What We Can Learn From Failed Marriages

Some couples consider “falling out of love gracefully” about as good as a failed marriage can get. In other words, the fights and cursing are brought to a minimum, and both couples just seem to accept their fate as another divorce statistic. As easy and painless as it may seem, if these couples do not take the time to learn from what has happened to this relationship, there’s a good chance it will happen again in a later one.

The Americans for Divorce Reform estimates that 40 to 50 percent of couples will end in divorce during their first marriage, 60 to 67 percent during their second, and 73 to 74 during their third. It would seem that your chances of a successful marriage decline as you experience more failure, suggesting that we don’t actually learn from these experiences much at all… but why?

Besides the fact that divorce brings greater tension to future relationships, many people just don’t take the time to think about what they’ve learned. Studying a failed marriage can show you the patterns that might be leading to the unwanted situations you find yourself in, but it’s up to you to do the dirty work to get to that point.

As Les Brown would say, most people do not fail in life because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit! This is a great quote for this article, I think, because it reminds us that one of the main reasons so many marriages fail,\ is because we let them.

So what can failure teach us?

1. Don’t Rush

Do you rush into relationships heart first and fail to read the obvious red flags? Many relationships can be prevented by noting any particular attractions you have that seem to get you in trouble, such as overconfidence, mystery, or the highs (infatuation) and lows (depression) of rollercoaster relationships.

2. It’s Not You, It’s Me

Sometimes marriages fail from our own blindness to incompatibility, but other times it’s because we fail to exhibit sensitivity and tenderness towards our own partners. Some people grow up thinking life owes them something, and that’s how they treat their relationships. What should matter most isn’t what your partner can bring to the relationship, but what you can bring to them. Pat Benatar was wrong. Love is not a battlefield… it’s a team effort.

3. Take Action

Many relationships fail because we keep our heads in the sand and refuse to accept the fact that trouble might be brewing on the communication and intimacy front. If you were to learn anything from your previous failures, the most important would be that failure is never final until you have completely given up. In other words, as said previously, one of the main reasons so many marriages fail, is because we let them. Instead, most marriage counselors advise to take action at the first sign of trouble.

4. Moderation in All

To live a well-rounded life, you’ll need to satisfy many goals. For instance, those who focus on only their buzzing careers often experience relationship problems. Those who focus only on their relationships end up feeling unfulfilled as an individual. It may take a while to figure out your perfect balance in life, but it will be well worth it. In other words, don’t invest all your time on one area in your life, or you might find that once you have it mastered, you’ve already lost more than you gained.

5. Who’s in Charge?

Many marriages get off track when they become defined as a boss and an employee. You may think you’re guaranteeing success in your marriage by giving your partner everything they want, but in fact you’re only succeeding in loosing respect, your identity, and the chance of getting your own needs met. Remember, marriage should be defined as a union of equal partners, not as one of a tyrant and servant.

6. Putting a Failing Marriage into Perspective

Failure is inevitable in any relationship. That is never the problem. What the problem is, is what we do with these failures once they present themselves upon us. Many great people have failed multiple times before succeeding, such as Thomas Edison and Art Fry (inventor of the sticky note). The true art to learning from failure is understanding that failing is a form of testing ideas until you get the desired results. With enough effort, we all stand a pretty good chance of getting things right eventually!

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13 thoughts on “What We Can Learn From Failed Marriages

  1. Dhamma

    When a person just does not care about others and thinks only about himself/herself and to whom selfish ends justify any means…….the marriage/relationship is bound to fail. For such people no relationship/marriage can work.

  2. drsat

    I find this article a wonderful one and also the comments posted by other readers and responders.
    Facing the breakdown of my marriage, when i introspect the reasons for the breakdown i identify that communication and intimacy are the key for a marriage to last long.Unfortunately we and i also have realised it late.Of course it is and will be a very important lesson and experience of my life and should be for all my brethren who are or have faced this ugly truth.I will agree with the comment that failure in marriage is possible and not inevitable.Accepting the truth of divorce gracefully by both the members of the relationship will help in making the separation less painful.
    One thing which i fail to understand and accept is the opinion from many of my well wishers- that divorce or other sad events are a part of our destiny and should be accepted like that.esp after trying all efforts to save the marriage.
    My arguement is that if the DIVORCE was destined to happen then the marriage shouldnt have happened in the first place.No body enters into a marriage with a possibility that it will or can fail one day.
    May be we ascribe our failures to DESTINY and console ourselves.No one knows or can know his or her destiny.
    What will help is to accept the reality and learn from it and move on WHICH I WILL DO.

