With many regretting their divorce, what's the best way to stay together?
We know that one in three marriages fails, but new stats have revealed that more than half those who separate rue the decision. Nel Staveley reveals how to keep the love alive.
The wedding season is coming to an end, and so too, at some point, will nearly half of those now seemingly perfect, happy marriages. Yes, we all know the divorce statistics are undeniably depressing.
But thankfully, a new survey, commissioned for the DVD release of The Love Punch, hints at slightly better news: 54% of divorcees said they regretted ending their marriage.
Okay, it's not entirely good news – that does mean a lot of people living with the poisonous burden of regret. But, it also means that for all the inevitable trials, tribulations and unpicked-up-wet-towels of marriage, it's generally worth battling through, and (as number six on the reasons for regretting divorce list shows) the 'grass is not always greener' on the post-divorce side.
But just how do you make relationships stand the test of time?
Everyone likes to be right, but there's a time and a place to admit that, sometimes, you're wrong. And a marriage is it. Research from Baylor University, Texas, found one of the keys to a successful relationship is relinquishing some of the 'power' in the relationship to the other person, namely being willing to compromise.
'Those who play together stay together'. Those sayings which become cliches, generally become cliches for a reason. A study of 1,000 married Americans listed having three shared hobbies and interests as one of the top requirements for romantic bliss.
The survey showed that not everyone who approached divorce actually went through with it, and 94% of those believed the time apart during their break-up helped to save their relationship. Just because you're married to each other doesn't mean you have to become each other. While spending time together is clearly very important, it's just as important to ensure you spend time on your own, with your own friends, pursuing your own interests.
Don't forget the small stuff
Whatever the films might try to tell us, most of us aren't that fussed by grand, sweeping gestures of love. We like little ones instead. In fact, according to an Open University study, the everyday acts of kindness – think making a cup of tea – are more important to a lasting marriage than the acts of romantic largesse.
Never sleep on a row
A recent survey by Two Together Railcard, proved that saying 'I love you' before bed was the second most important secret to happiness in a relationship. Not convinced by a train survey giving tips on love? Perhaps you'll be more convinced by Wilfred and Ivy Turberville, the longest-married couple in Britain, who recently revealed "never going to bed on a quarrel" was why they'd remained together for 80 years.
Move to Worcester
Worcester is the most loved-up spot in the country, apparently (we're back on the slightly tenuous rail romance survey), with 100% of those questioned saying they had at least one date night a month. Why not heed their advice, and make sure you and your husband/wife have regular 'date nights'. They don't have to be fancy, they don't have to be expensive; they just have to be the two of you, taking time to reconnect and remind each other why you fell in love in the first place.
Make it work
Sara Davison, divorce coach at www.saradavison.com, has this advice for making things work, and when to give up:
- "Divorce is often stated to be the second most traumatic experience in life after the loss of a loved one. So even when your marriage seems unbearable, divorce has to be your last option."
- "I always suggest my clients take three months to do everything they can to save their marriage. If they then do separate, there are no regrets, as they know they did all they could to save it."
- "It's important to be clear on what went wrong and why, so you don't repeat mistakes in future relationships. A common trap is to see the relationship through rose-tinted glasses when it's ended, which can lead to regrets."
- "Communicate with your partner what isn't working."
Ten reasons not to split
1. Missing an ex-partner
2. Feeling like a failure
3. Still being in love with an ex-partner
4. Realising they were being unreasonable
5. Feeling lonely
6. Discovering the grass isn't always greener
7. An ex-partner finding someone new
8. Realising they are not better off on their own
9. Damaging the relationship with their children
10. Children's lives being affected