Love and Marriage

I think most, if not all adults, will be in full agreement with what God’s Word, the Bible, stated at the very beginning: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I [God] will make a helper suitable for him.”1

The facts of life confirm this truth. As a New York Times article stated some time ago: “According to insurance statistics, the death rate for married men aged 25 to 34 is 1.5 per thousand; for single men it is twice as high—more than 3.5 per thousand. The difference is greater as men grow older: in the 35 to 44 group, the death rate for married men is 3.1 per thousand; for unmarried it is 8.3. Among all women, the mortality rate for single females is almost twice that of women who are or have been married.2

What is so tragic is the terrible high divorce rate that is breaking down so many marriages and tearing families apart. According to the McKinley Irvin law firm, “Most people already know that around 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce. The number is similarly high in many other developed nations. When you break that down by the number of marriages: 41 percent of first marriages end in divorce. 60 percent of second marriages end in divorce and 73 percent of third marriages end in divorce.”3

So why is it that so many marriages fail? According to twenty years of research from the University of Colorado, the number one cause of marriage breakdown is the inability to manage conflict creatively. The reality is that wherever there are more than two people together—and especially so in close relationships—there will always be a time or times of conflict even in the best of relationships. The critical issue then is how can conflicts be resolved before they destroy close relationships?

Broken relationships can only be
resolved when both parties acknowledge
their contribution to the conflict.

In my more than 20 years of leading relationship seminars, and teaching classes on divorce and grief recovery, I have found that there are two major reasons for the failure of managing conflict creatively that need to be resolved.

First, is the critical importance that each partner owns and accepts responsibility for what he/she is contributing to their conflict.

I have found that the majority of people in failed marriages primarily blame their spouse for the breakup of their marriage without even considering what they contributed. Poor or broken relationships can only be resolved when both parties acknowledge their contribution to the conflict. Yes, it is true that some people are belligerent, dogmatic, and abusive. Even the Bible implies that some people are impossible to get along with.4

Even then there is something each partner can do. It may be standing up for him/herself—that is, overcoming one’s overly passive or overly dependent nature, or super-sensitive style by saying "No more." and exercising tough love, but most important is quitting the “blame game” and seeing and admitting our part in the conflict.

For example, Jim's first marriage failed and he is now on his second marriage. Almost immediately after the honeymoon was over problems began to surface. By the end of the second year Jim and Sharon were in major conflict.

Their problem isn't their fighting. That's just a symptom of their unresolved personal issues. Unfortunately, while Sharon knows she has a problem, Jim doesn't think he has any. In his mind the conflict is all Sharon's fault.

True, Sharon had an abandoning father and feels very threatened whenever Jim even goes to lunch with a male friend. Her fear of abandonment gets triggered which causes her to cling to Jim. However, she admits she is overreacting and is going to counseling to help her resolve her problem.

Continued on Page Two


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5. All articles on the ACTS International website are by Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise noted.

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