Articles for Married Couples

Everything listed under: divorce

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    Facebook and Divorce

    From America to Indonesia, the headlines read, "Facebook is Causing 20 Percent of Today’s Divorces."

    “When I heard the statistic, I did some research to find its source,” says Jason Krafsky. Krafsky co-authored Facebook and Your Marriage with his wife, Kelli. “It turns out that an online divorce firm in the UK sent out a press release stating that Facebook was cited in 1-in-5 divorce petitions. What got lost in the hundreds of articles it sparked was the research came from only their divorce petition database.”

    To add fuel to the fire, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers surveyed its 1,600 members. They claimed that 81 percent of the nation’s top divorce attorneys saw an increase in cases using social networking evidence during the past five years. Despite the media hype, you didn't hear the whole truth there, either. In reality, not all divorce attorneys completed the survey - just AAML members.

    “There were additional pieces that created even more confusion,” Krafsky says. “Suffice it to say this was like a big game of worldwide gossip and by the time the big media guns picked up the story the headline read, ‘Facebook Blamed for One in Five Divorces in U.S.’ The truth is, there is no valid research, study or collection of data at this point that accurately reveals how many divorces have been caused by Facebook. Until someone does legitimate research, trying to attach a number or percentage to what is happening only fuels an urban myth that is blazing out of control.”

    Clearly, Facebook impacts relationships of all kinds. Some marriages are breaking apart due to Facebook-related activity. Some married people use Facebook to live out their midlife crisis. For others, unexpected feelings and emotions when friending or interacting with an old flame catches them off guard. It can happen to the strongest of marriages.

    “I remember the day my wife walked into the room and said, ‘Guess who I just friended on Facebook?’ I asked who, and she said, ‘My first love.'

    "There was something about that statement that just hit me wrong," Krafsky shares. "I didn’t think Kelli would intentionally do anything inappropriate, but something in my gut said this wasn’t a good thing. It was shortly thereafter that we had a discussion about boundaries on Facebook to protect our marriage. We decided to unfriend past exes. This scenario prompted the writing of our book.”

    The Krafskys warn people that if you don’t have good boundaries, social networking sites are dangerous places to hang out.

    “Couples need to talk face-to-face and set up guidelines for their online time to protect their relationship from cyber-threats,” Krafsky says. “It is not enough to have good intentions. Most affairs do not start because someone says to himself, ‘I think I’ll have an affair.’ They start out very innocently.

    "Don’t fool yourself. You cannot friend an old flame and not take a trip down memory lane, thinking about what you did together in high school. We never forget that adolescent romantic love. Limit your time online and focus on taking your marriage relationship to the next level. While Facebook may not be the cause of 20 percent of all divorces, what some people are unknowingly doing through Facebook is undermining their marriage and putting their family at risk.”

    Need some guidance in creating good, strong boundaries for your marriage? 

    Check out this hefty DIGITAL E-BOOK by Marriage Researchers & Therapists


    Inside, you'll find:

    • How to talk to your spouse about opposite-sex friends
    • What a good boundary for your marriage looks like
    • Practical ways to build trust between you and your spouse
    • 4 ways to connect well with your spouse & strengthen your relationship well
    • How to create boundaries with the parents and the in-laws
    • The 4 main thefts of intimacy and how to protect your marriage from them
    • AND MORE!


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    There is Hope for Your Marriage

    Margery D. Rosen, author of Seven Secrets of a Happy Marriage, a book based on her Ladies’ Home Journal column, Can this Marriage be Saved? interviewed hundreds of couples whose marriages were in distress and appeared hopeless.

    “The book is a compilation of columns over the years as well as information from social scientists to help couples have hope,” Rosen says. “All of the stories are true. I actually interviewed husbands, wives and their therapists. Interestingly, the main topics for couples in the 1950s and 60s are the same struggles couples deal with today. While the specifics of the story change from month to month, the circumstances that can shake the foundation of a marriage remain the same.”

    Rosen found something very interesting when she asked why some marriages burn out and others burn on.

    “The phrase ‘intentional commitment’ comes up often, the conscious desire and choice to make a marriage last,” Rosen says. “While commitment and acceptance don’t get a lot of press and they’re not the stuff of sound bites on the network news, it is clear that marriages are stronger when couples focus on what they like and appreciate about each other rather than what irks them. Happy couples argue, get depressed, lose jobs, battle over disciplining the kids. But their sense of we-ness over me-ness allows them to encourage each other during the good times and empathize during the bad.”

