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!