Following up on the idea that Not divorcing is not enough, not fighting is not enough either. Marriage is not supposed to be lukewarm, and when it is it tends to die. A fair number of divorces occur not because anything is horribly wrong, but because the couple has become little more than room-mates. In the church, many such couples stay together, or last longer, but they are hardly the example of Christ and His bride that God called us to be. Aside from that failure, the couple is cheating each other out of a lot of good things, and they are setting a very bad example for their children and others around them.
Dr. Paul Amato, a sociologist at Penn State University, says that more than half of divorces happen “in low-conflict marriages”; marriages, which he says, are “good enough” to be saved. Pamela Haag, author of Marriage Confidential: The Post-Romantic Age of Workhorse Wives, Royal Children, Undersexed Spouses, & Rebel Couples says that two thirds of the divorces in the United States are among “so-so” couples. She says many of these couples actually choose “semi-happy” out of a desire to have safe and stable marriages. Unfortunately, that is not enough to make a marriage strong, and a weak marriage is far more susceptible to divorce. Hagg also suggests that too much focus on children is a big part of the problem in many of these marriages.
A common way this plays out, in my experience, is like this. A couple gets married. She wants stability, and she avoids things that would create passion and deep connection to focus on safe and stable. She is not trying for boring, but it’s the result. He finds other places to be connected and to feel needed, appreciated, and important. His work and hobbies become too much of his life, with his marriage being too little. He’s not thrilled, and it’s not really his choice, but he makes the best of it. Then they have kids, and this just intensifies all of the above, especially if mom makes the kids too much of her life. Eventually the kids get old enough that the wife can no longer fill her entire day, every day, with the kids. Suddenly she is lonely and bored. She looks to her husband, but he has developed patterns, and is not really interested in change. She makes a few poor efforts to let him know what she wants, and he misses it. So, she starts to looks for other places to be connected and to feel needed, appreciated,, and important. Somewhere along the line one of them, usually the wife says, “Why am I here? This is not a marriage, and it’s not doing anything but holding me back.” At that point the couple is years beyond fixing the problem. I’m not saying it can’t be fixed at that point, but it’s way late in the game for the needed turn around, and odds are one of them is already gone in all but body.
Okay guys, here’s what you need to know: Lukewarm, so-so, semi-happy marriages don’t cut it. Even if your bride nudged, or pushed, for such a marriage, she will eventually grow tired of it. She may or may not leave the marriage, but her heart and mind will leave the marriage. If your marriage is semi-happy, you have a problem. You may not see the problem for years, but there is a problem, and by the time you do see it, it may be too late to do anything about it. Start fighting for a better marriage now, while there is still time to change things. Be ready to push even if she does not want it, and be ready to sacrifice to move forward.
The good news is that you can have a much better marriage if you are willing to work at it. If you are not too far down the lukewarm marriage path, you can turn it around. Let your bride know you want a better marriage for both of you, and for your kids. Let her know you are ready to fight and sacrifice to have a better marriage, and as lovingly as possible, don’t take no for an answer.
By the way, the Monday guest post on The Generous Wife is applicable to this topic: Happiness is a Choice