“Should I Fix the One I’ve Got Or Get A New One?”

“Should I Fix the One I’ve Got Or Get A New One?”

“Cars.  Dishwashers.  Houses.  Televisions.  Phones.  These eventually beg the question, “Should I fix the one I’ve got or get a new one?”  It’s not always clear, and often we make more of an emotional decision than a rational decision.  If we really want something new, we can always find the rationale for it.  “There’s too many miles on this one.”  “It doesn’t clean like it used to.”  “It doesn’t have all the features I want.”  “It’s not as sharp as it used to be.”  “It doesn’t respond like it used to.”

I’ve watched many spouses wrestle with this decision in marriage.  “Should I fix the one I’ve got or get a new one?”  It’s an emotional decision, often using the same type of rationale:  “There’s too many miles on this one.”  “It doesn’t clean like it used to.”  “It doesn’t have the features I want.”  “It’s not as sharp as it used to be.”  “It doesn’t respond like it use to.”

Ending a marriage typically leads to replacing a marriage, and marriage is not meant to be replaced like cars or dishwashers.  I know that people ending a marriage will usually say they’re not going to get into another relationship, but they almost always do.

It may be hard to believe, but rarely is there anything big enough to warrant ending a marriage.  Even when there’s infidelity and abuse, a marriage can overcome and be stronger…as long as the guilty party is repentant and the offense does not continue.  I know this to be true, because I have helped many couples work through such things and come out better for it.

If it’s possible, it’s always better to work on the marriage you’ve got, than to replace it.

  • You already have history together, and it’s not all bad.  You have some good memories and experiences to build on.  Building a new foundation from scratch with someone else will have added problems and require a lot more time and effort.  Then there’s no guarantee that the next marriage will be better.
  • You already know the problems in this marriage.  You don’t know the problems in the next…and trust me, there will be problems there too.  I believe the devil you know is better than the one you don’t.  No surprises.
  • It’s easier for you to repair your marriage than for your kids to recover from your divorce.   Whether four, twenty-four, or thirty-four, your kids will be affected by your divorce.  The probability of their marriage ending in divorcing will increase, and they will have increased concerns and uncertainties about marriage, trust, and commitment.
  • You’ve contributed something to your  marital problems, so why not fix that first and see what happens?  Both spouses contribute to marital issues.  Your contribution may only be 5%, but it still needs to be corrected or you will carry it into the next relationship.  So why not correct it now and see if it will produce positive changes in your current marriage.  You might save yourself the trauma of divorce.
  • For Christians, it’s clear God would rather you repair a bad marriage.  When Scripture says God hates divorce, it’s because He hates the pain it brings.  Instead of condemning divorce, God would rather prevent it and improve marriages.  If you believe God not only created marriage but has the plan to guide it and power to repair it…why not give Him a shot.

So, what should you do if you’re trying to decide whether to fix the old one or get a new one?  Talk to a pastor.  See a counselor.  Work on yourself.  Make changes.  You may have tried all this, but try again.  You can’t do everything to keep your marriage together, but make sure you do as much as you can.

You may be reading this and thinking, “I hear you, but there’s already been too much damage done.”  If that’s you, consider this…

Suppose you severely broke your leg.  The surgeon tells you that there are multiple breaks and that the situation is very drastic.  Then the surgeon tells you there are two options:

  1. He  can repair the leg, but it will not be easy.  There will be surgery, much pain, and a very long rehab.  But in the end, you will be able to walk and run and enjoy the things you love.
  2. He can cut off your leg.  This too will require surgery, be painful and include a lot of rehab.  In the end, you’ll be able to do some things, but not everything.

And by the way, both options will be costly.  Which option would you choose?

I know that’s a loaded question.  Please know that I’m not trying to be heavy-handed or guilt inducing.  I’m not trying to gloss over all the complicated scenarios that are out there.  I’m not saying every marriage can be saved.  And I’m certainly not implying that anyone makes such a decision lightly.  I’m just trying to stress thinking long and hard and long again before you answer the question, “Should I fix the one I’ve got or get a new one?”

This is a difficult subject, and I would appreciate your comments on this.  Positive or negative, tell me what you think.

Copyright © 2014 Bret Legg

10 thoughts on ““Should I Fix the One I’ve Got Or Get A New One?”

