Monday, June 18, 2007

Don't give up. . .

Missy Grant kindly pointed out in a comment on the last post that I missed Colette Joyce's great Viewpoint article in the Saturday's Tribune. . . | 06/16/2007 | Viewpoint: Don’t give up too early on saving your marriage

The article is outstanding! A terrific example of "salt & light" presence. Collette noticed a trend, and gently and wisely responded with a letter to the editor offering a differing viewpoint. She doesn't come off as jamming her viewpoint down everybody's throat, but she craftily points out the damage and cost of divorce.

Because I liked it so much and I want you to read it so bady, I've taken the liberty of copyng and pasting it in its entirety below. Let's look together for other ways to engage our community and culture on life issues like Colette so wisely does.

Wouldn't it be awesome if the Trib received not one, but twenty letters like this one the next time a similar trend emerges?

Viewpoint: Don’t give up too early on saving your marriage

By Colette Joyce

W hile cruising through a recent issue of The Tribune (May 29), I came across a couple of divorce articles.

I was pleased to see the “Divorce doesn’t always equate to disaster” article. Focusing on women who had to “start over” after being left by their husbands, this article gave quotes and tips from women who had made the best of their uninvited situations and had experienced positive results.

Next to this article was a large picture of a wedding ring poised to be flushed down a toilet, accompanied by the “Unhappy Ending” article.

Whereas the first article referred to situations beyond the person’s control (such as infidelity, desertion or abuse), the guidelines in “Unhappy Ending” appeared to be for those who “had decided to end their marriage.”

While these guidelines might be appropriate for a spouse in an abusive relationship, they seemed to oversimplify or encourage the divorce option for others.

Although it’s heartening to hear that situations sometimes end positively after divorce, we all know that divorce is painful at best. We have a social responsibility to exhaust all possibilities before turning to divorce. No one ever said marriage would be easy, but we took a vow. It’s sacred. Our decisions impact others as well — extended family, children and friends.

Let’s not trick ourselves into thinking it should be so easy.

Most of us are working hard at our marriages. Anyone considering divorce probably already believes they’ve exhausted all possibilities. But, subconsciously, it might appear easier to flush a marriage than to save a marriage.

So, why not consider a few additional thoughts before you throw in the marital towel:

1. Know your goals and test your motives. We all tend to seek advice we’d like to hear. And we often tune out advice that’s in our best interest — simply because we’re tired or it sounds painful.

Don’t kid yourself—be your own devil’s advocate. Rather than unintentionally screening out contrasting advice, seek it. Focus more on what you can do to improve the marriage than what you think your spouse should do. If you think you’re ready to head down the divorce path, call good ol’ Aunt Sally or a pastor and listen open-mindedly to what they have to say.

2. Choose a counselor wisely. Interview several counselors. Even counselors have a bias or point of view about marriage. Is their goal to save marriages or to seek personal fulfillment for their clients? Will you be paying someone to tell you what you want to hear or to help you heal your marriage? Remember, counseling is a business, too. A counselor may think you’re a happier customer if he leads you out of a messy marriage. But temporary solace doesn’t equate to long-term happiness.Will your counselor be there to help you down the road when the sadness of the custody arrangement or financial calamity seeps in? Select a good marriage counselor —one who concentrates on restoring your relationship rather than making sure it flushes smoothly.

3. Compare your situation now with future realities if divorced. If you’re considering divorce, you are obviously not happy with your relationship as it is. But take a moment to look ahead and imagine a few likely scenarios after divorce.

People wait an average of three years to remarry after divorce. Consider whether you’re ready to have parenting discussions about your children with the new spouse or significant other.

4. Enlist support for marital healing. Ask for the support of your friends and family as you strive to save your marriage. This is counter-intuitive because we tend to want to keep things quiet when we’re having troubles.

5. Spend at least as much time and money on your marriage as you would on a divorce. Spend some time remembering the reasons you fell in love with your partner. Pull out pictures of the fun times you had. Go on dates, even if it’s awkward at first.

Also, don’t flinch about spending some cash on your marriage — for dates, counseling, gifts, retreats, etc.

Even aside from the great emotional cost, divorces are expensive— with estimates often topping $10,000 or more.

Have you considered all other options for the problems you’re facing? Counseling? Temporary separation? Reducing stress by hiring a housekeeper? A special marriage retreat? Prayer? Think hard before flushing.

Finally, even if your marriage is in good shape, you’ve probably witnessed many friends’ wedding ceremonies and pledged to help them succeed. So, be good listeners and offer constructive advice without making unkind remarks about someone’s spouse. Offer to baby-sit so couples can go out together. Get creative. Let’s encourage and assist one another in our marriages!

Colette Joyce is a freelance writer who lives in San Luis Obispo. She and her husband, Chris, have three children. They’ve been enjoying and working on their marriage for 19 years.


Suzette said...

I missed all of those articles in the paper. I did read a very sad one about a week ago that said basically that having an opposite sex friend that made your spouse jealous was "good for your relationship". Sounded like really bad advice to me. I am glad to hear that the paper printed such a positive view point. It was a really great article.

Tim Weaver said...

AWESOME. Thank you for that article. It is great to see public writing that esteems marriage and values WORKING to keep it together.