Why Do Marriages Fall Apart In The First Five Years?

Lifespan of a Marriage

Marriage is a risky business.  Studies indicate that 20 percent of marriages end within the first five years and within 10 years it increases by 12 percent. The business of building a couple is an art that requires skills and techniques. There are rules. A successful marriage starts with getting to know all the rules, be these written, unwritten, spoken, or unspoken. 

How many couples start out like they put the ‘more’ in amore, ready to pave the way together towards a rosy future, and by the time the future arrives they are either at each other’s throats or entirely dismissive towards each other?  The most commonly reported contributors to divorce are lack of commitment, infidelity, and excessive arguing

A peaceful relationship is not free of conflict.  Be prepared for the occasional fight/argument and making up after a fight.  One method which is widely practiced, and preferred by men, is “make-up sex”. Nothing like a good fight to get the blood rushing, heated verbal congress can translate into a state of arousal, and consequently, stupefying sex. Careful though, don’t start fights with your partner just for the make-up sex, they’ll figure it out faster than you think, and you don’t want to turn sex into a bartering tool.

They (psychologists) say that men talk to get things done, whereas women talk to make emotional connections and this is where many marriages lose their footing. You’ve heard it before, ‘Men talk about things, women talk about people, relationships, and feelings.’ This limiting view on gender was widely perpetuated by the book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, by John Grey. While such black-and-white concepts about men and women are still being disputed, many couples still fall prey to these gender stereotypes.

Are you familiar with the movie, War of the Roses? The Roses may be caricatures, as a couple, but they also started out as lovebirds.  The rise and fall of their love story and the ferociousness of their fighting are not so far-fetched. If you haven’t seen the movie, I recommend you do.

You don’t fix things by trying to fix your partner, so this is where negotiating skills are useful. The purpose of negotiating is to see if you can get your interests met through an agreement.  Be Prepared. If you are not clear on what needs to be accomplished in a particular negotiation and how to get there, you can get lost in the process while getting bogged down in details and lose track of what you really want to accomplish.  An interest is why you want something, not what you want.

The most powerful negotiating skill is listening 

It is said that the most powerful negotiating skill is listening. It’s not that simple when you consider that 93% of communication is nonverbal. The tone of voice accounts for 38% and body language 55% of communication. What your body is communicating while listening to your partner may speak louder than words.

Who Calls the Shots? Imbalance of Power 

When one partner has more decision-making power it could prove to be a treacherous road ahead.

  • Who decides what you do together on the weekends and holidays? 
  • Who manages household finances? 
  • Who makes decisions on big purchases for the home? 
  • Who controls the TV remote?
  • Who’s on top?

Control Issues 

When one partner controls or manipulates the other, the relationship generally suffers the consequences. It’s quite natural to want control of your own life but not to the extent of controlling everyone around you into the bargain. 

Ineffective Communication 

This one is a definite clincher. Ineffective communication can turn into a weapon, it has the power to hurt, confuse and misinform the listener and can lead to excessive arguing.

Perpetuating cyclical arguments

If your relationship is stuck in a rut by perpetual cyclical arguments, here’s a short list of what NOT TO DO as a couple.

  • Withdraw – Give minimal responses.  Exit in the middle of a heated conversation. Be sure to send the message that you don’t care or can’t be bothered by what your partner is saying. 
  • Resentful Compliance – Be over-accommodating. Don’t say what you really think or feel. Now you’ve generated a good dose of resentment, telling yourself that your partner doesn’t understand you
  • Whine – Complain. Compete for the victim position. Be indirect about what you want.
  • Blame – Try to dominate the discussion. Refuse to take personal responsibility. Yell. Accuse. Point fingers

Excessive Jealousy

The first effect of excessive jealousy is that it causes continual fear, worry, and even paranoia in the one who is jealous.  Jealousy provokes paranoia, and paranoia provokes control and as a consequence, the object of jealousy will begin to withdraw. Jealousy, in a sense, becomes its own self-fulfilling prophecy.

Lying and Cheating 

These are blatant violations of trust and the rules dictating a relationship, so if you’re a lying and cheating type, be prepared to spend a lot of time in waiting rooms as you are headed straight for a marriage counselor or lawyer. Consider the possibility you’re not cut out or simply not ready for marriage.

In the business of building a couple, it’s not the stuff in small print on the marriage contract that comes back to bite you, it’s all the stuff that’s not written. 

Lack of Commitment

This one sounds like a total contradiction, I mean why would anyone get married if they suffer commitment phobia, relationship anxiety, or fear of commitment? Yet lack of commitment is listed as the main contributor to divorces with a 74% rating.

  • If you have a history of short-lived relationships, you might want to work on your commitment issues before considering marriage.
  • If you are terrified and not particularly keen on making future plans with your partner, don’t get married. If your partner is terrified of making future plans with you, don’t et married!
  • If you would rather avoid talking or thinking about the future of the relationship, don’t get married. If your partner would rather avoid talking or thinking about the future of the relationship, don’t get married!
  • Don’t feel bad, some people are just not cut out for the mainstream relationship model. Long-term relationships, monogamy, marriage, and kids are not a good fit for all of us.

There are many ills that can plague a marriage. When a couple can’t get their marriage back on track they can always resort to a therapist, a marriage counselor, a priest, or a lawyer, depending on what point they’re at and whether or not there is hope for reconciliation.

On the other hand, some might prefer the advice of Benjamin Franklin, who said, “Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterward”.

Published by Maddalena Di Gregorio

“I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in” Robert L. Stevenson

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