  3. misskrystal

    Great article. Everyone said wonderful things.
    I just want to add-If it bothers you that you divorced, just remind yourself, “This was just an experience”
    and try to avoid the same type of person you did not sustain with-stop going with the same type…If you failed with type A, you just may be better with Type B….Sometimes this really does the trick 🙂
    or, you could possibly have a repeat, again…Don’t count out opposites, there is a reason opposites come together, and can learn balance together. I have a strong Type A personality, was married to the same…It was too much energy-this was years and years ago, but, we were not a match… We did divorce and I believe it was mutual…Now, at present, I have been with a person who is very calm, and it helps me be more calm…I am direct and he is gentle…It works much better for me. He says it works great for him..
    A lot of times two of the same type can also get bored…..I am not saying if you are both super alike it can’t work, but adjustments will have to be made-ie- two shy/ calm people, then one has to spice it up-two sizzling firey types, then one has to step back-anything could work as long as both keep working it at, but if you have not sustained with one type, it may be in your best interest to try another type….It worked for me and many of my divorced buddies…Now, I got a type A brother who is single, trying to find him a nice and calm, sweet girl who will appreciate his entertaining style….He already had two girls just like himself, and they sizzled out……Will keep you all posted…
    Thanks for the article…Miss Krystal

  4. Tam Bortz

    Marriage is a beautiful thing , its something you don’t fail, it works or it don’t . No one wins no one loses. you just learn. Is every parent comfortable with their relationship with their children???? There’s always questions and doubts and a real relationship between husband and wife or parents and siblings is always ongoing, Just never stop caring, be yourself !! ENJOY LIFE

  5. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    Well Conniemg…..

    Personally speaking…..I apologize for the misspellings……but I’m slowly losing my eye sight……I cannot correct what I cannot see…..So I ask for patience on the part of the people reading my posts.

    Blessed Be )O(
    Gina Rose ext.9500

  6. bobhoffele

    When asked how many times do I for give.
    Gods answer was as many times as it takes.
    Live in forgiveness and be independent in the marriage. Control is not a part of marriage.
    I love all the articles. And the different responses.
    Age and a willingness to grow is key.

  7. Jackie Warren

    Any relationship has the potentual to either thrive or fail, depending on how you enter it. I agree with most of what is in this article, but I don’t feel it is complete. I would add a few more things to it, such as;
    It doesn’t matter how long you have known the person or how long your courtship lasts before you get married in respects to the whether or not it last. A marriage occuring after a long courtship has just as much of a chance of ending in divorce as a marriage considered rushed. You may have known your partner your whole life and feel it’s a perfect union, until you are married and dealing with things on a different level then you have done before. Then again, you may only know someone for a matter of a few months and things just click with you when you get married. It’s all in the way you enter into your relationship, not how long you’ve known the person.
    Communication is important and learning what is needed to communicate efficiently with your partner is a must, especially considering you both come from 2 different backgrounds, learned different ways to talk to your own family members, raised with different values and support systems and have different thoughts, ideas and reasons for things you do, ways you feel, and things you believe. So listening to your partner and caring about what they are saying is also must. Discussing differences in how each of you do things or think things should be done and coming to an agreement about how things will be done in your own home needs to happen to prevents contention and anger towards each other from destroying your marriage.
    Respect for each others beliefs, values, needs, and desires is also important. You may not have the same religious, political, or social beliefs and values, but you don’t have to in order for a relationship to work. All you need to do is respect your partners beliefs and values and not try to make them change their values to make you happy and satisfy your own desires. Your needs and desires are ultimately going to be different to your partners need and desires, this is a given. Knowing what your partners needs and desires are, as well as knowing what your own needs and desires are, communicating them to each other, and respecting each other enough to help each other fulfill these needs and desires, will go a long way to strengthening your relationship.
    Running a home takes an equal partnership. Knowing what is needed to keep a home and family running smoothly takes a lot of dedication, desire, understanding, forgiveness, and most importantly, sacrifice from everyone, especially when there are children involved. Don’t leave all the discipline and raising of the children to one parent, this will lead to contention and a disconnected relationship between each other and your children. Make it a point to spend adequate and quality time with each other and with your children. Do things with your children and your partner that are important to them, even if you don’t want to or don’t like what they are wanting to do. If you don’t, resentment from your children and your partner will likely occur. Take time for yourself, but not at the expense of your family. Remember, your immediate family and their needs and desires should come first before anyone or anything else.