    When Rosen completed her research, she found that the issues couples struggle with boil down to these seven topics: trust, communication, fighting fair, power struggles, money, sex and balancing parenthood. Rosen believes these topics hold the secrets to a lasting marriage.

    Below is a taste of the wisdom from couples who made their marriage work under very difficult circumstances.

    • Trust. Trust is the cornerstone of a healthy, deeply satisfying marriage. In a trusting relationship, partners are honest with each other. Deceit does not shadow their words and actions. They don’t sacrifice a partner’s needs for their own or pursue their own goals at their mate's expense.

    • Communicate. Over and over again, communication problems rank as the number one cause of marital strife. “We’re just not communicating,” is a common lament. In many cases, couples think they are communicating, but the messages do not get through. In this area more than any other, couples can learn and practice specific techniques and strategies for sharing ideas and feelings. This can initiate dramatic changes in the way they relate.

    • Fight fair. People who live together are likely to disagree. Numerous columns showed that it is possible to direct anger constructively to improve a marriage rather than destroy it. A key step is for each person to recognize their part in provoking and sustaining the anger.

    • Defuse power struggles. Power struggles permeate every relationship. Being able to recognize marital power struggles is a key step in defusing them. Equally important, however, is understanding why a partner is so desperate for total control. Ultimately, the only lasting way to defuse a power struggle is to learn to accept each other fully, without competing, criticizing or blaming.

    • Be money-smart. Surveys identify money matters as the top trigger for everything from the occasional marital skirmish to all-out war. Money symbolizes power and control, love and security, as well as self-esteem and accomplishment. Couples who navigate best through financial issues consciously chip away the emotional veneer surrounding them and honestly discuss finances. They express what they need, what they want, how they can best attain these goals, and how to live with the anxious uncertainty that they just may not.

    • Make love. A couple’s sex life is in one sense a barometer of their marriage. The stress work and family obligations can physically and emotionally exhaust husbands and wives so much. As a result, they forget the importance of expressing love and tenderness outside and inside the bedroom. Couples with vibrant sex lives understand that the passionate, romantic love they felt at first becomes a more enduring, but equally satisfying love.

    • Team up. Most couples are unprepared for the transitional changes of parenthood. The arrival of children and their unignorable demands often propels couples into therapy. Seven Secrets of a Happy Marriage finds that a couple’s relationship is their child’s blueprint for intimacy. By watching their parents, kids learn about themselves and relationships.

    “It takes courage to face marital problems head on,” Rosen says. “Can this Marriage Be Saved? proves that both partners can transform their actions and reactions. That openness and ability to change brings them a giant step closer to where they both want to be.”


    Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV on this topic!


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    6 Tips for a 'Til Death Do Us Part' Marriage

    Have you ever thought or said these words?

    I just can’t take it anymore... We’ve grown apart... I love you as a friend, but I’m not in love with you anymore... You aren’t the person I married... Things change.

    The crazy thing is, many happily married people also experience some of these feelings. It's true. Sometimes you feel like you can’t take it anymore. Other times you may feel distant to your spouse. Over time, mates do change.

    But do all these things have to shake the very foundation of your marriage? The answer is NO.

    What makes it possible for first-time marriages to survive?

    Marriage experts have found that couples who make their marriage work decide up front that divorce is not an option. Although many couples who choose to divorce have challenges, their marriage probably could have been saved and in the long run been a happy one. Their fatal error in the relationship was leaving their options open. If the going got too tough, in their mind, divorce was always a way out.

    You might be surprised to find this out, but research shows that divorce does not make you happier.

    Does Divorce Make People Happy? Findings from a Study of Unhappy Marriages, conducted by the Institute for American Values, found that:

    • Unhappily married adults who divorced or separated were no happier, on average, than unhappily married adults who stayed married.

    • Unhappy marriages were less common than unhappy spouses.

    • Staying married did not typically trap unhappy spouses in violent relationships.

    • 2 out of 3 unhappily married adults who avoided divorce or separation ended up happily married five years later.

