Marriage, Divorce, And Kids

By: Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC

Are men to blame for the divorce problem in this country?

It's been said that one of the reasons for the high rate of divorce in this country is the way men choose their wives. Specifically, they choose their wives in a fashion similar to how they choose their next car.

They get the best-looking one available, and hope there's not much maintenance down the road.

While this may occasionally be true, there are also certain practices that married couples must follow in order to avoid adding to a divorce rate that hovers around 50%. These practices are important for the success of your marriage, and they're also essential for the well-being of your children.

In Maggie Gallagher's book, "The Abolition of Marriage," she states that, "Half of all children will witness the breakup of a parent's marriage. Of these, close to half will also see the breakup of a parent's second marriage."

Can we possibly continue with a system in which half of our children witness the breakup of their parent's marriage? Is a divorce rate near 50% enough to have us consider new ideas about how we decide about marriage and divorce?

One new idea we might put into place is to educate people about the qualities of a successful marriage. We can't be effective when we educate them a month before they marry. Emotional intelligence skills and relationship skills must be taught to our young people early in life.

When we do teach them about successful relationships, we should include these qualities:

  1. Commitment

    According to one definition, "commitment is a freely chosen inner resolve to follow through with a course even though difficulty arises. How do we show our children what to do when difficulty arises? Do we move to where the grass is greener? Commitment is a daily discipline. It's the chat after dinner, and the kiss before work. It's the core from which we respond to difficulty. It's what makes our lives richer and deeper.

  2. Emotional Awareness

    If we know what's really bothering us, we can have effective and meaningful conversations with our spouse. We can be genuine, honest, and open with each other. And we can discover that much of the pain we feel in our relationship is actually our past emotional history coming back to haunt us.

    If you're planning on getting married someday, you need to be aware of what your emotional issues are. If you don't know them, you're a great candidate to add to a divorce rate that's already staggering.

  3. Be Kind, Not Right

    We tend to have a tremendous stake in showing our loved ones that we're right. An enormous amount of time is wasted in our relationships by arguing over who's right or wrong. This excessive arguing is just an indication of our low self-esteem. A much easier and more effective way to be in a relationship is to commit to kindness. When you're kind, you don't need to be right. And it's so much easier for others to be with you!

There certainly are divorces that are respectful of children, and many may be "justifiable." But the number of divorces that damage children's lives is mind-blowing. And the trail behind them is strewn with actions and decisions that reek of childish self-interest.

It's time for couples to grow up. It's time to stop looking to "get your needs met" in your relationship, and to start looking to meet the needs of your family. It's time to stop running away when things get difficult, and to start persevering through the pain.

And most importantly, it's time to see what running away does to the lives of children.

Because the cost of not doing these things is beyond measure.

Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC, coaches people in relationships by phone, and gives free sample sessions! He's the author of "Fix Your Wife in 30 Days or Less," (and Improve Yourself at the Same Time). Get his free ezine at

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