We’ve just come through the traditional season of weddings. A couple runs through the gauntlet of bird seed, rice or bubbles to a waiting car and new life. But what habits they form that might be a predictor of divorce?
Some things couples do are completely predictable when it comes to divorce — things like having affairs, being abusive, struggling with an addiction, etc. But, a family law firm put together a list that might not be so obvious.
After listening to the stories of people going through divorce, here are a couple of their points.
How did you begin your marriage? Did you have a big wedding? Did you feel pressured to spend and make it an event that everyone talks about for years?
Well, the law firm found that spending big on a wedding can be a predictor of divorce. Those who spent over $20,000 on a wedding were more likely to divorce than those who held back the costs. Since the average cost of a wedding these days in $25,500, this means that a lot of people are beginning married life in debt. And that is the connection — starting out with financial stress. Add to this, college debt that many couples bring to marriage and you have financial pressures that stress the relationship.
The fix: Watch your wedding costs and be sensible. Yes, weddings are hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime event, but you don’t need to compete with social media for the most incredible wedding ever. Consider your finances and throw a wedding in your budget.
Another predictor is having daughters. This was based on a 2010 study that couples were more likely to stay together with boys than girls based on this factor — moms were more prone to leave a marriage with their daughters when the relationship was going downhill. I know this sounds crazy, right? But, this was based on women wanting to set a good example for their daughters, so they were less willing to put up with problems they felt could damage their daughters. So, this predictor had to do with a willingness to stay or go based on the gender of your children and the perceived affect it could have with daughters identifying with their moms.
The fix: Show your daughters how a strong woman works through difficult marital problems. And if there is abuse, children of both genders need protection.
One more has to do with living in a city and your commute time. The lawyers found that a commute longer than 45 minutes puts you at risk for divorce.
The stress related to this point has to do with being cranky and upset over the stress of the commute. When you deal with traffic and long rides, you don’t enter the household in the best mood!
The fix: Take public transportation and listen to calming music, podcasts, and uplifting media to put you in a great state of mind. Carpool and enjoy the company of others (choose your carpool friends carefully or this can add stress). And if you are in traffic, listen to podcasts and accept the reality that this is a cost of a great job! Change your thinking; change your mood.
And, don’t forget. You have other choices. Move closer to work or find work closer to home. Work should not come before the priority of protecting your marriage.
Now, I realize that none of the above will cause a marriage to break up. The lawyers were simply trying to point out that stress comes in all types of ways that can put pressure on a marriage if not handled well. So, be aware of all the areas in your relationship that can stress you as a couple and take care of business.
–Dr. Linda Mintle, Therapist & Author