When does a couple divorce? How long is too long to wait for help?

April 2, 2009 · Print This Article

Research has shown two divorcing periods over the lifespan of marriages.  Early divorcing occurs within the first seven years of marriage ( on average of 5.2 years). Late divorce occurs  between May 16 and 20th year of marriage (on average at 16.4 years) (Gottman, 2005).  When a couple divorces during the early years of marriage, it is mostly the result of poor communication patterns – criticism, defensiveness, withdrawal, and contempt.  Later divorcing is often the result of significant indebtedness emotional bank account that positivity is drained  (humor, joy, happiness) from the marriage and a significant amount of negativity is present or feelings of  isolation and loneliness.

Secondly,  couples do not attend marriage therapy until six years after the time they realize there is serious marriage problems (Buongiorno, 1992).   A majority of time, the couple is looking for validation  and/or approval to exit the marriage.

Lastly,  an estimate suggests that  less than 1% of couples who divorced in 1990 had any marital therapy or counseling during the year of their divorce (Gottman, 2005 citing Neil Jacobson).

I share this information to raise  awareness of the epidemic problem facing marriages today. Marriages are dying off at significantly high rates  without receiving any treatment. If you  or a couple you know is struggling, don’t wait to get help. There are many competent therapists out there.  In a future blog, I will address finding a competent marriage therapist/coach.

Keep the faith!

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