  1. My husband and I went through a really rough patch in 2010-2011 and actually mentioned divorce to each other. There was a betrayal of trust on both sides. I even had a consultation with an attorney. Imaging the looks on our boys faces (7 and 5) if we told them we were divorcing was all we needed to push forward into counseling. A lot of honesty came out in counseling sessions, things we had just figured were no big deal and not worth mentioning to the other. It was not easy and there are still twinges of distrust, but we now know our marriage is worth it. We love each other and communicate better. Every once in a while we have a “check up” counseling session. Our children have a sense of safety in our relationship and we want to protect that, as a sense of safety for them is absolutely priceless.

    • I remember seeing a study once where they tracked married couples who were unhappy. Through the course of the study, some wound up divorcing while others stayed together. At the end of the study, those that stayed together reported a higher level of happiness than those that divorced. It says nothing about the amount of work that went into keeping those marriages together, but it does speak to the potential for improving difficult marriages. So glad the two of you chose to push through and make things better.

      • So it is not the work that goes into keeping the marriage together? What does it? What did the study show was the end factor?

        • It is work that contributes to keeping a marriage together and good. Though the study was simply looking at the happiness levels of the two different groups, it’s safe to say that those who engaged in the tough work of keeping a marriage together wound up being happier. This is a general rule of thumb, and there are always extenuating circumstances and exceptions to this.

          • I let my first marriage go after only 2 years. I of course had my list of “justifications” and I would imagine he did also. Although divorce is something that God wants us to avoid, I still think I am better off in the marriage I am in now. My husband and I have been together for 16 years and will be married for 13 this June. His parents were married for over 50 years and my family has many divorces and fractions that I need a flowchart to explain it all. Sometimes I think bringing in both perspectives to a marriage may help. We see an example of how it worked out and the chaos that surrounds when it doesn’t. 🙂

          • 50 years! I love it. It is good to have a marriage that’s gone the distance to look to and strive for. Keep it up, and it will be 50 years for the two of you before you know it.

          • 50 years! I love it. It is good to have a marriage that’s gone the distance to look to and strive for. Keep it up, and it will be 50 years for the two of you before you know it.

          • 50 years! I love it. It is good to have a marriage that’s gone the distance to look to and strive for. Keep it up, and it will be 50 years for the two of you before you know it.

  2. I was really naive going into my marriage, knowing the past my husband had, but foolishly believing that it would be different for him, being married to me. He wouldn’t run around on me but he did. We actually worked through infidelity only for patterns, on both sides, not to change. My ex did not want counseling and when we divorced, I really thought it would be best for my son. Wow, what a surprise to know, that even kids with foolish parents, still yearn for that relationship. Now 17 years removed from that marriage, I have learned a few things that I can share with those struggling but unfortunately, I don’t think most will listen. I didn’t. Unfortunate how the enemy blinds us to wisdom from others who have gone through marital unrest.
    Bret, these are great points to be shared in love but also with diligent prayer for those who are blinded that there is no other choice. A few thoughts to add & I know there might be exceptions but:
    1. Our kids suffer emotionally for a lifetime. Separation & loss of a parent, being the pawn between divorced parents, having to make choices to please one parent or the other, hearing the worst of their parent from the other and more.
    2. With kids involved, you are generally always attached to your ex-spouse.
    3. Don’t be blinded that your ex-spouse will help with finances, even if ordered by the court. They’re starting over too and generally can’t support 2 families.
    4. If you do divorce, and you think you’re the injured party, still get help to sort your own baggage. Like you said Bret, whether you only contribute 5% of the problems in your marriage, if not worked out, you’ll carry it to the next relationship.
    5. Another person will not be your ultimate happiness. Only the Lord can teach us contentment in all circumstances.
    My current husband and I are remarriages with kids. We speak from experience. We are heading into year 6 with truly wedded bliss but we both know it’s because we serve a God of redemption and mercy and through HIM, we have and continue to work on sin habits that hinder us. If anyone would ever like to talk with me about this, I would love to be available for you.
    Sorry to stay on the soap box so long!

    • So glad you commented. These are strong and powerful things that need to be considered, and I’m so grateful that someone who’s been-there-done-that has invested the time to help us better understand something that’s really difficult and complicated. Thanks!

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