    The bottom line is, you have to make a decision to stay at the table and be committed to making the marriage work. Here are some things to help you keep the vow: "until death do us part.”

    • Learn skills to help keep your marriage on track. Research continues to show that couples who learn how to talk to each other, resolve conflict, manage their money, have appropriate expectations of the marriage, and build intimacy are significantly more likely to keep their marriage on track over time.

    • Understand that the grass may look greener on the other side, but you still have to mow it. On the surface someone may look better than the one you are with, but in truth, even beautiful sod eventually has onions, crabgrass and clover if you don't properly care for it. In most cases, people who have jumped the fence will testify that the grass is not greener, just different.

    • Learn how to resolve conflict without threatening to leave the marriage. All couples have spats. Some yell; others talk things through. The common denominator for couples who keep their marriage on track is learning how to disagree with the best of them, but leaving the marriage is never an option.

    • Stop using divorce as a crutch. Instead of throwing in the towel when the going gets tough, consider it a challenge to learn as much as you can about your mate and how you can effectively deal with adversity. Intentionally choose to love the one you're with.

    • Keep the big picture perspective. Sometimes it's hard to see the forest for the trees. One woman described her 65-year marriage to a group of young people. She shared about seven years throughout the 65-year span that were really bad due to work conditions, children, lack of time together, the husband's out of town job for a couple of years, etc. In the end, she asked herself, “Would I really want to trade 58 good years for seven bad years?” The answer was a resounding "No!" All marriages experience trials and tough moments. Don’t trade years of history for a couple of bad months or tough years.

    • Make a plan for your marriage. Going into marriage without a plan is like playing a football game without memorizing the playbook. If you want to win, you'll have team meetings, set goals, learn and relearn skills, learn how to lead and follow, and share responsibilities. And, you both need a copy of the playbook.

    If you want a “til death do us part” marriage, you must learn the plays so you can execute them correctly and prepare to adapt in different situations. That takes time. When you understanding that there will be occasional setbacks, you can move toward the goal line and even score a few touchdowns. Teammates block for each other, throw the ball to one another, help each other up, and encourage perseverance when the going gets tough.

    It has been said that individuals win games, but teamwork wins championships. So, make it your goal to have a championship marriage.


    Need some guidance in creating good, strong boundaries for your marriage? 

    Check out this hefty DIGITAL E-BOOK by Marriage Researchers & Therapists


    Inside, you'll find:

    • How to talk to your spouse about opposite-sex friends
    • What a good boundary for your marriage looks like
    • Practical ways to build trust between you and your spouse
    • 4 ways to connect well with your spouse & strengthen your relationship well
    • How to create boundaries with the parents and the in-laws
    • The 4 main thefts of intimacy and how to protect your marriage from them
    • AND MORE!


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    Keys to Avoiding Empty Nest Divorce

    Why do some couples embrace the empty nest while others end up in divorce court?

    “There are lots of sides to the empty nest that are complicated,” says psychologist, Dr. Susan Hickman. “Many experience depression, feelings of sadness, anxiety, identity crisis and significant grief. I remember when our daughter loaded up the van and headed to Oregon. I sat on the curb and sobbed - I was inconsolable for several days.”

    There are various responses to the empty nest varies from couple to couple. Women and couples with an only child, however, seem to experience the loss more intensely.

    “A huge part of dealing with the transition to the empty nest comes down to how strongly a person identifies with their parenting role to the exclusion of their own self-identity,” Hickman shares. “When things come to an abrupt end, if all you have done for 18 years is focus on your child’s needs, many parents struggle to remember the kinds of things they enjoyed before children came into the picture.”

    Additionally, it's normal for each person to experience the empty nest with differing emotions within the couple relationship. One person may openly grieve the loss. Others may throw themselves more into work or a project as a distraction. This has created significant conflict in many marriages.

    So what is the key to transitioning to the empty nest with your marriage strong and ready for the next phase of life?

    “First and foremost, avoid focusing on your children’s needs to the exclusion of your own needs and the needs of your marriage,” Hickman says. “Having children does not mean you give up your friends and the best interests of your marriage. When parents put children at the center of their world, they send the message that their children's needs trump everybody else’s needs in this community.”

    When your children are older, you may want to prepare for launching a new career when they launch. There's nothing wrong with taking a class or two, which in turn requires the kids to step up and help with chores and dinner preparation.

