How to beat the divorce odds

Is divorce the "new black"?
By Charles Orlando

Relationship challenges are becoming mainstream news. From Tiger Woods' and Jesse James' infidelity, to Al and Tipper Gore's divorce, it seems that more couples than ever are separating (and that's just the tip of the iceberg for the Gore family. In May of last year, former Vice President Al Gore's daughter Kristin divorced her husband, Paul Cusack.

And now, the news that Al and Tipper's daughter Karenna has been separated from her husband, Andrew Schiff, for a few months and may be nearing divorce proceedings).

The notion that marriage is a temporary institution isn't new. Sociologist and futurist wrote the best seller Future Shock in 1970, and with matter-of-fact conviction, he wrote of the rising trend of "trial" or "temporary marriages"-first marriages of young people, lasting three months to three years, and of "serial marriages" that would take place after the dissolution of the "trial marriage," happening at specific turning points in people's lives. Toffler's views hold true today.

Having accurately predicted the coming trends, he could see how men and women would begin to view marriage as a temporary state of being, and today the divorce rate still hovers at just over 50 percent.

But that 50% data point is just common data point. Here's the truth (from the US Census and the Association of Divorce Reform):

  • 19.5 million adults have been divorced at least once.

  • 50% of all marriages end in divorce within five years.

  • Of the couples that last five years, only 50% make it to their 10th wedding anniversary (That's a 75% divorce rate before the 10th anniversary)

  • 80% of divorcees reference "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for separation.
What most don't consider is how the rising divorce rate provides the quintessential example for children of just how temporary marriage-and all relationships-can be. And the children in these failed relationships are worse off. Broken (divorced) homes account for:
  • 63% of youth suicides
  • 90% of homeless/runaway children
  • 85% of children with behavior problems
  • 71% of high school dropouts
  • 85% of youths in prison
  • Over 50% of teen mothers
What can be done:

Be Ready. Why get into a committed relationship unless you're ready? There is no Cardinal Rule stating that people must get married by X date. Before taking the leap, it's not only important to know your partner, it's perhaps even more important to know yourself-who you are, and where you're going. After you know those two things, who will go with you is a choice, not a forced decision. And don't let anyone pressure you into committing before you're ready...including yourself.

Don't give up your individuality. People that put everything in their relationships and leave nothing back for themselves are setting themselves up for failure. Maintain your own life, interests, and friendships.

Put "effort", not "work, into your marriage/relationship. I've long suggested that a successful relationship or marriage takes effort, not "work". Oftentimes, Work is that thing you must do in order to have time and flexibility for the things you really want to do.

Effort is what you put in to activities you care about... that you are most passionate about making succeed. In short, Effort is a driving force behind a great partnership and marriage.

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