A crisis looming in your own marriage will impact more than just you and your immediate family. Divorce will affect your children, relatives, friends, and even your co-workers at the office. Then the negatives will spread ripple-like throughout your community, expanding out to the world. Everyone is connected to everyone else. Divorce is truly a WORLD marriage crisis, undermining, if not totally gutting, communities all across the globe.
The personal impacts of divorce are tragic
When you fail at the most important thing you ever decided to do:
- You will be less secure about your future decisions
- You will be more guarded with, and towards, others
- You will be less willing to trust people
- You will be reluctant to open your heart to anyone in the future
- You will be skeptical about finding true happiness in your life… settling for mundane
When you fail at making your marriage a success:
- You will view marriage as a risky proposition; because you never found marriages’ true benefits.
- You will fear betrayal
- You will find ‘giving up’ an easier option when faced with daily challenges
- You will also be skeptical about others being happily married
Overall, you will be a less trusting, more guarded person, further from realizing unconditional love than had you remained in your marriage, changed yourself, and healed your connection.
I’m sure you know the divorce rate for 2nd and 3rd marriages are 67% and 80% respectively.
And, honestly, wouldn’t you agree the above cause-and-effect outcomes of a failed marriage are almost certainly a big part of why the divorce rate is much higher for 2nd and 3rd marriages?
The impact on your kids.
It doesn’t get more personal than your kids!
Even though the trend, especially among court appointed experts is to rationalize that children will adjust and “will do fine” (I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that phrase).
Statistics tell the truth.
Thinking children do fine defies common sense, logic and empirical statistics. All of which clearly tell us what happens to our most vulnerable; and its fairly horrendous. The statistics and studies are incontrovertible no matter what the cover-up artists tell us.
The impacts of divorce on children are all the more profound because children are so vulnerable. The harsh affects cannot be overstated.
A list of all the statistical outcomes on children can easily bring tears to your eyes!
When I conceived of The Marriage Foundation in 2008 as a way of helping many couples save their marriages from divorce, it was in a large part because of the statistics my son found when he researched what happens to kids from divorced families.
One statistic that really got to me was that the suicide rate of adolescents from broken homes is over 60%.
In fact, the studies at the time showed that over 80% of suicide attempts, not necessarily deaths, were people who came from broken homes.
The actual number itself is over 800,000 suicide attempts per year. This mostly unknown impact of divorce on children is troubling.
Consider what kids go through during the lead up to divorce, just for starters.
The pressures are huge, especially when you consider what they go through just being children, anyway. There are some who would like to rationalize this reality away, but I try my best to keep the real picture in mind.
It motivates me.
Children in destabilized homes are not only meagerly parented, but during the divorce process from contemplation, to final papers (usually years), the kids live through various shades of hell; as teachers will tell you, just from what they see in their classrooms.
Children are like little family circuit breakers, overloaded by family tensions.
Isn’t childhood meant to be protected?
Aren’t we supposed to be nurtured by, and learn from, parents who are in love with each other?
The childrens’ two bodyguards become mortal enemies!
Imagine if you went to a hostile land with two bodyguards, and they turned on each other; this is what kids are faced with when their parents forget why they got married, and their responsibilities as parents.
I think author Judith Wallerstein sums up one aspect quite well.
She says, “They (kids from broken homes) have a lot of trouble in believing that they can love somebody, or that somebody is going to love them, and that it’s going to be a relationship that’s going to last.” You have to admit that makes total sense.
Unfortunately though, as if what she writes about were not enough to take in, we have all the hard evidence one needs to know, without doubt, that that is only one of the problems kids face when their parents’ divorce.
The children of divorce go through hell because they are utterly helpless.
They are 100% dependent on us for our protection. Without us, they would literally die; and everyone gets this.
It is easier to appreciate the dependence for physical survival, because it is physical.
But that’s not all there is; not by a long shot.
There are deeper unseen things that profoundly impact children.
There are the deep needs we humans have for a sense of purpose, a sense of worth, and our need for loving touch. And perhaps most importantly, what about our core need for unconditional love?
These are developed in the incubator of an intact loving family. When spousal relationships suffer, the kids are (by definition) not in a loving and nurturing environment.
The role of loving parents is critical for all sorts of things we cannot see, or, frankly, fully recognize or understand. We human beings are still learning so much about ourselves. So, because our societies are not there yet, good role modeling is not going to be seen on TV, or in the movies. Writers can, after all, only draw from what they know vicariously, or experience themselves.
