#1 Predictor Of Divorce

#1 Predictor Of Divorce

We've settled in to our new home, and I'm back up and running with posts!

Did you know that the number one predictor of divorce is habitually avoiding conflict?

When we first get married, we often are still in the passionate/infatuation love stage. Later on--whether it be months or years--we find out that we don't always see eye-to-eye with our partner. What we forget is that THIS IS NORMAL! In fact, the happiest married couples often have at least ten areas of "disagreement" or incompatibility. They are successful in their marriage, because somewhere along the way they have been able to communicate openly about touchy or disagreeable topics, and they have been able to decide to disagree. That, and they also choose to not let these disagreements leech into other aspects of their relationship. To me, this means especially not the intimate and romantic side of the relationship.

As an aside...did you know if you did get divorced, in your "newer" relationship ten more areas of incompatibility/disagreement will crop up there too. Now add children from a previous marriage in to the mix...might their upbringing be one of those ten areas of disagreement in the new marriage? In ANY RELATIONSHIP, we are going to have areas where there is incompatibility or disagreement. Success in ANY relationship then means with our partner we learn skills/ways in which we can respect the difference in opinion, and choose to love and carry on in the relationship any way. Novel idea?

One of the most cited and proven ways to confront conflict is on neutral ground. This could mean a couple of different things. For example:

(1) As an issue arises, choosing a point in the near future to discuss ____.
How you would set this up goes something like this, "Honey, on Saturday after we've both fit our workouts in, and we've eaten lunch as a family, while Junior is playing ball outside, can we sit on the back steps and talk about ____?"
Here--you identify there is a problem that needs to be discussed, and you are choosing to discuss it when you're stress levels are low (i.e. you've worked out, you're fed, and your child is occupied), and you can address the situation more rationally than emotionally.

(2) Setting a regular time to discuss personal, family, financial, job, etc. matters.
How this would be set up is by setting a set day and time to discuss potential conflicts. For example, every second Friday, or every Sunday, or the first day of the month, or the third weekend of the month, or two days before payday....etc. The point here is to have a set time and place where you both know in advance you can bring up any topics.

Both of these examples allow partners to come to the table open-handed and hopefully, open-minded. After all--the best way to keep your marriage or relationship healthy is to address issues before they become problems, fights, or major issues.

You may be wondering, okay, so I need to identify potential situations that may escalate before they happen? What?! Well, if you are listening to your self-talk, and have a feeling that your partner may disagree or become upset, then that's an indicator NOT to bring the topic up in the heat of the moment, when he/she walks in from work/errands/etc. How do I stop myself from engaging and rearing up for a heated conversation while I'm asking my partner for a "date" to discuss issue B?

(1) Listen to your inner dialogue. If you have any type of uneasy feeling about your partner's reaction, or if you know you feel strongly YOURSELF about the topic....

(a) breathe

(b) decide to choose a date/time/place in the future to discuss topic

(c) ask your partner if you two can sit down (or if walking, kicking a soccer ball, etc. helps you engage--do that too!) and discuss said topic

(d) think through the situation--identify your feelings, what you'd like the outcome to be, and how you see yourself and partner coming to a compromise or decision to respectfully disagree

(e) sit down and discuss the situation

(f) if you are unable to resolve it or come to an agreement, then choose how you will compromise or decide on another time to come back and discuss the same topic

(g) remember to HUG or HOLD HANDS while discussing! WHY? This issue is exactly that--an issue--and in no way affects the rest of your complex relationship. You've chosen to love eachother through thick and thin.

(2) If you are already ready to blow your top--your muscles are tense, you are swearing under your breath/out loud, you're snapping at other people, you want to scream (or are screaming...)--choose 1 of 2 things:

(a) Buzz word. Could be as simple as "Relax", "Chill out", "Love", "Humbleness", "Grace", "Help!", "1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi." Basically, you want to recite something in your head, better yet if no one is around say it out loud...repeatedly until you're in control of your emotions. Note--it is okay to use the same word or phrase or poem repeatedly, HOWEVER what we know of brain neuroscience is that it is better to switch it up. Read more about your second option if you're ready to burst...

(b) Do something mathematical. Wait, what did she say? Yup, do some kind of a math problem.
Huh? Right in the heat of the moment if you are ready to pop--you are NOT in the decision-making area of your brain. You are in the reptilian part. In order to get to the higher executive functions, you have to engage your frontal lobe. How? By doing some kind of math or logic problem. This takes you from the emotional area of your brain straight to your rational area.

Guess what? Those are 2 things you can do to bring yourself back to neutral ground. However, you and your spouse can also decide on a "buzz word" or yell "time out!/math time!" and challenge each other with some kind of a wacky word or math problem to get your tempers back down to neutral. Then--from there agree on a future date/time/place to discuss whatever was heating you up!

Click on the link to see what types of courses are out there that you can take to learn some of these communication skills: http://www.smartmarriages.com/divorcepredictor.html

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This article was originally published at Lifetime Two Love. Reprinted with permission from the author.