Marriage Strengthening for Family Restoration

A research professor at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research recently identified some of the top common regrets of divorced couples in a book entitled "When 'I Do' Becomes 'I Don't'."

WhenIDoBecomesIDont-cover.jpg"Divorced individuals who step back and say, 'This is what I've done wrong and this is what I will change,' have something powerful to teach others," the author recently said. Read the entire interview in the Wall Street Journal. Their top five regrets included:

1) I did not encourage my spouse enough, nor express love and affection enough.

2) I wish we had talked more about money. (Money magnifies problems and is often a common source of tension in a marriage.)

3) I wish I had left the past in the past. (A lack of forgiveness allows bitterness and resentment to fester, which will inevitably destroy any relationship.)

4) I wish I had blamed the relationship, rather than my spouse. (According to Focus on the Family (www.focusonthefamily.org) 65% of divorcees blame their ex-spouse for the demise of the marriage, suggesting that rather than placing blame, assume as much blame as you are accusing - e.g. rather than "You are so crabby lately," "We are both so crabby lately.")

5) I wish I had been more real and vulnerable in our marriage. (Couples need to have 10 minutes each day just to talk alone about something other than work, kids, problems, etc.)

If you're in the midst of a troubled marriage, there are resources out there to help. For example, Focus on the Family has a tremendous counseling department and is prepared to help at no cost to you and your spouse. (To reach Focus on the Family's counseling service by phone, call 1-800-A-Family (232-6459) weekdays 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Mountain Time). If a counselor is not immediately available, leave your contact information and a counselor will call you back as soon as possible.)

Trent1.jpgAnother recent publication that may assist couples in trouble marriages includes Dr. John Trent's book entitled "Breaking the Cycle of Divorce." This book can be found here.

My published scholarship on marriage and divorce develops some of the legal problems that can harm marriage, and some of the legal solutions that can strengthen it as well. They be found at the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) at http://ssrn.com/author=183817, offering legal alternatives to a rush to divorce when marriage gets tough.

Students at Regent Law who are currently taking the Family Law course are learning over the next few weeks how to draft an agreement that will be a tool in beginning to help address problems in a troubled marriage, and offer some solutions that can be binding upon the individuals and enforceable by local family court.

Of course, the best path toward marriage strengthening is one couple at a time building a relationship over a lifetime, on a daily basis. Hearing from divorced couples and clinicians may help, but ultimately the strength of one's marriage is an individual choice made by two people committed to the same direction in their marriage, encouraged in that direction by their family and community, and incentivized in that relationship by law.

Marriage strengthening is the solid foundation for more formal and substantive family restoration, and begins one marriage at a time, and there are even lawyers who know how to help.

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