We all can see that ideal families are few.
You can see the problems of the high divorce rate for yourself.
It does not take a genius, for instance, to recognize children need two loving and attentive parents who love each other as much as they love their children, and the results of the ideal not being the norm.
Children in homes where parents are shaky in their relationship do not only suffer the obvious traumas caused by lack of “material” supervision during the time leading up to divorce, while their parents are growing distant and fighting. Nor do they suffer only during the divorce process itself, when their parents are caught in the divorce machine, and are staking claims, often using the kids as bargaining chips and weapons, or are at the very least putting them in the middle of a grab-fest. Virtually every child from a broken home also goes through it later on, too, after the dust settles, including during the transitions their parents go through with dating, and choosing new partners.
All this trauma is happening to them during their formative years.
Then there is more to come.
The shifts in attention that goes with parents’ dating and new relationships turn the kids into helpless and insecure bystanders.
What if my mom gets remarried?
What will happen to my dad, or mom?
Most importantly though, ‘what will happen to me?’
Your children become insecure… in spite of the “you are the most important” rhetoric. Kids feel and react to what is actually going on.
But it doesn’t end there.
They all, every single child who lives through their parent’s divorce, carries the burdens of unseen residual psychological problems which extends into their teen and adult lives. How could it not?!
No matter how much effort you put into softening the blow to your kids, or covering up the truth, it still changes their lives forever. There are many supporting studies that confirm this.
But do you really need a “study” to prove that the impacts are for life, or that it crushes kids?
Children from divorced homes live a stark contrast with what is intended for childhood.
All of us agree children should be raised in a loving environment by both of their two parents, harmoniously joined together, intimately concerned and ensuring with their children’s well being.
Good, and even mediocre parents patiently plan and guide their children’s steps, within the safety of a securely constructed loving environment. There can be no doubt that the very purpose of a family is to prepare their children for adulthood.
What about step-parents?
Statistics imply that half the people reading this are divorced.
Many are now remarried, with step-children.
So, understand that this is not meant to condemn anyone, but rather to incentivize efforts to improve the future.
Some may be sensitive about this truthful, but harsh, revelation, because of what has been, or is, taking place in their own life, it would be unfair to ignore tough realities. We need to be mindful of the compelling reasons to fix the marriage and divorce crisis, both personally and socially. We need the prod of pain, ours and others, to keep moving forward. We need to learn from our mistakes (not feel guilt because of them).
Connection Between Children and Step-parents
Step-parents who marry into a family may try their best with all sincerity to be good fill-ins.
But they cannot replace a child’s biological parents.
It is not out of selfishness, or a lack of desire. But even the most loving surrogate parents, as are those who inherit kids through remarriage, simply do not have the same investment in the kids as that which comes from the biological connection.
This Conclusion Is Based In Science
Those in family professions have observed it more often than not, possibly without truly understanding the science behind what they see.
Additionally, the less than optimal connection is not just for the adult to the child.
It is usually a 2-way street.
Kids, especially the ones who know who their biological parents are, will remain ever skeptical of the new man or woman in their life.
This is not 100%, of course, but the exceptions are few.
I know of one man who raised “his” son from the age of three. But the mom hated her new ex-husband. So when they divorced she turned her biological child against his fill-in father. He has not seen his son for 20 years, though the son is still a friendly brother with his half brothers.
Biology Is Stronger Than Will Power
It is simple psycho-physiological science.
It has nothing to do with intentions, desire or willingness.
Biological parents are hardwired driven to protect and care for their offspring.
That’s the biology and everyone knows this. Only in theory can that powerful innate drive to protect and nurture a child be matched with even the best intentions of a step parent.
Some people ignore this irrefutable scientific fact.
Ignoring it is of course commendable, but only after the fact.
I share this because if you are contemplating divorce you need to plug this reality into your equation. Your kids will suffer from your divorce; period. A car crash will injure the occupants of the car. How much damage is the only thing nobody can tell you.
This is the same for divorce.
Remarried parents, in many cases, and to one degree or another, unrealistically expect their ‘new’ children to choose them over the step-parent, over the “other” outsider parent. Or they expect their biological child to accept a new “parent” in their real parent’s stead. It’s an unscientific expectation or hope, at best. At worst, and usually so, it creates lifelong subconscious confusion and pain. It is disruptive, no matter what.
Are there exceptions?
