Although the exact percentage of marriages that fail is hard to precisely peg, there’s no question divorce is a serious problem.
The question is “why?”
Every couple walks down the aisle dreaming of love, romance, and a life of happiness together. In fact, our marriage team here at Focus reports that 93 percent of Americans say a happy marriage is one of their chief objectives in life.
And, yet, the statistics also show a significant percentage of relationships will end in divorce, and about half of those will occur within the first seven years of marriage.
How does the beauty and promise symbolized in a wedding ceremony deteriorate into a failed marriage and the ugly reality of divorce court?
Maybe it has something to do with how couples pursue marriage in the first place.
Specifically, there are two things couples do to undermine their future marriage:
1. Believe the “soul mate” lie (approach)
Some people believe the secret to a lasting marriage is finding their “soul mate.” Not only is that concept not biblical, it’s not even a healthy idea to entertain. The Hollywood-fueled notion that there’s one person out there just for you is a myth. It may make for an entertaining movie, but it typically does not work in real life.
So when a couple experiences conflict (which they, of course, will), doubt creeps into the relationship. “Maybe this isn’t my soul mate after all,” they wonder. The truth is soul mates aren’t found, they’re formed over time through hard work, selflessness, and a commitment to love our spouse through the good and the bad.
2. “Test drive” the marriage
Other couples enter into marriage from an opposite extreme. They believe the way to ensure a successful marriage is to take the relationship for a trial run by living together before making a lifelong commitment.
But without a commitment to hold the relationship together, the couple is essentially saying to one another, “I’ll hang out with you as long as you make me happy.” That’s a shaky foundation to build a life on. It infuses doubt and mistrust into the very DNA of a relationship from the get-go. In other words, couples are sabotaging their marriage before they even walk down the aisle.
And the research bears this out. Studies show divorce rates for those who live together before marriage are significantly higher than for those who don’t.
These misconceptions, and others, lead us to a central question: How can engaged couples learn how to build a marriage that lasts a lifetime?
We’ll be discussing answers to that question on our program today with our guests Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley. Greg is the vice president of Family Ministries here at Focus and, together, he and Erin do a great job in helping lead our Marriage outreach. If you’re single, or if you’re a mom or dad with an adult child headed toward the altar, you’ll want to hear this program. It’ll put tools in your hands to have a good discussion about marriage.
One of those tools is the Smalleys’ newest book, “Ready to Wed: 12 Ways to Start a Marriage You’ll Love.” Written for engaged couples, this book is full of helpful tips and wisdom to set soon-to-be newlyweds on a straight path toward a healthy marriage. If you’re engaged, or know a couple that is on the road to marriage, we hope you’ll consider purchasing this book. To download a free chapter, visit our website.