I recently was asked to review an upcoming pubication of a book entitled: How to Know When It’s Time To Go: A 10 Step Reality Test For Your Marriage. This book is written by a husband and wife team and discusses many of the questions that many couples ask sometime in their marriage. Especially though this book examines couples that are having challenges in their marriage that may lead to eventual divorse if something does not change.
Yes, we agree entirely that How to Know If It’s Time to Go is a very useful book for couples who are in a healthy marriage to keep their marriage on track.
Happily married people too often are afraid to rock the boat when something is troubling one of them; they make the mistake of keeping it to themselves. Every relationship has its disappointments, frustrations or disagreements. It’s a bad idea to paper over these; they tend to get bigger rather than go away. To keep a good marriage on track we encourage couples to take our Marriage Test and see how closely their scores agree or don’t, and where they each see areas where they haven’t come to a resolution they both find workable.
Too often marriages bog down in all the day to day responsibilities, without much of the fun and romance that got you two together in the first place. We think couples should read our Marriage Bill of Rights to remember what rights a marriage promises to each of you along with all those responsibilities, and to remind one another to provide the good things that those rights promise, like affection, partnership and support, and that each of you needs and deserves from the other.
Sad to say that many people, especially men, relate how shocked they were when their spouses said they wanted to separate or divorce. Many of these people tell us they thought they were in a happy marriage. No one should be shocked to find out their mate is not happy. The book can help you get into the conversations that you need to have to keep an open dialogue about the best and worst aspects of your relationship, and how to work on it.
2) What are the top 5 reasons that you have found that people stay in relationships when they should go.
- Our interviews with both married and divorced people surfaced the same fears over and over about separating and divorcing. We discuss each of these in detail in our chapter on myths about separation and divorce. Many of these myths are widely held in our society and are popularized in the media. It’s important to read the statistics that help you see that these are myths and don’t reflect the reality for the vast number of people who separate or divorce.
- Self Doubt: Am I just being unrealistic about my expectations for marriage? Maybe my marriage isn’t so different from anyone else’s. Maybe it isn’t that bad. How can I know?
- Impact on Kids: Will my kids’ school performance and behavior get worse? Will they grow up unable to trust, or to marry? Will I lose touch with them? Will they judge me harshly?
- Impact on Finances: Will I be plunged into poverty? Will all of us be unable to live anything like the lifestyle that we have been used to until now?
- Loneliness or Same Mistake: Will I be alone forever? Will I wind up in another relationship with someone even worse than the one I am in now?
- Rejection: Will my family, my friends, my community and/or my religious group reject me?
3) What were the main reasons you wished to write this book?
We started out doing personal research to find out the impact of our own divorces on our two children; along the way we realized we were writing a book about marriage and divorce.
Shortly after we started dating we confessed to one another our own fears, especially about the impact of each of our divorces on our children. Each one of us has a daughter from a previous marriage. One of our daughters was quite young, about 8, the other was in college.
We worried about all the things other people worry about: will our daughters judge us for having divorced; will they never want to marry themselves; will they become depressed and will it affect their school performance, relationships with friends, use of drugs or alcohol, or lead to promiscuity?
So we started doing some research. We were very surprised to put it mildly. The research studies, and there are many of them with thousands of kids that have lasted over thirty or more years, didn’t support our fears. Divorce wasn’t the thing that hurt kids, conflict in their home lives was the key to all those concerns, and the quality of their relationship with their parents. We wanted to tell this story to everyone.
4) What advice do you have for those readers in healthy relationships to make sure that things remain healthy?
There are five things we have found keep a relationship healthy.
- Remember what attracted you to spending time together. Both of you need to keep alive what attracted you in the first place. Make sure to make room in your relationship for whatever made you enjoy one another—especially companionship, physical closeness and romance. If you loved to go to movies together and talk about them afterward, if you loved cooking and eating meals together, if you loved bike riding together, if you loved the jokes you shared, don’t leave these things behind.
- Don’t bury problems, talk about them and keep trying to solve them. If you don’t argue openly about the things that bother each of you, that silence can be just as damaging as excessive open arguing. Remember that a marriage is always a work in progress. People evolve, problems come up, circumstances change and all of these things need to be talked about with tenderness and respect and the idea that each of you has a stake in finding a successful resolution. Keep talking, don’t let things go underground.
- Say “yes” instead of “no” at least 75% of the time. Everyone keeps an inner scorecard whether they want to acknowledge it or not. People develop a sense of whether the relationship is fair to them. Each person benefits when there’s a spirit of cooperation in almost all areas of your marriage. Research has shown that saying “yes” 3 out of 4 times to your partner’s requests makes for a happy marriage. That includes saying “yes” to your partner’s romantic overtures.
- Don’t neglect your kids, but don’t let them totally dominate your lives. Couples have to guard against being too child-centered as well as not sufficiently responding to their children’s needs. Too many couples take parenting so seriously that it becomes almost the entire focus of the marriage. Having kids together was only reason you got married.
- Keep working on yourself and your marriage; keep growing. One of the most common reasons people give for wanting to end marriages is boredom. They feel their partner stopped growing long ago and eventually that isn’t good enough to keep them in the marriage any longer.
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