No one thinks about divorce when a couple say their “I do’s” at the wedding, but maybe they should. A wedding is a celebration of two people declaring their love and commitment to each other, but the divorce rate in the United States is relatively high. CDC statistics on marriage and divorce show that for 2,118,000 marriages, roughly half of them will end in divorce.
We can see the reality of how marriages can easily end in divorce, but don’t let those statistics scare you. There are ways to prevent divorce and maintain a healthy relationship, including some great research from Dr. John Gottman, who has been compiling data for over 20 years.
“Predictors of early divorce are criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling as well as later predictors of emotional withdrawal and lack of positive affect during conflict,” he says. That statement lets us make the assumption that managing conflict in a positive way is the key to healthy, long-term, committed relationships. If the couple can create healthy ways to ease conflict before saying, “I do,” they have a better start when issues arise after they’re married.
Along these same lines, having a healthy friendship with your spouse before getting married would be a way to create a solid foundation. It’s pretty obvious why marrying someone you consider to be a best friend would be great advice. Being able to create a strong friendship before marriage would help the partners grow and learn as a couple.
In his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, which is a great resource, Gottman says having a friendship can aid a marriage.
Learning and discussing relationship skills can help during times of conflict, because you’ll have the communication tools needed to work through your issues. Individuals can understand their own challenges and create new habits even before entering a relationship. It’s also useful to look at this research and understand what a healthy relationship looks like before you’re even in one. Knowing what is positive can help you see if you need additional work in certain areas and seek out a trained professional to make some positive changes.
Preventing divorce occurs before the marriage. It can be as simple as learning ways to resolve conflict, manage your own emotional states, share feelings and thoughts in positive ways, create connection with your partner through friendship and ensure negative patterns of communication are not occurring.
There are many resources, such as premarital counseling and individual therapy, to help you on your way to wedded bliss. Learning and reading about positive and healthy relationships before you say, “I do,” will prevent later cracks in the relationship. Being able to understand yourself and your emotions before getting into a relationship will help the relationship get off to a healthy start.