Aug 182015 10 Responses

Two Times Never to Divorce

A healthy marriage is not a roller coaster. It’s not chaotic. There are not hurried twists and turns. A healthy marriage is calm, predictable, and consistent.

But even a healthy marriage has ups and downs. Seasons change. The feeling of love which is easily aroused one day is more dormant the next day. Weeks of peacefulness can suddenly be interrupted by discontent. The feeling that “no one knows me better” can be replaced by “I’m not sure who you are.”

At many of the weddings I officiate, I say, “there will be good years and bad years. And notice I said years. Not moments or days or weeks or months. Years.” (See: Five Moments a Pastor Looks for at a Wedding)

And it’s true. Some years are better than others. No matter how good marriage is, there will be bad times.

While every marriage is different, there are some predictable times which are difficult for nearly every couple. Knowing these seasons can empower a healthy couple to push through the tough times. Being ignorant of these seasons can cause an unhealthy couple to assume they should end their relationship because of the unhappiness.

In nearly every study, the average happiness for a couple faces two major dips. Most couples begin marriage deeply satisfied with life and one another. But as they begin having children, their marital satisfaction dips–sometimes dramatically.

It makes sense. The child-bearing years are difficult. Getting pregnant is not as easy as many people think. Infertility and miscarriage are sometimes the first true experiences of grief for a young couple. Even when a child is conceived and delivered, the lack of sleep, change in sexual activity, and struggles of parenting are difficult on any relationship.

Many couples divorce during this time failing to realize if they could press through this difficult season, their relationship would likely improve.

Improvement does most often come as children are in elementary school. A rhythm is discovered as husband and wife adjust to their roles as parents and to one another. These can be fun years.

Yet even as they feel a sense of improvement, a more difficult time is on the horizon.

For most couples, raising teenagers is the greatest strain on their relationship. A combination of factors are at play. Gone are the days of the euphoria of young love. Years of apathy can cause the relationship to feel stale. At this stage, many individuals begin to experience their first signs of aging. And of course parenting a teenager is not for the faint of heart. They can test you in ways no other human being is capable. (See: Expect More, Get More from Teenagers)

The good news–for most couples as they adjust to an empty nest, their satisfaction in life and marriage begins to turn upward and generally does not stop until the very end of life.

The bad news–many couples never experience the most fun seasons of life because they end the relationship before they reach those seasons.

Confusing a tough season for a broken relationship, they have an affair or resign themselves in apathy or divorce. While they may find a level of satisfaction in another relationship, they rob themselves of the greatest potential for happiness which can be found in the love from their youth.

These two seasons bring a great potential for divorce, but the temptation should be avoided. A couple should not divorce during, or just after, the child-bearing years or teenage years. Instead they should push through these times to give the relationship a chance at a better season.

To “push through” doesn’t mean difficult times should be ignored. When stress is high, it is a good idea to get help from a counselor or wise couple who can give good advice. Just assuming things will get better is a dangerous assumption. (See: How to Stay In Love ‘Til Death)

Yet it is fair to assume that if two people work to make today better, tomorrow will be better. Seasons will change, skills will be learned, and the marital satisfaction of a couple will grow.

Every year I dread back-to-school. In the coming weeks word will begin to spread of various couples who feel the freedom to make public what has long been private. Deals were made that if they could just get their children through graduation and to college, they could go their separate ways. It grieves me greatly.

Sadly these couples are divorcing at the very moment in which their marriages have the potential to start a great upswing. With a little time and a lot of work, their marriages could thrive.

Marriage is not a roller coaster, but every marriage has some lows. For most, those lows are predictable. Understand the pattern, do the work, and endure through the tough times.

10 Responses to Two Times Never to Divorce
  1. Kami Reply

    Thanks–I always like your posts. I guess it’s kind of unfortunate for us that just as our 4th child is getting out of baby-hood and turning 2, our oldest is turning 13 and entering teenage years. Did we miss the “happy” time? Sure feels that way…although I don’t think the kids are the main problem. He doesn’t think “pushing through” sounds like a fun way to live.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      It’s not a fun way to live for long, but if done right and the marriage improves it is far more fun than divorce or a poor marriage. Sounds like you know that, but he doesn’t. I’m sorry for that. I wish I had the ability to convince men to work harder on their marriages.

  2. Barbara Mamal Reply

    I could not agree with this more. Baby Girl is 6, and she cried non-stop for the first two years of her life, and still hates sleeping. No-one could’ve prepared me for those difficult years. Even if people warned me, I don’t think I could’ve understood. The impact of sleep deprivation is enormous. And it saddens me when I hear of so many people getting divorced during this time. Its not easy! In fact, its really not a good time period to be in. But it is so important to see it through, because the alternatives are so much worse. Your post above has given me a renewed sense to keep working on our marriage, not just for the teenage years, also for us – but to prepare ourselves for those years. So that we can remain united as a team. I am so grateful God has given me a man who wants our marriage to work. #trulyblessed

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  4. Bonnie Reply

    Good read! What if your marriage of 7 years is full of constant ups and downs, lies nd betrayal? When is enough enough?

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Lies are not acceptable. I would seek immediate help and he would have to decide which he wants–truth and marriage or lies and divorce.

  5. […] 2. Don’t give up. Too often, couples divorce during very predictable times. They don’t r...
  6. Edith Reply

    So true and great post, I can totally relate, but this baby years were my best and that’s when I most had respect for my husband. But sadly he’s had 2 affairs and I’m still here. He really hurt our girls and that respect is so gone. I wonder if I’ll ever have respect for him again :/

  7. […] The two most difficult seasons in marriage occur around the time couples have kids and then when tho...

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