Posts in the 'divorce' Category

Real Bride Shannon: Never Tell Me the Odds

Real Bride Shannon: Never Tell Me the Odds

It’s an unfortunate fact that almost all of us have that work “friend” or casual acquaintance or sometimes even a family member that’s gotta be a total Debbie Downer when it comes to marriage. You’re in a state of bliss with a ring on your finger and a head full of forever and someone’s gotta be the person to roll their eyes and ask why because, “Half of marriages end in divorce!”

Seriously? Wow. WOW.

If you’re anything like me, the first time someone dropped that little nugget of “wisdom” you had to shake yourself from the daydream of pouncing on that person like a lion and ripping out fistfuls of hair before you could respond. While I’ve certainly never acted on any thoughts of violence, I do tend to handle these situations with a large dose of biting sarcasm.

“Actually, divorce rates are down because people can’t afford it. If we’ve got the cash when we start to hate each other, things can’t be all bad!”

Yes, I’ve actually said that and the words tasted like vinegar coming out of my mouth. Some people will tell you sarcasm is the lowest form of wit; I speak it as a fluent second language, but that was a little heavy-handed, even for me. We’re not entering this marriage with divorce in mind and certainly not anticipating a time that we will grow to hate each other, but I’ve always been a fan of the ad ridiculum (otherwise known as the appeal to ridicule) argument in specific situations and this seemed to fit.

It’s terribly likely that someone will, at some point, drop this little factoid on you. A year into my engagement I’ve heard it plenty. Suck the power out of the words as fast as you can. You can argue about the validity and health of your relationship, but it’s important to remember that anyone who tells you this is likely coming from a place of bitterness. Speaking to the goodness of your relationship will likely just end in the person accusing you of thinking you’re better than everyone else and both parties are going to walk away mad. Making it a joke and making yourself the butt of it denies them the satisfaction of hurting you. I’ve used more benign quips like, “Well, I’m really sure I’m right about this, but we all know I’ve been wrong before! *shrug*” “Nah, he knows he’s stuck with me for life. It’s basically a threat at this point.” “Oh, we agree we’ll stay together for the pets.” Just try not to attack back. It never ends well.

The fight over who keeps the cat would be brutal.

The fight over who keeps the cat would be brutal.

The whole “half of marriages” thing is one of those largely untrue ideas that a lot of people believe and continue to misrepresent, but sometimes people can get even more personal. My fiancé is a law enforcement officer and that comes with a whole bunch of ugly statistics, true or not. There is a fairly common idea that police and law enforcement officers have a divorce rate of upwards of 70%. The truth is, there are very few scientific studies to support or deny these claims. Now, my favorite way to argue is to pluck a contradictory statistic from the encyclopedia of my mind that can be immediately verified with a Google search producing a .gov or .edu source (Thanks, journalism school!), but there just isn’t a lot verified data on the subject.

What is widely known to be true is that marriages in which at least one partner has a high-stress job or one that commands a lot of traveling and separation do tend to dissolve more frequently than average. You may not be marrying a cop, but a lot of you are marrying teachers, coaches, military personnel, pilots, journalists or any other profession that’s considered “high stress” (which, let’s be honest, is most jobs). When bitter people throw out statistics that are more personal than societal, it stings.

This is when I feel like it’s totally appropriate to turn the statement back on them. Put them on the spot. “So do you have a problem with cops, marriage or me?” is my favorite. I’ve run into this situation three times in the last year and every single person has stuttered and responded with some form of, “I’m just saying … ” Cool, dude. Conversation over. You’re dismissed.

We’ve all got a lot that’s going to ruffle our feathers during the whole wedding planning adventure. Don’t give negative people the power. Your relationship is the sole property of you and your partner and no one will ever understand it like the two of you! Divorce isn’t the end of everything. Some of the people I love most in the world have been divorced. Have an open dialogue with your partner about what your vows mean, what you feel is grounds for a divorce and what your two will do together. Looking to the future can keep you from getting blindsided by the present.

Photoby Shaina Sheaff
Photo by Shaina Sheaff

Has anyone tried to neg on your engagement? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments!



On Marriage: Our Love Affair with Predicting Divorce

As an often-times (admittedly) snarky person, I’m not immune to flippantly “predicting” the outcome of others’ affairs. I know it’s not a good thing and it can breed negativity, but I also mind the company I keep when doing so, and I know with all certainty I’m not alone in my passive judgements. But what’s more telling than an outsider’s view on a couple’s status is how the couple themselves talk about their pairing. In a similar vein to The Masters of Love post from a few weeks back, Our Love Affair with Predicting Divorce — published on The New York Times website — considers our interactions with one another over time as an indicator for how relationships fare.

On Marriage: Our Love Affair with Predicting Divorce

Photo by Angie Chung via Flickr Creative Commons. Modified with PicMonkey.

One of the great love stories of our era is not a celebrity coupling or an on-screen romance but a series of psychological experiments. These experiments aim to predict which couples will divorce, based on how they act while married. And while some have questioned their findings, the idea that marital discord is predictable (and, perhaps, preventable) retains its hold on our hearts.