    Remember, you are modeling how to do marriage well. If it is always about the children and never about the relationship, what message are you sending your children?

    Anything you don’t cultivate will die. Children demand a lot, but you don’t want to ignore your marriage relationship. It is the foundation for a stable home which research shows children need to thrive. Many parents complain they can’t go anywhere because their children just keep calling them and driving them crazy. Hickman contends that parents train their children how to treat them. Setting clear boundaries and expectations is essential.

    “Preparing for the empty nest starts when your child is born,” Hickman asserts. “Your well-being and the well-being of your marriage are as important as the well-being of your child. Recognizing from the moment you find out you are pregnant that you have 18 years with this child, but you have the rest of your life with your spouse can help you cast a vision for keeping your marriage a priority.”


    Looking for more? Check out this episode of JulieB TV on this topic!


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    Considering Divorce

    If you're married, it's likely that the thought of divorce has crossed your mind at some point. The question is, what did you do with that thought? That’s exactly what researchers with the National Divorce Decision-Making Project wanted to know.

    While research exists about what leads to marital breakdown, we know very little about what actually causes people to consider divorce. The project surveyed 3,000 married people in order to better understand thought processes concerning divorce.

    Researchers wanted to know things such as:

    • How long have they had these thoughts?

    • Who do they talk to about their thoughts and feelings?

    • What marital problems are they facing?

    • What do they do to address their problems and how helpful are these efforts?

    • How do they make the decision about divorce and whether or not to stay together?

    The findings, listed below, might surprise you.

    • Thoughts about divorce are common. More than half of married individuals (ages 25-50) report thoughts about divorce, either in the past or currently. Those thoughts occur well into the second decade of marriage.

    • Many in the study thought about divorce in the past, but decided to stay. Almost all of them are glad they did. They are not only surviving, but thriving. Thoughts about divorce don’t have to be a sign that separation is imminent.

    • Recent thoughts about divorce are common. One in four spouses surveyed had thoughts about divorce in the last six months. While more than half have ever had thoughts- that’s exactly what they are, thoughts – they are not necessarily a prelude to marital dissolution. They may even be a spur toward relationship repair strategies.

    • More-recent thinkers of divorce want to stay, not leave. They want to fix their problems, and they are not cavalier about divorce.

    • People appear to rely on tools like patience, changed attitudes and commitment to resolve or simply outlast their marital problems. Fixing problems through counseling, while helpful for some, doesn’t seem to be the primary path for repairing relationships.

    Based on their findings, the researchers developed practical recommendations for anyone who might be thinking about divorce. There are also tips for their friends and family.

    • If you’re married: Those thoughts don’t necessarily mean you are heading for divorce court. Many people experience serious marital difficulties, but with patience and commitment, you can work through or outlast your problems and have a thriving marriage.

    • If you’re a friend or family member: Realize that just because someone says they are thinking about divorce does not necessarily mean they will pursue one. Listen, give emotional support and offer an outside perspective. Those are the top three most helpful responses a confidant can give to someone who is distressed about their marriage.

    • A word of caution: Abuse, affairs and addiction are serious. Encouraging individuals to seek help from a qualified professional who can assess the severity of the problem is a good thing.

    Based on this study, we know that people may entertain occasional thoughts about divorce when the going gets tough. But, those thoughts don’t necessarily mean they are really ready to call it quits. Perhaps in many instances the old adage, “This too shall pass” is a good thing to remember.

    Survey responses also indicate that couples who hunker down, commit to working on problems and seek help when needed eventually reach a much more satisfying place in their marriage. And, they're actually thankful they did not throw in the towel.

    Tired of the so-so communication in your marriage? 

    Check out this hefty DIGITAL E-BOOK by Marriage Researchers & Therapists

    Inside, you'll find:

    • How and why you and your spouse communicate differently, and what to do about it
    • 5 proven listening techniques that will pump up the intimacy in your relationship
    • 4 ways to start and end difficult conversations well
    • 5 ways you may be hindering communication with your spouse without realizing it
    • AND MORE!

    PLUS! Every section has an easy, no-stress discussion guide created for you and your partner to build the communication you want in your marriage.


