May 14, 2008

The D Word

Let's throw an idea out there that is probably one of the simplest things you can do to really strengthen your marriage.

In his last post, A Husband made brief mention of something that I want to address on its own. It's a matter of steering clear of one word, making up your mind never to bring it up when referring to your relationship with your wife: Divorce.

Make up your mind that in your interactions with your wife, you absolutely will not bring up the possibility of your marriage ending in divorce. Not during arguments, not in passing comments, not even while joking (even if she is laughing along).

I don't say this because of anything that has to do with the word itself; it's just the whole concept and possibility it represents. You may not even realize it, but when you introduce and acknowledge the possibility of divorce into your marriage relationship, it isn't easily forgotten and doesn't easily vanish, especially when the going gets tough.

The lifelong commitment you made when you married her was way too awesome, courageous, and manly a thing to slowly chip away at through careless and unnecessary comments about divorce.


  1. This is very good advice. Particularly when you have come close to the brink of divorce, it just isn't very funny to joke about. And you simply aren't going to try as hard to make a relationship work if you think you have a way out.

  2. We were told this in some pre-marriage counseling and it's probably the best piece of marital advice i've ever gotten. I've been married 15 years and there have definitely been moments when I hated the marriage I was in, but because divorce was not something we ever talked about or dwelt on in our thought lives, it was never considered a solution to any problem. If I hated my marriage at any given time I could look at a lot of possible solutions to ease my pain, but since we put divorce off the table before we said I do, it was not a tool at my disposal.
    Our brains are wired so that the more we think/ponder/talk about something the more neural connections we make around that thought, and the easier it becomes for it to come to mind.
    ie. your thinking about buying a new Ford Mustang and all of a sudden you see them everywhere. Your brain has trained itself to spot Mustangs because you have concentrated on them.
    When we talk/joke/imagine divorce we are putting it in our list of possible solutions to any given marital problem. When things get bad enough we'll grab any tool at our disposal to ease the pain.

  3. P.S. I'm now thrilled to be married to my incredible wife, but we got married at twenty and had a lot of baggage to deal with so there were a couple very hard years.

  4. Therese and Brent, thanks for sharing from your marriages. You both hit on the fact that psychologically, when you keep divorce in the mix, it's nearly impossible not to think of it as an option when you are discouraged. It's not that we're trying to play tricks on ourselves or psych ourselves out, it's just that we need to understand the power of our words and the influence it has on our thinking.

  5. Great advice. For many (who are children of divorce) this is a low blow that hurts deeply.. It also plants the seed. An off-handed comment you didn't really mean might be sprouting a plan b in the back of her mind.

    Ashley S.

  6. My sister and her husband often talk nonchalantly about divorce, saying things like, "Well if we end up splitting up, I know he'll still be a good father to our son."

    If?!! That's admitting defeat. I just can't even comprehend talking like that.

    Good article. Good thoughts.