This week, Melissa Dahl and Abraham Riesman of The Science of Us riff on a 1992 study that looked at the way couples talked about their lives together — and that’s now, as they note, “something of a social psychology classic.” They write:

“The couples who told their stories in a more withdrawn, negative manner were more likely to have split three years later, while couples who told their stories in a more expressive, open way tended to stick it out. All couples face hard times, it’s true, but the couples who were more likely to stay together spoke about those tough moments with more fondness and nostalgia than the couples who eventually parted ways.”

By analyzing how the couples talked, the study authors — Kim T. Buehlman, John M. Gottman and Lynn F. Katz — were able to create a model that predicted with close to 94 percent accuracy which of them would be divorced within three years. They wrote, “We can suggest at this juncture that not only can we predict divorce and the process of marital dissolution with high accuracy but we may also understand what drives the process.”

To continue reading Our Love Affair with Predicting Divorce, head over to The New York Times website.

On Marriage: 6 Things Young Brides Need to Know About Marriage

Like Lindsey Ellison, author of this post — which originally appeared on The Huffington Post — , I also read a plethora of advice columns before my first marriage. But I’ve found, in my time since leaving that marriage, that it’s the divorced ladies that actually know their shit. Not that married ladies don’t, but there’s an extra wisening that happens when you make the choice to leave. A lot of this resonated with me, very strongly, and in talking with friends in similar circumstances, they agree. And while the title of the post specifies young brides, I think it rings true with brides or grooms of any age, on any number of marriage.

Sitting Ringside


By JD Hancock via Flickr Creative Commons

I have seen the “advice for brides” columns before. They are often laden with sugar-coated, diluted suggestions for living happily ever after: “Communication is the key to happiness” or “Healthy fighting equals a successful marriage.”

I read them all before I got married. At 24 years old, I thought I knew I was doing — because when you’re in your twenties, you think you are wise beyond your years. But after two children and 10 years of marriage, clearly I wasn’t wise enough, as my “happily ever after” ended with divorce.

Now, I am a divorce coach — coaching women who are unhappily married looking to end their relationship, or those who are recently divorced. I have talked with hundreds of women worldwide about their regrets and what they have learned.

Here’s what you need to know before you say “I do”:

1) It’s not about the wedding, but the man at the end of the aisle: The bridal marketing industry has done a great job brainwashing us to think we need that dream wedding. More than ever, brides are obsessed with spending thousands on a dress they will wear for only four hours, as well as months of planning every detail down to the last flower petal. Don’t forget the purpose of the wedding — which is to marry your best friend. When you walk down the aisle focus on him, not everyone looking atyou. Remember, the wedding lasts a day, but your marriage is forever.

2) If you’re not attracted to him now, you may never be: Perhaps you grew up with him or you’ve known him for years, and you love him because of the history you share. But are you physically attracted to him? Women who have been married for years have told me, “I love him, but I have never really found him attractive.” And because of that, sex becomes a major problem in the marriage, with one or both spouses looking to cheat. Attraction to each other is a huge part of intimacy and passion, which is key to a lifelong relationship.

3) You need to be best friends now for when the sh*t hits the fan later:When you are in your twenties, you have yet to see job loss, mortgage payments, pregnancy scares or infertility, a sick child at 2 a.m., or having to take care of your elderly parent. You will endure stress you can’t fathom right now, and your relationship will be tested. As best friends, role play these scenarios so that you can mitigate any surprises later.


To continue reading 6 Things Young Brides Need to Know About Marriage, head on over to Huffington Post.

{Real Bride: Carrie} Addressing The Dreaded “D” Word

It’s easy to get caught up in fantasy land and think about nothing but whimsical details, cake flavors, and reception playlists while planning a wedding.  Zach and I recently got smacked back down to reality, though, when we heard the sad news that two of our old friends are getting a divorce. It was hard not to feel a bit shaken by this event, especially because these two seemed so awesome together that we even held them up as sort of “marriage role models” for ourselves.  This was also the first married couple in our circle of friends to break it off.  We’ve happily celebrated with many different friends on their wedding days, and it is SO WEIRD to think that statistically, half of those marriages won’t make it.


Honestly, I haven’t pondered the topic of divorce too much until recently, when I talked to my now-divorced friend for the first time in awhile and she basically tried to convince me not to get married.  Yeah, that was awkward.  But it did get me thinking hard.  It’s impossible, in this day and age, to take the cavalier “That’ll never happen to us,” mindset.  So why do we get married when the divorce rates are so scary?  Why do I, personally, still believe in marriage?

The answers, to be sure, are complex, emotion-riddled, and different for everyone.  I think it’s important for every couple to take some time and let the sobering divorce statistics sink in, and then really consider WHY they want to get married.  For Zach and I, from a logical standpoint, we want the many rights and benefits that accompany legal marriage (rights which someday soon will hopefully be extended to ALL couples!).  From a more philosophical standpoint, we both still believe in the commitment of marriage.  We find the concept of teaming up with one person for to be noble, desirable, and right.  Love is an action and a choice, and we have decided to continue choosing each other for the rest of our lives.

Despite our persistent believe in marriage, the current divorce stats are still terrifying.  I don’t really know what else there is to do besides support our friends in good times and bad and keep trying to be the best partners possible to each other.  I also think discussing marriage and divorce with those holding differing beliefs is really important.

So let’s discuss!  Do you still believe in marriage despite the sobering divorce rate?  Why or why not?  If you’re in a life-long relationship but have chosen not to get married, how has that decision affected your life?