     



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    Adult Children of Divorce Speak Out

    In The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: 25 Years of Research, Dr. Judith Wallerstein contends that the major impact of divorce does not occur during childhood or adolescence. Instead, the effects of divorce on children are cumulative. They crescendo in adulthood with the emergence of potentially serious romantic relationships, like when it is time to choose a life mate.

    Seventeen years after Wallerstein released her book, Lelia Miller posed a question on social media. She was intrigued by a friend whose parents’ divorce still affected her, even though she is married and has children. So, she asked her Facebook community if anyone would be willing to share about growing up in the shadow of their parents’ divorce.

    “Over the course of a few days, more than 100 people said they were willing,” says Miller. “I asked questions such as: What effect has your parents’ divorce had on you, and what is the difference in how you felt about the divorce as a child and how you feel about it as an adult? What do you want to say to people who say children are resilient? What do you want adults in our culture to know about how divorce affects children, and what would you want to say to children?

    “Seventy people out of the 100 answered the questions,” Miller says. “Most of them wanted to remain anonymous. The youngest was 22 and the oldest was in her 60s. I was shocked at my ignorance about the complex effects of divorce on children. I never knew that world existed. Their simple yet poignant responses are difficult to read, but not hopeless.”

    While Miller does not claim to be a scholar or a researcher, many of the stories in her book, Primal Loss: The Now Adult Children of Divorce Speak, are very similar to what Wallerstein’s research found. Divorce is a life-transforming experience. After divorce, childhood is different. Adolescence is different. Adulthood - with the decision to marry or not and have children or not - is different.

    Miller only identifies the storytellers by number. When reading the book, many contributors read someone else's story thinking it was their own.

    “They were shocked to find out that many others had similar issues and circumstances,” Miller says. “One participant in her 50s shared that her parents divorced when she was 9. She said, ‘I still don’t know who I am supposed to be. I am one way with my mom and her side of the family and another way with my father and his side of the family. How do you maintain that?’

    “Another shared about being ‘that girl on the soccer field.’ She always had to think about who she would hug first when she came off the field for fear of making someone angry or upset. She recalled a time when she had to get an X-ray after a game. Only one person could go with her. She almost had a panic attack trying to decide who to ask. Her stepmother was offended when she asked her mother to go.”

    After reading the book, one lady asked her 35-year-old male friend how he felt about his parents’ divorce. Stunned, he said nobody had ever asked him how he felt about it.

    “That was a common theme for most of the respondents,” Miller asserts. “Many were told ‘it was for the best.’ In fact, one woman recalled jumping up and down in the front yard saying, ‘We’re getting a divorce!’ honestly believing it was something good. I was actually shocked at the number of adults who were scared their parents would learn they had participated in the book. Many of the 70 are still in turmoil even after being in a really good marriage for 20 years.”

    Miller does not imply that someone should remain in an abusive situation, nor is she saying that if your parents divorced you’re automatically going to have issues. She knows that many who found themselves divorced did not want it and were doing their best to cope. That doesn’t negate the impact on the children, however.

    “So many adults desperately want to believe their child will come through a divorce unscathed,” Miller shares. “Nobody who answered my questions was unscathed. They felt like they had to go along with the narrative or be silent. That was the unnerving part.”

    Miller’s work is not a scholarly research piece, but it is an honest representation of personal stories from adult children of divorce. Readers will definitely get a sense of divorce’s impact on kids. These men and women have much to say about their experience after years of reflecting on a question no one ever thought to ask them - until now.

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    On the Verge of Divorce?

    You started out with such great intentions, but today your marriage is floundering. The emotional pain runs deep, and both of you struggle with a sense of bewilderment. How can your relationship be in such turmoil when it started out so strong?

    "I encounter many couples who find themselves in this exact place," says Pam Johnson, a licensed clinical social worker. "They think that sex, children, money or who took the garbage out last are the issues creating obstacles in their relationship. In reality, 80 to 95 percent of what couples argue about has its origins in the first 12 years of life."

    Research shows that people learn many things about marriage during their early years of life, and they carry these perceptions into adulthood. Johnson says that every child is born with three questions: Am I lovable? Am I worthy? Do I belong?

    "We arrive into adulthood with these questions answered," Johnson asserts. "Many people have no idea how much these questions, and what they learned about marriage early on, impact their relationship right now."

