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The Five Pillars of a Lasting Union: Insights from Divorcees and Experts

Divorce is a complex and often painful process, with causes ranging from lack of family support to infidelity and compatibility issues. A Forbes Advisor survey of 1,000 divorced or soon-to-be-divorced Americans reveals that nearly all participants believe their marriages could have been saved by various factors: Only 5 percent believe their relationship is beyond repair.

The survey identified five key elements that respondents believed could strengthen their marriages:

A Deeper Understanding of Marital Commitment: Before exchanging vows, a deep understanding of what marriage entails is crucial. A significant 63% of respondents believe this could have preserved their relationship.

Understanding your partner’s values ​​and morals: More than half of respondents (56%) believe that a better appreciation of their partner’s ethical and moral compass could have steered them away from divorce.

Delay family planning: The decision to start a family is monumental, and 44% believe that postponing this step could have contributed to marital longevity.

Career guidance: Seeking the expertise of therapists or counselors has been seen as a potential marriage savior.

Taking time before getting married: Patience in moving toward marriage has also been cited as a protective factor.

Lisa Marie Bobby, psychologist and founder of Growing Self Counseling & Coaching, highlights the fallacy of easy relationships. “There are myths in our culture that teach us that if you find the right person, everything goes smoothly,” she says. However, Bobby makes it clear that all partnerships endure challenges and that dealing with them is what strengthens a relationship.

Many couples who decide to get married have unrealistic expectations of happiness, says Lisa Marie Bobby, a psychologist and founder of Growing Self Counseling & Coaching in Denver.

“There are myths in our culture that teach us that if you find the right person, it’s smooth sailing,” she says. “You never have to course correct, and that is not true.”

“Getting in a car and going on a drive, let’s say you point your steering wheel in the right direction and then just take your hands off the wheel. And then you’re surprised when you end up in a ditch or think, ‘oh, if I had a new car, I wouldn’t have to steer anymore.'”

“Relationships are always going through this ebb and flow, growing further apart and then moving towards repair,” Bobby says. “And it’s this rupture and repair process that actually creates strong enduring relationships.”

More than half, 56%, of those surveyed said that a better understanding of their partner’s values ​​and morals could have helped them avoid divorce.

This, Bobby says, is a common problem with her clients as many people “index” sexual chemistry during dates.

“When people are dating and figuring out who they want to be with, chemistry is one part of that puzzle,” she says. “But you should be thinking more about: Is this person emotionally safe? Are they honest? Are they reliable? Are they a good friend? Are they here for me?”

And even if you’ve asked yourself these questions and are satisfied with the answers, Bobby says waiting to have kids is wise.

“There’s also a myth in our culture that having children is a path to happiness,” she says. “And what the research shows pretty clearly is that most couples, when they have a child they will experience a big drop in their relational satisfaction because things get a lot harder.”

Bobby also addresses the overemphasis on sexual chemistry in dating, advocating a focus on emotional security, honesty, reliability and friendship. Additionally, he dispels the myth that children automatically bring happiness, pointing out that many couples experience a decline in relationship satisfaction after giving birth.

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