Why So Many Poor Marriages?

May 7, 2013

in Good Marriage, Marriage Killer, Seeing Clearly

Why are there so many poor marriages?

I’m not (just) talking about the bad marriages headed for divorce; what about all those marriages that will never end which are neither good nor happy? Why are so many people living in marriages somewhere between barely tolerable and just okay? 

© renjith krishnan | freedigitalphotos.net

I see three possible causes. At least one spouse:

  1. Does not know/believe it can be better
  2. Does not know how to make it better
  3. Is not willing to do what it takes to make it better

In a society where a marriage has a significant chance of ending in divorce, one could conclude people don’t know it can be better. While I think most people have no idea how good marriage can be, I doubt there are many who honestly think marriages cannot be any better.

The second point has some validity, but there are plenty of resources for those who want to make their marriages better. Some resources are free, some cost a bit (books) some cost a lot (seminars and some counselling). Even if someone has no idea how to make their marriage better, he or she can easily find help.

My gut feeling is the third point is the most significant of the three. I think not being willing to do what it takes is what most limits marriages. I think many men and women either are not willing, or feel they don’t have the time, energy, or money necessary to make their marriage better.

How much do you want your marriage to be better? What are you willing to do to make it happen?

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Sorry sent that too soon

if my wife came to me today and wanted to seek outside help or even a knowledge there is a problem I'm not sure after years of trying I still want to fix it. I fear oneday I will look back and just be bitter about how she could put myself and our children through all this life is too short for this and if it wasn't for my children I probably would have already be gone so I do believe we are past a point of no return and if she decided today was a good day to start caring about our marriage it would probably be too little too late

TheGenerousHusband moderator

@tryinghusband I certainly understand getting to that point. I think one could choose to care, but it would be a huge risk. 


if my wife came to me today and wanted to seek outside help or even a knowledge their is a problem I'm not sure after years of trying I still want to fix it. I'm feel oneday I will

Rosemary West / forbetterorwhat.com
Rosemary West / forbetterorwhat.com

Not being willing seems to be a big point for many people. They just want their spouse to change, without investing any effort themselves. And yet, the most effective way to get someone else to change is to change yourself first. People just don't want to do that. Perhaps they really don't believe that it will work. But mostly it seems that they let resentment and a sense of entitlement get in the way. "He's the one at fault, so why should I have to do everything?" "She's the one behaving badly, so she should be the one to change." And, of course, the other spouse is thinking the same thing, so they remain gridlocked, each one stubbornly holding out for the other one to make the first move.


I would think that all three points play out in every marriage, each point to a different level depending on the individuals in the relationship. However, the fact that marriage requires two individuals both willing to strive together to overcome these issues is what really reduces the odds of it happening often. 

If I had to pick one thing I might have to go with a general lack of knowledge of what "real" (Christ modeled) Love is, and the commitment to this type of  "Love" when they get Married.


Totally true. Part of the issue is that at least one of the spouses don't love their own self, so it is almost impossible to love another - and since they  don't know how to love their self it makes it easier to accept a bad marriage. After all, that's what my unloved self deserves right?

This is epidemic everywhere, even among pastors. http://choosetotrust.com/2013/05/when-numbers-are-not-enough/


I would actually lean towards the first. Folks have a disposable mentality. If my marriage is bad, it's my spouse, so just get rid of him and I will find a better husband. They don't believe they are the problem and don't believe in their spouse so they naturally don't think their marriage will get better.

Of course that does lead to the third because they don't value their spouse enough to invest in their marriage.

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