In rare cases, when the biological father, or occasionally the mother, are incredibly self-centered, as happens with drugs, alcohol, or cult thinking, a new parent is a good deal better than the biological parent they fill in for. Those new parents are nothing short of heroic. but even then there are problems.
Yes, I know the theoretical psychologists and divorce courts live by an imagined ideal of substituting parents based on various hypothesis.
But best efforts are always weighted due to subjective prejudice, even when well-intentioned.
Court imposed orders (very few parents are happy with child sharing plans) are unscientifically derived and clearly not realistic; as is proven by the pain and frustration by all involved.
We cannot just ignore the statistics because they do not provide hope; and they don’t.
The best course for a divorced parent is to choose to remain single until the child is an adult; but few would make this sacrifice.
I found one published group to be pretty close to expressing the realities about step children. Unfortunately, even while they advance the dire statistics open-mindedly, they still try to paint a rosier than real picture; by how they word things.
I know it is not easy for experts to accept the true tragedy.
After all, most of them are themselves divorced, or their close friends and associates are (psychologists and lawyers have a somewhat higher than average divorce rate), and so cause their own kids to suffer, too.
Nobody wants to admit their personal choices will cause their own children to suffer.
So, like most people, they pretend with “our case will be different” thinking (sometimes we are cleverest in our ignorance). I’m not aware of statistics that distinguish psychologists kids’ of divorce from others. But I know enough to know they too are not beyond human frailties.
The following statistics are well known by professionals, but not by the general public, or those in troubled marriages. Teaching these in schools should be a higher priority than sex education.
Statistics: Kids from divorce are statistically less likely to succeed,
- More likely to have sex at an earlier age
- More likely to use drugs
- More likely to become alcoholics
- More likely to require therapy
- More likely to have fewer true friends
- More likely to experience poverty, and so on.
Not by small percentages; but by large ones.
It is an understandable mess, and one we are already experiencing. Isn’t it?
I don’t include the actual statistical numbers, which are quite high, because people tend to think those are “other people”, not us. I prefer you examine things from a logical perspective, applying common sense as you think about cause and effect impacting your children. The effort to improve marriage is well worth it.
The statistics include every demographic: Race, culture, religion, wealth, social status, and other differences don’t matter.
To add to the confusion and the general understating of the problems of divorce, well-intentioned experts often assure troubled couples that the kids will “adjust”.
Sure they will, if you want to call it that.
People can, and do, adjust to anything. But if divorce is preventable, as are well over 90% of them, why not heal your marriage instead of inflicting all the predictable and unpredictable pain and suffering on yourselves and your children?
When done correctly, the effort required to heal a marriage is about like raising your pinky, when compared to the suffering you will all endure if you choose divorce.
Based on my experience it would be wrong for me to not share that telling your spouse “they better not think about divorce” for whatever reasons, is wrong. And doing that will backfire, every time. The right thing is for you to do everything you individually can do to heal your marriage.
I am certain if we could see our children’s futures none of us would consider divorce; ever! Each and every marriage is important all of us. No man, or marriage is an island.
How divorce harms society?
Imagine a lake with boats on it.
The lake, metaphorically, is our society. And each of the boats contains a family, or an individual. When one of the boats begins to rock as a result of family upset or tragedy, it causes ripples in all directions that affect the other boats.
First, the families nearest the rocking boat then, as the domino effect begins, others farther out. Everyone is affected.
The boats start rocking.
When any family is disrupted by disharmony, especially by divorce, the ripples on the lake become more and more chaotic as the disruptions continue, especially causing all the more vulnerable families to be less steady.
Children from broken homes, who had to grow up without the security of an intact loving home, will be more defensive adults than if they were raised in intact homes.
Adults who grew up in broken homes tend to be more ruthless, less humane, less likely to enjoy the success of others (less empathy), and so forth. They inevitably have a jaded attitude towards marriage itself, affecting their future choices for a lifetime partner.
And the boats keep rocking.
There are also many less conspicuous costs to society. Some are documented in studies, and many more can be logically deduced.
Workers are distracted, so less productive. Relationships are more shallow due to mistrust, so businesses run by adults from broken homes are more selfishly driven. They do not have a sense of community, treating employees as potential enemies.
And the boats keep rocking.
Escapes into unhealthy activities are used as distractions. So there is more alcoholism, prostitution and drug abuse; all costly to society.
And the boats keep rocking.
There are additional taxes we have to pay for prisons (inmates from broken homes represent over 90% of the prison population), drug rehab, thefts, and so forth. People from broken homes will be more greedy, less compassionate, less trustworthy, more secretive, and less able to build community.
