Find a Reason to Stay Together

Depositphotos_3918231_xsIf you haven’t noticed, I’m a big fan of marriage. I’m like the person who finds a reason to root for their favorite team, even if their team isn’t doing so well.

But many of the people who come to my office thinking about divorce can’t find a reason to root for the team. They can’t find a reason to stay together.

It’s difficult to find a reason to stay married when your feeling the accumulation of hurt, neglect, anger, betrayal, and general ill will. But I encourage couples to look hard to find a reason to stay together. That’s not to say that I want people to stay in bad marriages. My faith tells me that God is no more happy with a bad marriage then He is with a divorce. But too often, People believe they only have two choices: stay in a bad marriage or get divorced. So they quit looking for another option.

But there is a viable third option…improve the marriage. Now before you start pleading your case, let me say that I know this is not always possible. I know it takes two to make a marriage good, and in cases of on-going betrayal, abuse, and emotional harm, improving the marriage may not be possible.

Still, believing that improving the marriage can be possible will encourage you to keep looking for a reason to stay together.

Let me offer some reasons you can latch onto when its hard to find a reason to stay together. (Disclaimer – this is not intended for those who are currently experiencing abuse and domestic violence. If that is you, you need to remove yourself from the situation until it is truly rectified.)

  • RESEARCH – An article entitled “Does Divorce Make People Happy?” boils down findings from a study on unhappy marriages.  The authors of the article state, “the study found no evidence that unhappily married adults who divorced were typically any happier than unhappily married people who stayed married.” Then the authors state, “Even more dramatically,  the researchers found that “two-thirds of unhappily married spouses who stayed married reported that their marriages were happy five years later.”  I encourage you to click on the link above and check it the article.
  • ODDS – Although the numbers vary, depending on who’s issuing them, the stats say that the divorce rate tends to be higher for those who have divorced and remarried.  The National Stepfamily Resource Center states that 42% of all marriages are a remarriage for one or both people. They go on to say that 60% of those who re-marry will re-divorce. Those are not good odds.
  • CHILDREN – I do not think that staying together for the kids is ultimately the best reason for staying together, but it’s certainly one of the reasons and it is a good reason. In an article for entitled “The Effect of Divorced Parents on a Child’s Future Relationships”, author Shannon Philpott quotes author and California-based psychotherapist Christina Steinorth’s book, “Cue Cards for Life: Thoughtful Tips for Better Relationships.” According to this article, Steinorth indicates that daughters of divorced parents have a 60% higher divorce rate in marriage than children of non-divorced parents, and sons have a 35% higher divorce rate. In another article entitled “5 Side Effects of Divorce on Chirldren,”  the author list the following as the top 5 side effects on children of Divorced Parents: Anxiety, Pessimism, Trust Issues, Social Issues, and Performance. I’m sure you can find people who would argue this, and I’m not saying that kids that go through their parents’ divorce can never have whole and happy lives. They can. But no one would argue that it’s much harder for them and they will always be left with something they have to work against.
  • LEGACY – Knowing that your decisions are leaving a legacy can help you try to find a reason to stay together. A marriage that goes the distance leaves a legacy, not just for your children but for many others who need to see that. Again, I know that sometimes that’s not possible, but even if you cannot prevent a divorce, thinking about the kind of legacy you want to leave can move you to better handle the separation and divorce.

These are some reasons to latch onto when you need some motivation to stay together. Use these as motivation to try anything and everything you can to stay together…short of putting yourself in harms way and subjecting yourself to abuse. Then, even if the marriage ends, you don’t have to second-guess yourself by asking, “Was there anything else I could have done?”

This is not meant to induce guilt on those who have been through divorce. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do. As I said before, it takes two people to make a good marriage. This post is just an encouragement to do everything you can to avoid the irreversible pain of divorce. As comedian Louis C.K. says, “Marriage may be temporary, but divorce is forever.”

I would be interested in your response to this post. Maybe you have other reasons to add. Maybe you don’t agree with something I said. Whatever it might be, leave a comment and let me know.

Copyright © 2014 Bret Legg

8 thoughts on “Find a Reason to Stay Together”

  1. I am a person whose parents divorced and went through a divorce. My marriage has had some really rough spots and there was talk of divorce at one point. Our main motivation at the time was to try and work it out for our kids. It worked and things are much better, even stronger. I believe because of the first divorce, I was more determined to keep this marriage together. I felt like a huge failure when my first marriage ended and I never want to feel that again. I was younger and immature the first time around and did not value marriage as much as I do today. I want to provide a legacy of a good marriage with for my boys.

