Returning from the brink of divorce...


Monday, January 21, 2019

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MOST couples hope for happily ever after, but unfortunately it's not possible to escape all the rainy days. And some experts say these will most commonly plague couples in the first seven years of marriage. Fortunately for those who survive what many old wives refer to as the seven-year itch — considered the most difficult years of marriage — the chances of their marriage ending in a separation or divorce after diminishes significantly.

Those couples who survive this treacherous period will tell you that it took great will to achieve this, and below some explain how they did it, and avoided separation/divorce.



Michelle, 45, medical practitioner, married 11 years:

It took a while for me to realise that I was really married and for my husband, I would say, the same. The hardest years I would say were the first four to five years and it took me threatening him with divorce for him to change. He had a child outside of the union, he cheated, he wasn't providing for the home as he should, and I reached my breaking point when he called me another woman's name. The night before I left, he came to me asking me to pray for him. He acknowledged all that he did wrong and said that he could not understand why I stayed. The truth is, I stayed not just because I love him, but because of the commitment we made before God. He begged me to help him and we got counselling. He took his homework seriously and he worked on the areas of our marriage he was doing poorly in. He got involved with the kids, he started talking to me instead of at me, we discussed instead of fought, and we basically followed the recommendations of the counsellor. We didn't fix things overnight and things happened now and then, but we worked on things as a team and gradually after about three years my marriage was at a place where I was happy, comfortable, and I enjoyed it.


Phillip, 39, driving instructor, married 9 years:

There were rough days after even the first seven years of our marriage, but definitely I could categorise the first seven years as being among the hardest. The reason why I say that is because those were our building years, those were the years that we did everything from scratch, and when we were working on everything as a young couple. So there were a lot of disagreements and I had to learn to love my wife even when I didn't like her and the things that she did. Also, I had to learn that my wife wasn't psychic so I had to tell her instead of assuming she knew or should know because no two people ALWAYS think the same things. This also affects communication positively which is where many relationships fail. I prefer for her to say, 'Honey, you don't have to tell me so many times', or 'Honey, you didn't have to explain yourself', than to say, 'All you needed to do was say something to me or explain it'. We know that we have to share our displeasure about things instead of getting vexed and we always try to do things together because intimacy is key.


Brenton, 51, industrial plant supervisor, married 14 years:

I got married to a woman I hardly knew. We were dating about eight months but I knew she was the one. We were from different cultural backgrounds so that made it harder. We argued a lot, we were both at the peak of our careers, and we weren't spending enough time together. We still had to learn about each other and get used to living together. We also had to work out money and the house and who was responsible for what. It was a lot of small things but we figured it out together and trust me, it wasn't easy. I would say that we survived divorce — because we honestly were ready to call it quits many times — by learning not to leave things in the balance and by that I mean leaving issues unresolved over long periods. We had to learn that it isn't fair to either of us and so we had to learn to deal with our issues in the moment or with urgency so we didn't have so many disagreements. One other thing is we tried not to involve too many family members because that can be very problematic. If we needed the input of someone we brought in an independent party. Family can sometimes complicate things.


Kathy, 36, business strategist/entrepreneur, married 10 years:

I would say that the first seven years of marriage are not only the hardest, but they may very well be among the happiest — just like a business the start-up tends to be very difficult. It can be tedious, time-consuming, and it can drain you if you allow it to. Marriage is similar because the first five years or so are investment years — and because my partner and I were so career-oriented our marriage almost failed many times because we were investing in ourselves individually but never as a team. So for a while I watched us do well individually and then it seemed like a competition, and one day my mom asked me something about my husband. I looked at our house and things were so divided and I saw divorce on the horizon and I saw where my husband had stretched his hand for partnership on more than one occasion but I just looked the other way. I knew we loved each other and we couldn't make it all go to waste. So one morning I made the conscious decision to take a break from everything else that had my attention and I said to him, 'I am ready to be your wife', and it started there. First, we spent more time enjoying each other's company, we explored things we both enjoyed, we talked children then had them, and that was another bonding point for us. We worked on forgiveness because we realised we both often blamed each other for things. We acknowledged that we were both human and we erred and we made it clear that when we say we forgive each other it meant letting the matter rest. It took me a while to really learn how to, but I'm much better at it now. One more thing is, I am very spiritual and I prayed for my marriage, and I also made it very easy for us to communicate.





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