And the boats keep rocking.
Just as troubling is the acceptance of divorce we have all had to open ourselves up to because of how many divorces there are that directly and personally affect our own lives. This compulsory acceptance, among the other negatives of divorce, then causes most families to give up long before they should; if they should give up at all!
And the boats keep rocking.
All marriage failures, even the ones that don’t end in divorce, unties another knot in the fabric of our world society.
We are losing our unified “bigger” family to social chaos because individual family units are losing importance. Governments are slowly replacing our mothers and fathers as our backstops, heritage and moral compass. It is not how things should be. We need to do something.
Societies function better when the unit of measure is the family, and not the individual.
Successful Marriages and Societal Success?
Marriage Failures and Societal Failure?
The failure rate of marriages makes no sense! My educated belief is there should be less than a 5% failure rate. Marriage is meant to be easy, happy, and secure.
This marriage crisis will not “work itself out”. More individuals are putting off marriage, thus short-changing themselves by choosing uncommitted co-habitation over lifetime marriage. Almost all, including most experts recognize we have a cycle of broken homes causing children from broken homes to create more broken homes.
We need to break the cycle.
My research, marriage experience, and the success of thousands of our clients, confirm that when an individual, or a couple, understand marriage they will succeed; failure is, in fact, nearly an impossibility.
My greatest discovery is that in order to succeed in marriage, it has to be observed as a scientific construct, with a clear universally accepted purpose. Then, and only then, will individual behaviors conform to that loftiest of all goals; achieving unconditional love.
We propose a simple solution, education and “validation” at all levels
Those familiar with my history know I was a divorce mediator who had an epiphany one day while working with a young couple who had two small children. They agreed to be my experiment for finding a solution to their marriage, and in the process, all marriages.
I began with a simple, but far reaching question.
Why do individuals wish to be married? Not, mind you, why did one person select another, but why get married at all?
Getting married without a purpose is like getting on a boat without a destination.
We are not the only organization that exists with the noble purpose of saving marriages. There are others who do their best, too. What is missing is a uniform and unbiased means of validating the usefulness of various methodologies.
Instead of everyone coming together to truly assess what works and doesn’t, professionals stake out their respective territories. Various professionals blame others’ shortcomings for the problems; or they blame the “times we live in”.
Unfortunately, there is no way to know with certainty who has practical definite remedies.
Theoretical psychologists (Western psychology is theoretical) have tried to legally bar efforts from what they consider unorthodox methods. If they had empirically verifiable success, that would be fair to society. But their collective results are hidden, and from what is known; not good at all.
Religious leaders blame society for straying morally. They are obviously correct; but neither blame nor correct observation are remedies. Church based efforts, like premarital training imposed by the Catholic church are statistically useless.
Online course solutions, like ours have become the best alternative because the world of commerce insists upon positive results. The downside is that it almost takes an expert to analyze what will be right for an individual or couple.
Expect marriage to be the greatest part of your life
People not having effective pre-marriage training generally have less than ideal marriages. So most couples set their sights too low for what a marriage should be.
They have not found the answers.
Similarly, I have spoken with many experts who would be thrilled with a mere 10% reduction in divorce. They gave up on, or never knew about, the ideals of marriage being relatively easy to attain. But not me. I am not giving up.
On an individual level, the currently held “reasons” people give for their divorce are only best guess substitutes for what really took down their marriage.
The subconsciously hidden reality is couples don’t understand marriage, or what actually happened to theirs. Of course, people do not realize they don’t know how to be married, but that is effectively what is happening. The role models for marriage are inconsistent with the realities of what can or should be expected.
Unhappiness is inevitable when neither spouse thinks in ways consistent with the natural laws of marital happiness.
How is it possible to be successful at something, anything, that is inherently complex, without proper preparation and study?
One example of broad based misconceptions is that most couples believe fighting is “normal”.
Individuals who struggle within their marriage by “trying” to be a good husband or wife, but never learn about marriage, may still not have the learned aptitude or skills that creates a successful marriage.
Proper training is essential.
Marriages, it can be said, fail for one primary reason.
People don’t know how marriage works. They don’t know what the purposes and esoteric benefits are, or how to view their marriage and family in a truly functional way.
Truly valid reasons for a marital failure, though varied, are few in number.
