At this point we’ve all been told countless times that the divorce rates in the United States are hovering around 50% and have been for quite some time. Whether or not those stats are true is debatable, but they feel more and more real to me every day. I cannot count how many phone calls, emails, or text messages I’ve received in the past few years from people – no, from FRIENDS – telling me that their husband or wife is leaving them. That they’ve been cheated on or been unfaithful. That their marriage seems to be falling apart for one reason or another. It breaks my heart to see the reality of divorce, the devastation of broken dreams, and the toll it takes on their children. After all, I am one of those children.
My mother and father separated when I was just three years old. Their divorce was final by the time I was five years old, and then I never laid eyes on my father again until I was twenty-two. My younger sister and I were raised by our incredibly intelligent and independent single-mother. Fortunately, in our younger years, her family was around to help. Otherwise, she had no real community and we really were on our own. I share this background to tell you: the odds are not in my favor that I will stay married.
Stats aren’t completely clear, but it seems the risk of divorce goes up when one spouse is afflicted with any form of depression. The risk for divorce goes up 50% more when one spouse comes from a divorced home. The risk for divorce goes up again about 36% for adults who were sexually abused as children.
My husband, my rock, comes into our marriage with none of these stains. His parents are still married, no history of depression or abuse of any kind. I, on the other hand, carry these black marks in my heart, marks I didn’t ask for or bring upon myself. I know that a lot of you carry them as well. Still, I am hopeful. I plan to stay married, to honor the commitment I made to my husband, and to give my own daughters a better chance at their future.
But, the reality of how fragile marriage really is keeps me awake at night. I know that if I want my marriage to last, if I want my friends to stay married, we can’t simply be hopeful and then shrug our shoulders when something bad happens. We need to arm ourselves, to get around people who care about our marriage, and to invest in one another.
If you are one of my friends who has been separated or divorced, please know that I love you. I wish more than anything that you didn’t have to go through it. I remember your pain, your frustration, your sense of loss whether you were the one who left or the one who got left behind. I know things are complicated. I know it’s not easy to stay married. I know separating and divorcing is a painful decision to be faced with. I pray you know that I have hope for you, too.
So, as a woman hoping to stay married against the odds, I hope you will root for my husband and I. We are rooting for you and will continue to read and research and love each other in a way that brings hope and light and a chance for all of us to push against the stats that linger over us. I’ve started this blog to be a place of encouragement. The only qualification I have is hope. So, I will often cite other resources and share real life stories. I hope you find the things I write about helpful on your own pursuit to #staymarried.
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The #staymaried Book is a 52 Week Couples Devotional, each chapter exploring how our faith works together with our everyday lives and with relationship research to give a fuller picture of how we can create a marriage that doesn’t simply last, but fulfills our lives and helps us pursue our dreams. Find out more about the book here.