    Johnson is quick to say that couples who find themselves in what appears to be a hopeless marriage need to slow down and work to gain insight and learn skills through counseling or classes.

    "Abuse, addiction, and/or chronic infidelity could make a marriage unviable," Johnson says. "Short of those dire conditions, there is hope."

    Having unmet needs is one of the most common struggles for couples. For example, a husband has played golf five Saturdays in a row while his wife is caring for their children. He walks in the door and she says, "I can't believe you played golf again today. All you do is play. Some of us have to take care of the children."

    What if, instead of getting defensive, the husband could hear past the blast to the need behind it?

    "His wife needs time for herself," Johnson says. "If the husband can hear the need and help address the need, it becomes a win. It doesn't mean 'no golf,' it means figuring out together a way for his wife to have time away, and for him to get in a round of golf.

    "One of the greatest keys to moving your marriage from hopeless to hopeful is learning how to communicate. This does not mean talking more effectively. It means listening to hear the need being expressed so you can work on meeting the need. When one spouse attacks and the other gets defensive, both alienate the very person who can help change the situation."

    According to Johnson, it's easy for both husbands and wives to get stuck in "attack and blame" mode. Moving to a healthier place in your marriage has everything to do with your attitude when approaching the issue. When you both feel you're on the same team, that a sense of fairness exists and you want the best for each other and your marriage, it is very empowering. People don't walk away from a marriage that's meeting their needs.

    If your marriage is in crisis, there are resources to help you get your marriage back on track. Don't throw in the towel on a perfectly good marriage. Ask for help.

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    Holding Out Hope for Marriage

    Believe it or not, many couples are just trying to make it through the holidays before filing for divorce. Nothing they have tried is working, so they assume divorce is the answer.

    Most people believe it takes two dedicated partners to salvage a troubled marriage. Michele Weiner-Davis, internationally-known relationship expert and author of the best-selling book Divorce Busting, disagrees. If just one partner is willing to change, she believes there is hope for the marriage.

    “Many marriages currently headed down the road to divorce can be saved,” says Weiner-Davis. “Even marriages where only one person is really invested in saving the marriage and the other person is out the door, having an affair or emotionally gone, there is hope.

    “Research shows that the primary complaints leading to divorce are not physical abuse or addiction, but rather, lack of communication, lack of affection, and nagging. I’ve grown increasingly convinced that most marriages are worth saving simply because most problems are solvable.”

    Weiner-Davis explains that many individuals want their spouse to change but don’t realize that changing their own actions can transform the relationship.

    “Based on what I have experienced with couples on the verge of divorce, if just one person in the relationship will work on recognizing and changing their behavior, the dynamics surrounding the relationship change and there is a good chance the relationship can work,” she says.

    She advises:

    • Describe your goal without focusing on what your spouse is doing wrong. When problem-solving efforts fail, stop and reassess the situation. Instead of recognizing that a particular problem-solving method isn’t working, spouses often assume they were unclear and intensify the same strategy. In a heated situation, ask yourself, “What is the goal here?” Then ask, “Will what I am about to do bring me closer to the goal?” If not, change your strategy. For example, instead of talking, try writing it down.
    • Identify what works and focus on that. While you may not agree with or be exactly like your spouse, you should understand your spouse’s needs. Give what he/she needs whether you like it or not.
    • Celebrate small changes in behavior and attitude.
    • Don’t be afraid to seek help. Sometimes it is difficult to see the forest for the trees. Choose a marriage-friendly counselor.
    • Forgive and try to laugh. Harboring anger leads to bitterness and resentment. Forgiveness and laughter can encourage healing in individuals and couples.

    "If things are truly on the brink, one of the most common things people who want to save their marriages do is to beg, plead, cry, argue, threaten - all of which is doomed to fail,” Weiner-Davis says. “The first thing you have to do to increase the odds that your marriage will last beyond New Year's is to STOP CHASING. Stop debating. Stop begging. Take a deep breath and focus on ways to calm yourself. The more you chase, the more your spouse will withdraw."

    Marriage is not always easy, but don’t lose hope. Many despondent marriages have survived because of one partner’s commitment. It may take a long time, but studies show that the benefits are worth the wait – even if one partner has to work a little harder to save the relationship.