Obviously, in some cases, like if you’ve married a homicidal maniac, you really can’t make your marriage work. Even if you were the most marriage-knowledgeable person in the world, get as far away from a homicidal maniac as possible! Pedophilia, or discovering previously unknown homosexuality are other examples of valid reasons for divorce.
A particular education of specialized skills is absolutely required for the unique venue of marriage
Marriage is a unique venue. Specialized skills and thinking have to be learned to achieve the extraordinary joy sought by couples. Very few people are “naturals” for marriage.
Who understands marriage, succeeds at it. Those who learned about marriage the way our foundation presents it, are ourselves happy experts.
We know what it takes to deliberately have a successful marriage. For us there are no esoteric complex rationales. Only simple, deliberate, conscious understandings of ourselves, our spouses, and the institution of marriage, itself.
Our marriages are not just good.
They are great, and everyone who has a great marriage is a supporting pillar in our society.
We live within ideal marriages ourselves. This isn’t mere speculation or experimentation. Our marriages are intentional and definite. They are joy filled. It’s not because of who we married, or who we are, and not because we are “compatible” (everyone is compatible – incompatibility is just another excuse people use to get out of an unhappy marriage).
We are not perfect, but our marriages are.
ALL marriages should be unconditional hives of joy. What better way than showing what a marriage has to offer, and how to get the ideal marriage you seek?
My first book, Lessons For A Happy Marriage was published in 2008. It was a compilation designed to take individuals and couples through the process I was so successful within live sessions. In 2009, we formed The Marriage Foundation as a nonprofit. I also compiled online marriage help courses. In 2011, I expanded the first book into Breaking The Cycle, for use in training marriage professionals.
People get married in order to have a loving relationship with who they believe will make their dream a reality. Yes, it is selfishness that pushes us to get married. But it is its opposite, selflessness, that makes marriage bliss filled.
Now let’s take a closer look on my plan to stop divorce and end the marriage crisis
1. Help individual marriages, resolving their problems, with books and courses
Believing marriage problems are a necessary evil of marriage is a grave mistake. Those who do undermine marital success by establishing subconscious, negative expectations.
When marriage is properly understood, a couple can work within its guiding structures. There is no need for grandiose explanations of simple principles; anyone can understand marriage.
When a couple understands the definition of marriage (its intent) and the attitudes and behaviors that work with instead of against those principles, they are assured a happy marriage. Couples who suffer with marriage problems must be educated to the simplicity and ease with which they can have a joyous marriage.
We have made good inroads with our efforts by publishing two best selling marriage books and our highly rated marriage courses.
2. Teach individuals how to date in ways that move towards successful marriage
The current methods for finding a life-mate are as unscientific as can be. We have a course for those who want a great methodology for finding a perfect mate, and learning about marriage at the same time. We have priced our Find Your Soulmate dating course very low, and not surprisingly, most of our clients are the children of our successful couples.
3. Create a network of specially trained mediators who offer a viable alternative to divorce
The plan is to create a divorce mediation school that will offer the best alternative to the family court system. The family court system polarizes families who suffer and it invariably aggravates the pain and sorrow associated with a breaking family. My specially trained mediators will offer their clients a viable and attractive offer to stay together by teaching the fundamental principles of marriage through coaching receptive couples toward a joyous family experience.
Even if our success rate is only 20% (and the rest go on to a divorce) we will have accomplished much. And for those who must divorce, we will help remove the obstacles of anger and disappointment that prevent future friendship and harmony. Couples who part as friends instead of enemies can quickly adapt to the traumas of divorce that lay in front of them.
4. Infuse our nation’s school system with a “how-to-live” curriculum
The current emphasis in our schools is focused on teaching children how to become part of a machine — called the economy — rather than how to become part of a living entity — called our community.
Recently one of our online counselors received this from one of our clients:
I have been SEWing everyday all day for 8 weeks now. I find myself doing it without realizing I’m doing it — not just with my husband, but with my kids, friends, family, and at work. It is life-changing and I know it will be a practice for the rest of my life. We will be having an Advisory block at our high school this year and I have 14 11th graders. I plan to teach them SEW and how to take control of their minds when emotions are trying to rule.
Excited about it!
The root cause of almost all crises is the marriage crisis of broken families. Only through intensity of purpose can we change the current course our nation is running in.
We must do everything we can as individuals and families to revitalize our world by making the family the natural unit of measure again.
The Marriage Foundation is a nonprofit in order to invite and include all like-minded individuals and families. Our funding comes from businesses, individuals, and sales.