Overcoming rocky road of marriage
There are two common questions I am often asked. How did I meet my wife? Am I happily married? I think these are obvious questions since I manage a matchmaking company. However, even for someone like me who has been working in the field of arranged marriages and relationships for a long time, I still find these two questions complicated to answer. This year marks my 15th wedding anniversary, but just like any other marriage my wife and I have had our share of conflicts and hardships. While reflecting on my marriage, I realized that there were a few critical stages.
First, we had financial problems. Since my business was not doing so well, the concern and uncertainty about financial security caused stress and tension between my wife and me. Once business became stable and that was no longer an issue, our personality differences became a source of conflict. My wife's outgoing personality and her desire to socialize conflicted with my desire for her to be a more traditional stay-at-home mom. We argued often.
After we survived this stage of quarrels, the next focus of our marriage became our children. My wife was mainly concerned with our children, and I grew unhappy with my wife's lack of attentiveness towards me. In consequence, my wife's impatience grew as she thought I should be more understanding.
There were two crucial factors that allowed us to stay together for 15 years. First, my wife is easy-going and generally doesn't fixate on minor problems or blow them out of proportion.
Secondly, she allows me to have my own space and time outside of our relationship.
I have witnessed so many couples that meet, marry and divorce and I have come to realize that even if I were to leave my wife I wouldn't be able to meet anyone better. I knew that I would end up facing similar situations in a relationship with any woman.
It is inevitable for two people that live together to fight and bicker. Even a couple that appears to have a harmonious relationship will have conflicts in private. However, this is actually a healthy and natural part of any relationship, and as a result of conflict occurring two people can develop a greater understanding of each other and can strengthen the bond between them.
Our company conducted a study of 2,808 subjects that had gotten divorced within the past ten years and surveyed them about when and why they decided to separate from their spouses. The average length of marriages was five years and ten months. Approximately ten issues were reported to have caused divorce such as in-law problems, financial issues, personality conflicts, and infidelity.
The data from this research proves that couples usually face most of their marital problems, which they will struggle with over the course of their married life, during their first five to six years of marriage. This period can be called the ``divorce incubational period'' because during this time issues will arise and if not resolved could be the foreshadowers of a split. During this divorce incubational period, the amount of effort that each spouse puts into understanding the other person and addressing and working through problems determines whether the marriage will last or fall apart.
During this period there are various causes of problems. At the beginning of the marriage, due to unfamiliarity with each other, there may be a lot of conflicts regarding adjusting to personality and habits. Once this stage has passed and time has passed other troubles will arise such as managing money, raising children, spouse's family and gender roles.
Ironically, we can learn more about successful marriages from those that have failed. We can learn that not only the couple but also the in-laws must have lots of communication before and after getting married and allow time to adjust to each other to create a strong foundation for the marriage. Also, to sustain a marriage both the husband and wife need to constantly put effort into it.
In situations involving divorce, the natural tendency is for someone to blame their spouse rather than themselves for causing the problems. However, marriage (and any relationship) is an interaction between two people, so it is unfair to attribute the fault to only one person. Moreover, in any marriage conflict will inevitably arise at some point; the important thing is how you approach it. If you address marital issues directly with your spouse and discuss them with respect and understanding, it is likely that you can avoid larger conflicts from developing or even destroying your marriage.
It is important to remember that all relationships go through challenging stages at some point in time. If you experience a problem in your marriage, take the opportunity to learn something from it and to focus on trying to resolve it with your partner rather than being in denial or giving up on your marriage.