Dear Barb—Destined to Divorce?

Dear Barb:

Hi, I am in my late twenties, and I have been living with my boyfriend for four years.  On Christmas Eve he proposed to me and presented me with a magnificent diamond.  Of course I accepted, since I have been waiting a long time for this.  We get along great, and I don’t foresee any problems, however, everyone in my family is divorced.  My parents divorced when I was in my teens, and I have four siblings and they are all divorced.  I know the divorce rate is high, but seriously, everyone in my family! I have fears this will happen to me, especially as the wedding day is getting closer.  I want my marriage to work, and I am looking for things I can do to give my marriage the best shot at success.  Do you have any tips that I can apply that will help me to have a happy healthy relationship and a successful marriage? Thanks so much, Allison. 

Hey Allison:

Thanks for your email.  Marriage is challenging these days and it’s tough to maintain a lifelong union, but all relationships have value no matter how long they last.  Some are meant to last a lifetime and some are only meant to last a few years.  There are many things you can do to give your relationship or marriage the greatest chance of survival.  The best matches are individuals who share similar values, education, hobbies, and personalities.   Also, there are several things you can do to assure your marriage will last.  Show your partner that you love them every day.  For example, small things like a kiss, hug or making that special dessert will go a long way in keeping your relationship vital and alive.

It is important that you maintain relationships outside of the marriage, as you cannot expect one person to meet all your needs.  Never take each other for granted, although it is very easy to slip into this habit.  If a person’s needs are not met in a relationship, they will look elsewhere.  How you feel about each other is important but expressing that love to your partner is just as important.  Your sexual relationship is also a vital part of a successful marriage, but not simply the orgasm – the emotional connection is equally important.  Plus, a healthy sexual relationship has proven to improve overall health.  Practicing sex or intimacy regularly will keep you and your partner connected in a special way.  Also do not put all the stress on the physical act of sex.  Include sharing a shower or bath or reading an erotic story together.  These acts may or may not lead to orgasm.  Taking the pressure off performance will reduce anxiety and lead to a more satisfying overall experience.  Researchers have found that the way a couple handles conflict is a good predictor of whether they will stay together or divorce.  Contempt, criticism, withdrawal, and defensiveness are all behaviours to avoid in a relationship or marriage.  Finally, it is important that you not only focus on making your spouse happy, but you also need to create a happy life for yourself.  Sacrificing your own happiness for your partner’s happiness will only create resentment and hostility.  Allison, you are entering this marriage with a strong desire to make it work, therefore you are starting on the right path, and I believe your marriage has a good chance of success.  Best of luck and congrats on your nuptials.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.
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