LAKE OCONEE — Every marriage has its ups and downs. The highs and lows may vary in duration and intensity. Some people during the course of their marriage ask the question, “is this good enough?” Expectations, realistic or not, do not appear to be met. There may be a call to freedom, to independence, to wonder “is the grass is greener... “ Should I get divorced?
Dr. Paul Amato, of Penn State University has input here. He conducted a twenty-year study involving 2000 subjects who started off married. He found that 55 to 60 percent of divorcing couples discarded unions with real potential. He concluded that, “Many of these marriages would improve over time and most of them could be strengthened through marital counseling.”
Is your marriage “good enough” or fixable if you are dissatisfied? Ginger Tobias has written an interesting article in which she asks ten provocative questions of herself as she reflected on the state of her marriage. Perhaps you might ask the same questions of yourself.
- Am I exaggerating the negatives and not seeing the positives?
- Have I already left the marriage by emotionally withdrawing? Given up attempts to make it better?
- Am I staying in the marriage because I am afraid to be alone and start over? Convinced that this is the best I can do?
- Is it truly necessary that my spouse change? Can that person do it?
- Have I been negligent in addressing/confronting my spouse about behaviors I find offensive or lacking?
- Do we have fun together? Could I make time and effort to do so?
- Am I an avoider of conflict?
- Do I need more alone time? Might that be worked out in my marriage?
- Has there been something significant or traumatic that has thrown our marriage off track? Can the momentum be reversed toward a solid marriage?
- Have I done everything possible to make this marriage work? Have I tried counseling? If my partner won’t go will I try it?
After asking herself these questions, Ms. Tobias concludes: “For me the most clarity has come from thinking of marriage not as a noun, or a state of being, but as a verb, as in what ‘I do’ (you say those words for a reason), and therefore something I can do better.”
Ms. Tobias’s questions and committed attempt to make her marriage “good enough” demonstrate a healthy approach to enhancing her marriage. I particularly like the “I DO” aspect. In relationship counseling, after I listen to the grievance lists of what is “wrong” with one’s partner, I ask each person to look in the mirror and point the finger at oneself and ask what s/he can do better. Both individuals need to be aware, committed, and do what they are capable of in order to have a marriage that is “good enough.”
There are marriages that are not “good enough” and even with all the above efforts cannot be salvaged. Perhaps “due diligence” before marriage could have averted this painful condition. If your marriage is struggling may you make every effort to make it be “good enough”. Whatever the outcome your conscience will be clear that you have made every effort.
Dr. Stathas can be reached at (706) 473-1780. E-mail: Stathas@plantationcable.net.