Thursday, March 11, 2010

Well, How Did You Do on the Good Enough Marriage Test?

posted by Michele Olson
Ginger Tobias from "O, The Oprah Magazine" wrote an article that was picked up by MSN Lifestyle blog. After conveying some stories of marital discord, she wonders about the good old “grass is greener” feeling that many people secretly think about in their marriage. Or, are we foolishly holding out for a perfect marriage, one that really is never going to exist. She points to a study that Paul Amato, Ph.D., professor of sociology, demography, and family studies at Penn State, conducted. This 20-year study on 2,000 subjects says that 55 to 60 percent of divorcing couples are ending something that has real potential. Why? It’s the old “I love you, but I can’t be with you.” Boredom sets in or they feel their mate has not lived up to their expectations.

Say what? Breakfast in bed, gazing longingly into one another’s eyes and perfect breath isn’t happening at your house every minute of every day?

"It's important to recognize that many of these marriages would improve over time," Amato says, "and most of them could be strengthened through marital counseling and enrichment programs." (hint hint, is a great resource for those “enrichment programs.”)

Thus begins the test to see if your marriage is one of those “good enoughs” that will probably get better if you keep going. Here are the 10 from the article. Where do you fit in?

1. Are you exaggerating the negatives? For the next two months mark the good and bad days on your calendar to get a reality check.

2. Have you already left the marriage by emotionally withdrawing? Or by giving up all attempts to make the relationship better? If so, can you find a way to reengage?

3. Do you get so angry that you hit each other or throw things at least once a month? If the answer is yes, are you hanging on to a terrible relationship because you're afraid of being alone? Or because you're convinced it's the best you can do?

4. If you're frustrated because your husband won't change (you'd like him to be more forceful or manly, for example), is it really necessary that he does? Is there anything in your family history that may be driving your need to transform him? (For example, perhaps your father never stood up for you when you needed him to do so.)

5. Have you been teaching your husband the wrong lessons by not challenging his hurtful behavior? (You don't say anything when he criticizes you in public. He never washes the dishes, so you just do them, resentfully.)

6. Do you have fun together? Even when things are tough, do you make jokes about it? (A good sign.) If not, can you make time in your marriage for more play?

7. Are there conflicts that you've avoided in the relationship? What do you fear would happen if you confronted them?

8. Do you simply need more time alone? A weekend on your own every so often to make the heart grow fonder?

9. Has something occurred — a death, a big birthday, a job loss — that's throwing off your relationship and needs to be addressed?

10. Have you done everything you possibly can to make this marriage work? Are you certain he has heard your complaints? Have you tried a marriage-education class or couples therapy? If he won't go to counseling, have you gone yourself to see how you might save the relationship?

At we would like to shout loud and clear…have you tried a marriage education workshop? If not, why not? Thoughts on this article?


Anonymous said...

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Glad is was helpful, and also glad you are learning about healty relationships earlier rather than later in life. Keep learning!