In my previous two blogs, I wrote about the biblical reasons for being intentional about meeting your spouse’s needs. Today, I’d like to finish my justification for “meeting needs” by looking at reasons for unhappy marriages.
As you can imagine, a spouse’s feeling of not being loved and valued represents a serious problem for the relationship. Research reveals that not being loved or valued represents a significant predictor of divorce.
In a study done by Lynn Gigy and Joan Kelly of the California Divorce Mediation Project and referenced by America’s foremost divorce expert, John Gottman, “the major reasons for divorcing given by close to 80% of all men and women were gradually growing apart and losing a sense of closeness, and not feeling loved and appreciated” (emphasis added), (Gottman, The Marriage Clinic, p. 23, 1999).
In addition, Gottman summarized several research projects investigating the reasons for divorce. He wrote that “feeling unloved” was the most commonly cited reason (emphasis added) for wanting a divorce (67% of the women in the California study and 75% in a Danish study).
He went on to conclude that “most marriages end with a whimper, the result of people gradually drifting apart and not feeling liked, loved, and respected” (Gottman, The Marriage Clinic, 1999, p. 24). If you marriage is drifting apart, you are not alone.
With regard to the actual divorce rate, the good news is that the “church attending” Christian divorce rate stands about 35% less than those with no church affiliation. The bad news is that the divorce rate for “church attending” Christians is still about 32% to 38% (see Bradley Wright, in Christians are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told, 2010, p. 133). Imagine that ~ one in three “church attending” marriages will end in divorce. And, most of the rest aren’t really that happy !
In addition to the potential for divorce, a wife’s feeling unloved and not valued contributes to other problems as well. Everett Worthington, a prominent researcher, writes, “When people do not feel loved (that is, valued), they may feel sad, angry, jealous, depressed, resentful or bitter….When they deal with the emotions in the flesh, the emotions grow and transmute into even uglier emotions….When people do not feel loved, they also act…they may seek revenge, become self-preoccupied or withdraw from the marriage psychologically or physically” (Worthington, Hope-Focused Marriage Counseling, p. 46).
Finally, for all you guys out there, research indicates that wives are less satisfied in their marriages than husbands. Is it any wonder that it is usually the wives who drag their husbands to counseling? According to research, wives are more likely than husbands to be unhappy with their marriage and to have thoughts of divorce (Bernard, 1972; Huber and Spitze, 1980; Kitson, 1992; Amato & Rogers, 1997).
So, what can you do about it? Well, first, understand that if not feeling loved is at the core of an unhappy marriage, than meeting needs must be at the core of a satisying relationship. And, second, resolve to meet your spouse’s needs. It’s not really rocket science, yet most couples don’t get to a mutually satisfying relationship. How sad!
As we begin in 2012 to look at ways to meet needs in your marriage, one suggestion I have for you is to have your spouse read along in these blogs. That way, you can discuss the ideas as they come up. One suggestion I have to get your spouse to read along is for you to give them a little incentive for doing it (ask your spouse what a suitable reward might look like for reading along and then do it for them — it will be worth your while, I promise). If you are having problems getting your spouse to read along, contact me as I’d be happy to brainstorm with you how to get that to take place.
My next blog will start us with Step # 1 to meeting needs (and having your needs met). Boy, that sounds a whole lot better than divorce or an unhappy marriage. Don’t you agree?
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