    Taking the “easy” way out is pushed by the world. If you don’t like something, just get out of it. There is not an outside push for commitment. There are so many shows on TV that portray the happy moments of getting married, like buying the dress and planning a wedding, You notice there are no shows on how to live as a divorced couple. No one wants to see that.

    • I’m grateful to hear that you’ve not just stayed together in this marriage, but also that it’s better and stronger than ever. This most definitely leaves a legacy for your children. The determination to not got through divorce again certainly can be another reason to stay together

      We do live in a world of “the easy way out.” Though I don’t believe anyone really thinks divorce is easy, I think we want to believe it’s easier than what we’re currently facing or easier than correcting the current situation. Either way, divorce is probably one of the most difficult things a person can experience.

      Thanks for weighing in.

  2. My husband and I struggle continually. I have always felt we should have gotten divorced. Now I think though that we should have but we have struggled this long we might as well keep going instead of struggling on my own or with another person. The only thing is there is something that someone said once that stays with me about kids. “Is it better for kids to COME from a broken home or LIVE in a broken home?”

    • I want to be very careful not to give trite or trivial advice here. Every person’s situation is personal and unique. So let me give you some general thoughts, and you can decide how you would want to apply them.

      Some struggling is a normal part of marriage. Different seasons and stages of marriage present their own set of struggles and challenges. Struggling in marriage is not necessarily bad. It can prompts us to change and grow.

      The problem comes when struggles go unresolved. Then they tend to compound and it feels like “the mountain is too big to scale or get around.” As I said in the post, I don’t believe that God is any more more pleased with people accepting a bad marriage then He is with people accepting divorce. I honestly believe that every issue, no matter how dire it might be, can be met and conquered when an husband and wife are willing to turn in faith and attack it together. Even if one spouse doesn’t seem to be interested in working on things, I still believe the other spouse can make a strong positive impact when they are willing to apply their faith and become the person they need to be. Again, I know it’s hard and that it doesn’t always work out that way, but I truly believe it’s always possible.

      When it comes to kids either coming from a broken home or living in a broken home…I don’t believe that it’s good for kids to do either. I believe it’s best for kids to live in a home where they see their parents butt heads and struggle some, but work through their stuff and get better and stronger. This kids security that not only their parents can work through problems, but also that they will be able to do the same thing if needed. If you’re the only parent that seems to be working on things, Then you are at least setting an example for your kids in personal responsibility and faith.

      Again, I feel the need to say that you should not tolerate anything that is abusive and emotionally destructive, but often it’s more of a case where spouses/parents have simply allowed things to gradually grow uncivil and unhappy.

      My heart goes out to you, and I pray for more light and hope in the marriage.

      • Thank you. I have always valued your advice and opinions. My main struggle with being a “good example” because I have girls is coming across as weak to them. They know I don’t accept or agree with a lot with my husband, but am committed. Society today seems to say a loving and submitted wife is weak and walked on. Yes, I want them to be strong but God should be their rock and trouble in marriage shouldn’t change that. Even coming toe to toe in conflict and seeing that I should back down because in the long run it wouldn’t really matter IS strength and God is my comforter in that situation. I guess I am saying that relying on God sometimes comes across as weakness in a world of “stand up for yourself and don’t take nothing from no one”

    • I do not know you nor do I know the ages of your children, so I am hoping I do not offend you. My parents divorced when I was 5 and both remarried. There has always been a struggle to try to keep things fair. Fast forward to now and my siblings and I have to find a way to visit everyone during the holidays, birthday parties for children have to be arranged to avoid awkwardness, and there is always some kind of jealously involved. It is absolutely impossible to do any of this without hurting someone’s feelings. Again, I do not know you and you can take this for what it is worth, but I just wanted to weigh in. Praying for you.

      • They are 20, 17, and 14. They are watching carefully and voicing opinions regularly now. With 2 of them married they are understanding to some point and also are seeing that “getting out” is not a good option usually. I find it extremely difficult to watch them see their dad from adult eyes. I am sad to say they are all growing to really not like him from his own doings and I can’t do anything about it because when you see who someone truly is without the little girl looking up to their father attitude it truly hurts.

        • As with most things, the truth is found somewhere between being a bulldozer and being a door mat. I believe the key is to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15.) This seems to be what Jesus did. No one could accuse him of either being a bulldozer or a door mat. Yeah, there were those who were resistant and unmovable, but that due to the hardness of their hearts not Jesus’ approach. And that hardness of heart has it’s consequences…like your children loosing some respect for you. I agree that this is hard to watch, but you can’t be responsible for the relationship he has with them. That’s his responsibility. Continue to strive for truth in love. Both components are important and will help keep you between the ditches.


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