World News and Trends: Divorce not the solution to most unhappy couples' problems

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Divorce not the solution to most unhappy couples' problems

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Says a Wall Street Journal headline, "Matrimonial Lawyers Say Many Clients Can No Longer Afford to Get Divorced; There's Not Enough Money Left to Split" (The Wall Street Journal, July 24, "To Hold and No Longer Have: Stocks' Decline Roils Marriages").

More encouraging in the long term is a new study that shows that "splitting up doesn't increase happiness." A piece by syndicated columnist Mona Charen reported the results of a study by the Institute for American Values that showed that most unhappy couples do not become happier by going their separate ways.

"According to the survey conducted by a team of family researchers, unhappily married adults who divorced were no happier five years after the divorce than were equally unhappy marrieds who remained together. And two-thirds of unhappily married people who remained married reported that their marriages were happy five years later.

"Even among those who had rated their marriages as 'very unhappy,' nearly 80 percent said they were happily married five years later." The conclusion? Staying together and working through marital problems is the best way to go.

The study also included the surprising discovery that "unhappy spouses who divorced actually showed slightly more depressive symptoms five years later than those who didn't."

The study highlighted three ways in which couples can turn their marriages around.

"The first was endurance. Many couples do not so much solve their problems as transcend them. Moreover, these couples maintained a negative view of the effects of divorce. 'The grass is always greener,' explained one husband, 'but it's Astroturf.'

"Others were more aggressive. Those the researchers labeled the 'marital work-ethic' types [who] tackled their problems by arranging for more private time with one another, seeking counseling [from clergy or professionals], receiving help from in-laws or other relatives, or in some cases, threatening divorce or consulting a divorce lawyer.

"In the third category were the 'personal happiness seekers' who found other ways to improve their overall contentment even if they could not markedly improve their marital happiness."

Speaking of divorce, Jesus said, "what God has joined together, let not man separate" (Matthew 19:6 Matthew 19:6Why they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.
American King James Version×
). He makes it clear that God never intended that people divorce: "... From the beginning it was not so" (verse 8). It's been only 30 years since no-fault-divorce laws became the norm in the Western world, with the resultant unhappiness that accompanies the breakdown of family life. This is not the way God intended things to be.

Couples should commit to working through their marital problems and not follow the ways of this world. Follow God's law, not man's loopholes. (Sources: The Wall Street Journal, Lansing State Journal.)