, married for 16 years. They are both Catholics, but they favor a divorce law, the subject of a referendum in Malta yesterday.

I do not disagree with the Mifsuds about the value of a divorce option. What I am hopping up and down about is their notion that the moment a couple stops loving and respecting each other marks the end of their marriage.

This drives me mad because I see it so often. Couples stop loving and respecting each other all the time. The ones who believe loving and respecting lie outside their control give up when it happens. The rest learn how to deal with it.

Awesome Quora answer tweet

Someone asked this very question on Quora last week, and the good folks at Quora called my answer "awesome" on Twitter. Even so, you will see Quora users voted up an anonymous answer that includes this: "Life isn't a fairytale, and not all love is forever."

No question about this. Not all love is forever. But know that restoring love (and respect) may take no effort, just a different perspective. Know that 80% of couples who stay married through a time when they are unhappy or very unhappy find themselves happy or very happy five years later.

While you feel no love or respect or feel you receive no love or respect, marriage can feel awful. If you do nothing, you may squander an awful lot of your happiness and your kids' security. But do not fall into the trap I fell into. Divorce is not the only option here. If you can think of no others, reach out, because they exist.

I believe marriage ends when one of you will no longer consider reconnecting. You can be this one, or you can be the one who believes love is not just something you feel, it is something you do.


Marriage is chemistry + history. All relationships develop over time and it requires commitment that is continually renewed. It quickly grows from "what can you do for me" to "what can you and I do together". It is oneness that results from working through the fire together, like a welder's torch.

I've recently been reading a book about love and respect (called "Love and Respect" actually) and the author, who is a Christian, says that love and respect are supposed to be unconditional. He says according to the Bible, Jesus commanded us to love one another. He didn't command us to feel anything. And if my wife doesn't make me feel respected (what he says a guy's primary need is) I still must love her, and vice versa.

I am no expert on what Jesus commands, Markus, but I do like Emerson Eggerich's book on love and respect ( Men, he says, stop showing love when they do not feel respected, and women stop showing respect when they do not feel loved. We do it because we have no idea we have different relationship needs. He says one of us must take our foot off the other's air hose, or we'll both continue to thrash about, trying to get what we need in ways that don't work. Thanks for reminding us, Markus.

Personally I think a lot about why marriages break. We are married for 5 years now. We have seen loads of ups and down. But we have made a commitment that we will not drop the ball. Both of us felt that it is hopeless to try in number of occasions but never dropped the ball. Both appreciated the difference in our view. The point is that we are two different individuals , we just need the respect the difference.

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

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