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Marriage, Divorce, and Kids

By Mark Brandenburg

Are men to blame for the divorce problem in this country?

Itís been said that one of the reasons for the high rate of divorce in this country is the way men choose their wives. Specifically, they choose their wives in a fashion similar to how they choose their next car.

They get the best-looking one available, and hope thereís not much maintenance down the road.

While this may occasionally be true, there are also certain practices that married couples must follow in order to avoid adding to a divorce rate that hovers around 50%. These practices are important for the success of your marriage, and theyíre also essential for the well-being of your children.

In Maggie Gallagherís book, ďThe Abolition of Marriage,Ē she states that, ďHalf of all children will witness the breakup of a parentís marriage. Of these, close to half will also see the breakup of a parentís second marriage.Ē

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Can we possibly continue with a system in which half of our children witness the breakup of their parentís marriage? Is a divorce rate near 50% enough to have us consider new ideas about how we decide about marriage and divorce? One new idea we might put into place is to educate people about the qualities of a successful marriage. We canít be effective when we educate them a month before they marry. Emotional intelligence skills and relationship skills must be taught to our young people early in life.

When we do teach them about successful relationships, we should include these qualities:

1. Commitment

According to one definition, ďcommitment is a freely chosen inner resolve to follow through with a course even though difficulty arises. How do we show our children what to do when difficulty arises? Do we move to where the grass is greener? Commitment is a daily discipline. Itís the chat after dinner, and the kiss before work. Itís the core from which we respond to difficulty. Itís what makes our lives richer and deeper.

2. Emotional Awareness

If we know whatís really bothering us, we can have effective and meaningful conversations with our spouse. We can be genuine, honest, and open with each other. And we can discover that much of the pain we feel in our relationship is actually our past emotional history coming back to haunt us.

If youíre planning on getting married someday, you need to be aware of what your emotional issues are. If you donít know them, youíre a great candidate to add to a divorce rate thatís already staggering.

3. Be Kind, Not Right

We tend to have a tremendous stake in showing our loved ones that weíre right. An enormous amount of time is wasted in our relationships by arguing over whoís right or wrong. This excessive arguing is just an indication of our low self-esteem. A much easier and more effective way to be in a relationship is to commit to kindness. When youíre kind, you donít need to be right. And itís so much easier for others to be with you!

There certainly are divorces that are respectful of children, and many may be ďjustifiable.Ē But the number of divorces that damage childrenís lives is mind-blowing. And the trail behind them is strewn with actions and decisions that reek of childish self-interest.

Itís time for couples to grow up. Itís time to stop looking to ďget your needs metĒ in your relationship, and to start looking to meet the needs of your family. Itís time to stop running away when things get difficult, and to start persevering through the pain.

And most importantly, itís time to see what running away does to the lives of children.

Because the cost of not doing these things is beyond measure.

© Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC
Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC, is the author of "25 Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent Fathers". For more great tips and action steps for fathers, sign up for his FREE bi-weekly newsletter, Dads, Don't Fix Your Kids, at


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