Call me an optimist, but in the midst of all the horrendous economic news, I see a silver lining. Despite people’s lives being threatened by job loss, foreclosures and having trouble making ends meet, increasing numbers of couples are opting to stay together and make their marriages work. Why? Because they have to, that’s why. Couples simply don’t have enough money to hire attorneys, engage in protracted legal battles or even live in separate quarters. In short, they’re staying together for the sake of the cash. “Unromantic, bad reason to stick it out,” you say? Maybe, but don’t jump to hasty conclusions. Although financial hardship can’t be the only glue holding two people together, it can certainly be a place to start.
I wish I had a dollar for each time a couple in my practice decide to stay together simply for pragmatic reasons- the sake of the kids, professional reasons, fear of being alone or even lack of motivation to begin divorce proceedings- and over time, things in their marriage improve to the point where there is a strong sense of relief that they narrowly averted marital disaster. I’d be independently wealthy if I had. But don’t just take my word for it.
In Maggie Gallagher’s well-respected and comprehensive book, The Case for Marriage, she highlights an interesting study that supports the idea of slowing things down when considering divorce. Couples who report that their marriages were at the bottom of the scale on marital satisfaction were asked to rate their marriages again five years later. The study found that 86% of these couples reported high marital satisfaction scores. Why the changes? They weren’t completely sure, however, it appears that hanging in there for better or for worse, not to mention for richer or poorer, can be a wait well worth its while.
So, I, for one, am all for speed bumps on the road to divorce. But make no mistake, I’m not proposing that people stay together and be miserable. I’m just convinced that troubled marriages can transform into a great ones which may just be the biggest payoff of all.
Michele Weiner Davis is the creator of the Divorce Busting Centers, learn more on how you can solve marriage problems and stop divorce. Follow me on Twitter @divorcebusting, add my Divorce Busting Facebook Page, and subscribe to the Divorce Busting YouTube Videos for more advice and upcoming marriage saving events.