If you’re married, you may be so worried by statistics on divorce that you avoid ever thinking about the possibility — a kind of “it can’t see us if we don’t move” mentality. However, here’s some good news that can help ease that rigorous refusal to even mention the “d” word: Couples who think seriously about divorce may end up with happier marriages.
According to a study done by Brigham Young University, 1 in 4 married people have seriously contemplated divorce in the last 6 months, and that may be okay! The study found that, rather than leading you down an endless, inescapable path to divorce, contemplating it can serve as a wake-up call to issues that are hurting your marriage.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? If your doctor said to you, “you might be heading down the path to diabetes,” it doesn’t mean you have diabetes or will definitely develop it, but thinking about it might spur you to adopt healthier habits once you recognize the potential danger, right?
Encouragingly, the study, which involved interviews with more than 3000 married couples, suggests that it’s important not to confuse thoughts about divorce with plans to divorce. Most people who admitted to thinking about the divorce also reported that they wanted to stay with their partner; only 5% believed their marriage was definitely over. “…usually thoughts about divorce are just that — thoughts, not concrete actions, decisions, or even deep doubts,” researchers stressed in the findings.
By the way, if you happen to be having these thoughts right this very moment, there’s a possible reason for that, too: CNN reports that January might as well be known as Divorce Month, as rates spike from January through March. This can be due to a lot of reasons, including tax purposes, but also because people planning to divorce may want to wait out the holidays and start the new year with a fresh beginning. The new year may also just be a time where you review your life and try to choose new directions, so it’s natural to contemplate your options.
So, if you’re having thoughts of the single life, don’t fall into an anxiety panic that your marriage must be doomed. Allow yourself to get to the thought behind the thought: Is there something wrong in your marriage that needs to be addressed? And then get serious about addressing it. The best news the study provides is that couples who thought about divorce but were proactive about facing their issues and staying “…together were not just survivors, but thrivers” who reported increased happiness.
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