  8. conniemg

    I really wish people would review what they write, correct errors or mis-information, and slow down when they write, so others know what they are talking about. Instead of writing so fast that they don’t finish a thought … it’s very annoying to read comments that mean well, but don’t make any sense. Just take a little effort..please!

  9. pa75

    This was true for me. My marriage ended this year, but about 11 years ago felt that I would probably divorce the man eventually. Stayed together for the kids, and now things are good for them, so I’m healing and getting my self-esteem back, and grateful that my kids are okay. Definitely learned some lessons on the way! I was really interested in reading this great article. If there is one thing I would change about it though, as I am ever the optimist, is in #6: Failure is ‘possible’ in any relationship, not ‘inevitable.’

  10. dhruba


    Points are true and valid. But in my opinion there are few things that we must add. The most important points, in my opinion are as follows:

    1. Hiding of information

    Hiding the information is the main cause for conflicts in the husband wife relationship. Initially, it may be small but when such small things cumulate, it takes the violent situation.

    2. Not sharing the feelings

    Sharing the feeling is good way to make the good relationship. Many husbands do not share such things in home. To walk with partner, play with children etc make strong bonds for husband wife relationship. It rarely can see in many families. Uncertainty always put them in pressure. They may both worry for the future of their children but may not share to each other.

    3. Relationship to other than his/her life partner

    In my opinion, mostly husband and wife always worry about the relationship of his/her life partner to other woman/man outside. If they found a tiny proof about it, it would create the cold relationship between them and ultimately it ends with divorce.

    4. Easy marriage

    Those who marry without knowing to each other, can separate in the same manner. Anyone (husband or wife) cannot tolerate the small mistakes of his/her life partner. If the marriage were confirmed from the parents level, their problems will be solved from parents level easily. Marry without consulting parents may also be the one reason of divorce.

    5. Individualistic nature

    The divorce rate will be certainly low for those society where there is mutual cooperation among the neighbors. Such hello hi and helps among neighbors help to make the strong relationship within the family too. In such environment, people can share problems easily and can get the solution quickly. Also they can learn from others past mistakes. But today, individualistic concept is growing. People do not know about their next door neighbor.

    Dhruba Banjade

  11. Jacqueline

    Hi Eric,
    Very true valid points, I would love to also add, too, often times couples tend to be controlling in a relationship, feeling like there way is the only way that things can be done, when we truly become happy and at peace with our-self, living a fluid life, not allowing our insecurities to flub us up.

    Many times I have seen that relationships are learning experiences, if we don’t learn what we are to learn from the relationship, the next one will be the same, different face, same issues.

    Blessings and Big Hugs!
    Jacqueline x9472

  12. Gina Rose ext.9500Gina Rose ext.9500

    Sad, but all of the points in this article are true….
    One of the relationship therapists I read for told me something, a few years ago, that shocked even me……this therapist said that 80% of the couples walking thru her door for marital counseling are ” ten years too late “.
    I thought that statistic was extremely high……so I asked a few of the other professionals I read for about that number…. and to my surprise they said the same thing.
    WOW !!

    So # 3 is very important…..seek help at the very beginning of marital problems….don’t wait until the marriage has eroded beyond the point of repair.

    Blessed Be )O(
    Gina Rose ext.9500


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