Why So Many Poor Marriages?

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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15 Comments on “Why So Many Poor Marriages?

  1. 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.

  2. 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/

  3. I would think that all three point play out in every marriage, each point to a different level depending on those involved. However, the fact that marriage require two individual both willing to striving 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.

  4. 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.

    • RosemaryWest / romanticmarriage.org  
      I do understand the mindset of not wanting to do anymore work.  After over a year of my ex-wife’s affair, and observing no end of the affair, no change in her behavior, no support from my church, and no change in the situation, eventually you get to the point where it appears pointless to keep trying to address your side of the street when your spouse is actively taking a wrecking ball to hers.
      Sometimes, no matter how much you address your side of the equation, unless the other person begins to do her part, things will really not get better.

      • TonyB Yes, unfortunately sometimes there are hopeless situations, and that is heartbreaking. If one spouse has disconnected themselves from the marriage to the point where they just won’t engage and can’t be reached, then these probably isn’t anything you can do.  Still, I think in most cases it isn’t hopeless, at least not at first, but neither one is willing to make the effort unless the other one goes first. And so things just keep getting worse until they fall apart.

    • RosemaryWest / romanticmarriage.org  
      I do understand the mindset of not wanting to do anymore work.  After over a year of my ex-wife’s affair, and observing no end of the affair, no change in her behavior, no support from my church, and no change in the situation, eventually you get to the point where it appears pointless to keep trying to address your side of the street when your spouse is actively taking a wrecking ball to hers.
      Sometimes, no matter how much you address your side of the equation, unless the other person begins to do her part, things will really not get better.

    • RosemaryWest / romanticmarriage.orgI agree hardily! 
      The other version of this is to do a bit then wait to see a response  Of course we define what qualifies as a good response and ignore anything else that really does show our spouse trying to change.
      When one person decides to do what is right, and keeps doing that regardless, it almost always has a good effect on the marriage. Usually when this does not work, it’s because the effort started too late.

    • RosemaryWest / romanticmarriage.orgI agree hardily! 
      The other version of this is to do a bit then wait to see a response  Of course we define what qualifies as a good response and ignore anything else that really does show our spouse trying to change.
      When one person decides to do what is right, and keeps doing that regardless, it almost always has a good effect on the marriage. Usually when this does not work, it’s because the effort started too late.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

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