Editor's note: The following was adapted from a column published on FamilyShare.com.
Here are the five best reasons to get a divorce:
- Money conflicts and expectations
- Sexual difficulties and disappointments
- Parenting differences
- Career or goal disagreements
- Faith or belief conflicts
Or, at least, these are the five reasons or areas of disagreement that we observe mentioned most often by those who do divorce.
Are they good reasons? Is that a good list of justifications for divorce?
Perhaps when people feel incompatible and discouraged, these are the five things they blame it on.
But for those who want their marriage to work — those who want to do whatever they can to avoid divorce — this could be a list of things to communicate about.
They also need to be communicated about in strong marriages.
It’s an interesting two-sided coin: The five things that are most commonly blamed for divorce are the very five things that have to be the topics of open, constant communication if a marriage is to be strong and lasting.
Consistent, candid conversation about each of the five is what will turn them into strengths and elements of unity instead of problems that can lead to separation or divorce.
Sometimes when we present these five “communication necessities” in marriage seminars, we get some pushback:
Can’t we each have our own finances — why share everything?
Why do we have to talk about sex — can’t we just do it?
She’s strict with the kids and I’m not — we just agree to disagree.
We’ve each got our own careers and our own career goals, and we don’t always share them.
Why do we have to agree on and talk about something as personal as our faith?
These questions are symptoms of bigger problems to come. Whether we like it or not, the fact is that any of these five subjects, if they go unresolved and undiscussed, can bring down a marriage. On the other hand, if they are openly and almost constantly talked about, they can be the basis of the kind of understanding and empathy, if not agreement, that can keep a marriage strong.
We can’t just leave communication on the "Big 5" to chance. Here are some ideas and patterns that can help keep them open, accessible and at the top of our minds and the front of our conversation:
- Try to always go to bed together at the same time to facilitate “pillow talk.” Share any concern you have in any of the five areas.
- Go on a weekly date that continues your courtship and gives you regular opportunities to “catch up” with any feelings related to any of the five.
- Have a “marriage and parenting review” together once a month where you talk about each of the "Big 5" and then talk about each of your children and how he or she is doing physically, mentally, socially, emotionally and spiritually.
- Hold a weekly “Sunday session” or meeting between just the two of you where you discuss your schedule and goals for the coming week. And on the first Sunday of the month, make it more of a little getaway to plan the month ahead. Then, once a year, take a short trip together to set goals for the coming year and think through each of the "Big 5" and evaluate whether you are in full communication about each one.
- Pray together every night and seek spiritual help in being more united in all five areas.
- Adopt the motto: “Unexpressed feelings never die, they just get buried and come forth later in uglier forms.”
Both take effort, but both are worth it.
For more, see the Eyres on the Road YouTube channel.