Thursday, June 25, 2009

Jon and Kate Part II

Wow! Lots of conversation about Jon and Kate.

There is no question there are a number of different aspects to this situation from unhappiness and infidelity to what is best for the children.

While I am not privy to all of the details of Jon and Kate's situation, having worked in the field of strengthening marriages and families for more than a decade, there isn't much I haven't heard.

So, here are some additional thoughts.

When a spouse is unhappy he/she often blames the marriage or the other person for causing their unhappiness, when in reality there are other things going on. For example, a national study of 10,000 couples asked them to rate their marriage from life in hell (1) to heaven on earth (7). The couples were interviewed twice, five years apart. The study found that most people rated their marriage as happy. Eighty-one percent of the couples who rated their marriage as life in hell were still together five years later. Out of that group, the majority said they were very happy after five years. During the tough times these couples said they were dealing with children, illness, bad things happening to good spouses, job loss, etc. (The Case for Waiting)

Based on my experience, I see many couples willing to throw in the towel on a perfectly good marriage that has just been derailed and needs help getting back on track.

Second, when infidelity is a factor in a marriage, most couples see that as the marriage is over, no questions asked.

According to research, 25 percent of women and 40 percent of men will have an extra-marital affair at some point in their marriage. (Affair-proofing Your Marriage) The good news is there are huge numbers of marriages that don't just survive affairs, they are significantly better than they were before the affair. The key to a marriage surviving an affair lies in its good marital history. If 20 percent of a couple's history is simultaneously viewed as positive by both spouses, they have a better than 90 percent chance of making it. (Can A Marriage Survive an Affair)

Third, there is no debate that divorce impacts children. Even in situations where divorce seems to be the lesser of two evils, children and adults pay a price.

According to Dr. Judith Wallerstein, author of The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, "Divorce is a life-transforming experience. After divorce, childhood is different, adolescence is different, adulthood - with the decision to marry or not and have children or not - is different. (The Legacy of Divorce)

Granted, there are some instances, ie. abuse, where divorce seems to be the best answer. But, the reality is only 30 percent of divorces are due to high conflict, abusive situations. Seventy percent of divorces are low-conflict marriages where people become disconnected and fall out of love.

We cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that all involved - dad, mom, children, friends, neighbors, grandparents, co-workers, etc. will be impacted for a life time when a divorce occurs. Therefore, I do not believe that this is a decision that should be made lightly or quickly.

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