I live with my wife, Ellyn, over a major earthquake fault line in the San Francisco Bay area. It’s an area famous for past and inevitable future quake distasters. Geological experts predict another big one is coming. Be prepared.
Ellyn and I have stored a few bottles of water and a camping stove. Do you think that is sufficient?
Neither do the experts.
They say if we retrofit the foundation of our home we can withstand almost all but the most severe shake rattle and rolls.
Have we taken advantage of this knowledge? Or do we wait until disaster hits with the violence that could wreck our lives for years.
Apparently we suffer from a common human affliction: we procrastinate on things that require planning and effort.
How does this apply to your marriage?
A disaster is lurking for over 500,000 couples this year. And another 500,000 couples next year.
For most couples the disaster will be more devastating than an earthquake turning our house to rubble.
That disaster is called divorce.
This year there will be one million marriages in America. Half of those marriages that started with so much promise will crash and burn.
Most of those divorces will happen within four years of the bride and groom saying, “I do.”
Many of those disasters could have been prevented – just like earthquake-proofing our house. But most couples will not do the work.
They don’t make the effort to earthquake-proof their marriage. They procrastinate until each offense becomes a link in an emotional chain that coils about the marriage with an ever tightening grip. Choking the life out it and ending in divorce.
What happens when people decide to try again? The odds for divorce in a second marriage increase from 50% to close to 70%. That’s scary.
If people enter fray with a third marriage? The odds of coming out ahead in Las Vegas are better.
But I wouldn’t waste your time with a message of completely bad news. Of course I’m writing to offer a solution. And fortunately for the procrastinators, it doesn’t require that you do anything!
For once, I’m suggesting you do nothing to save your marriage!
It’s all about the proper attitude.
And what is it?
A positive attitude toward making a consistent effort to keep your marriage alive.
If both partners have the attitude, “I will do what is required of me,” (instead of asking, “what is required of my partner”) you will begin to earthquake-proof your marriage.
You will reinforce the foundation of your marriage so you can withstand the inevitable shocks, disillusionments, and emotional abrasions that tear apart the fabric of most marriages.
You will be working together – as a team. That means you both focus on helping the marriage succeed instead of trying to succeed individually at the expense of the other person.
How important is this approach? Just ask any of those couples who are getting divorced.
About Peter Pearson
Peter Pearson, Ph.D. and his wife, Dr. Ellyn Bader, founded The Couples Institute in 1984. Both are psychologists and directors of the Institute and have helped over a thousand couples in their work.
Pete is an engaging and dynamic therapist, speaker and writer. His work includes practical skills, advanced techniques in regulating difficult emotions and entertaining vignettes from his own marriage to demonstrate how some impasses are managed.
He has been featured in over 50 radio and television programs including "The Today Show" and "CBS Early Morning News," and quoted in publications including "The New York Times," "Oprah Magazine" and "Cosmopolitan." His popular book, "Tell Me No Lies," has been of critical help to many couples.
Tags: attitude, disaster, divorce, Las Vegas, newlywed, preparation Forward to a Friend