Should parental divorce be made more difficult?

America has the highest divorce rate in the industrialized world, and a lot of people have been trying to figure out what to do about that. One idea of how to save a marriage is the Parental Divorce Reform Act, a new proposal drafted by a group of psychologists, lawyers, social workers, and other health professionals, intended to reduce the number of unnecessary divorces among couples with minor children. The act is based on a bevy of findings about the negative repercussions of divorce, most taken from the 8-decade Longevity study. For example:

• Parental divorce has negative impact on children’s longevity, standard of living, and physical and mental health

• Divorce has a negative impact on the divorcing parents’ mental and physical health

• One third of divorcing couples stated that they would be open to reconciliation and couple’s counseling if it were easily available

The act proposes that couples with children take a mandatory marriage education course and then wait an 8-month “reconciliation period” before going through with the divorce. The requirements would be waived in any case where domestic abuse or illegal activities were involved. You can read more about the details of the proposal here.

 

Obviously this is just one suggestion of how to save a marriage and has a long way to go before being enacted into law. But it sparks some interesting discussion. Henry Gornbein, a family law specialist, wrote an editorial on the law and its provisions for the Huffington Post. Gornbein supports the law and at the same time brings up some concerns. As mentioned above, the 8-month waiting period is waved in cases of domestic abuse. But how does one define domestic abuse? Power dynamics between couples is often uneven and each relationship has it’s own nuances. For example, he writes,

(3) What about situations where there has been a history of threats and coercion, but without actual physical violence?

(4) What about a situation where one spouse is using intimidation towards the other?

(5) What about the situation where there is emotional abuse, but no physical abuse?

(6) What if one spouse is using the children to relay messages or putting the children in a very uncomfortable position, but there is no physical abuse?

(7) What if one spouse is using economic abuse towards the other by failing to disclose assets, or keeping control of the finances?

 

These are all import aspects of abuse that often go ignored by those inside and outside such situations. This is certainly an issue that lawmakers and advisors will be thinking about if the proposal goes further.

Gornbein’s second concern is the cost of the mandatory divorce reconciliation program. This will supposedly be self-funding through increases in the cost of marriage licenses. However, as one commenter on the post pointed out, professional counseling services are often very expensive and this fund would soon run out. Well now…Power of Two would be an excellent solution to this problem! The Power of Two program is affordable, easily accessible (3 out of 4 Americans have internet access as of 2005), and provides a unique balance of personalized coaching and go-at-your-own-pace control.

As married couples, what do you think should be done about the divorce rates in the USA? Would you be open to mandatory marriage counseling before divorce?

 

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Is cheating the solution to marriage problems? Not so fast!

 

Are you a Tom Sawyer Husband? How about a Workhorse Wife considering an Oreo Marriage? These are just a few of the types of couples outlined in Pamela Haag’s new book, Marriage Confidential: The Post-Romantic Age of Workhorse Wives, Royal Children, Undersexed Spouses and Rebel Couples Who Are Rewriting The Rules. Many of Haag’s categories are different ways of describing “so-so marriage,” where security, familiarity, and shared responsibilities are what keep couples together rather than love. “It’s these low-conflict, amiable, but sort of listless marriages that actually contribute the lion’s share to the divorce rate. It’s not the couples who are throwing dishes and screaming,” she said in the DailyMail.
Haag also wrote a guest article for CNN.com. In it she focuses on the “non-traditional” solutions couples may try to make their marriage work. These include: separate bedrooms; a “marriage sabbatical”; non-monogamy; and/or tolerating infidelity.

Well now! These two articles sure got us all stirred up.

“Pamela Haag has it oh-so-right. . . and oh-so-wrong.” Dr. Abigail Hirsch says.

“We love her descriptions of the ways marriages slip into semi-happiness.  Her categories are very true. And, her solution — to open things up to letting outsiders into your intimate life and maybe even the bedroom — is a lousy solution to spicing up marriage.

Can I be harsh?  Here it is.

 

How would you feel about a bike repair shop that told you, “oh, front tire flat?  We’ll just take it off and give it to someone else.  Your bike will work fine with one tire!”  Bad advice.

 

Same with marriage problems — if your marriage has some broken parts, like lackluster passion, missing romance, zero loving connection — the solution is (almost always) not to remove the possibility for deep, rewarding intimate connection — the solution is to FIX THE BROKEN PIECE.  If your love life is lacking, learn the skills to turn the spark back on.  If warmth and connection are a thing from the distant past, invest in learning how to make them a part of the future from today forwards.

 

Be proactive about bringing sex, passion, love, intimacy, and friendship into your day-to-day with your spouse if you want your marriage to sizzle. If you’d rather your marriage fizzle, then take your metaphorical tire elsewhere.”

In conclusion, never settle for solutions that make you feel less than satisfied. A joyous, loving, definitely not “so-so” marriage is a real possibility for everyone. You deserve to, and can, be happy!

 

 

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How to save a marriage when cheating comes early

cheating husband wife newlywedsThis month has been full of public infidelities. On top of Governor Schwarzenegger’s affair(s), congressman Anthony Weiner has just owned up to tweeting racy images of himself to several young women. Weiner admitted that had been carrying on “inappropriate” relationships via text and email with many women although he had never met them in person. Unfortunately, tales of marital infidelity like this may seem like a worn out story by now. What may surprise you to know is that Congressman Weiner hasn’t even been married a year. He and his wife were wed in July 2010.

 

It’s hard to imagine newlyweds having to deal with something like cheating already. They are supposed to be madly in love, right? These are the “good years”! “In some cases, newlyweds want so badly for things to be perfect that they ignore warning signs, both in themselves and each other,” couples therapist Emily Gordon explains in this Huffington Post article. Being with another person is complicated. Marriage can be daunting and bring up complex emotions. No matter where you are in your relationship, it’s important to keep the communication lines open about your expectations, desires, and needs. And there’s no wrong time for couples counseling. The skills taught through Power of Two can help committed couples get their marriage started on the right foot. And if infidelity does come, there are resources to help with surviving an affair.

 

So what do you think? What other misconceptions about newlyweds have you’ve noticed from your own experiences?

 

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