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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Trouble in the Land of Eternal Bliss

With the holiday season behind us, children in nearly year round activities and bad economic news the leading story every evening on TV, marriages today are under a great deal of stress. Compounding the problem are our expectations from marriage and our attitudes toward marriage. The availability of information can be both a challenge and an opportunity for marriages.
On the one hand, media messages remove the stigma associated with divorce and provide an overall attitude that if a person is unhappy in a relationship you end the relationship and find another; much the way one might replace a worn out toaster. On the other hand, the media provides more marital help than at any other time in our nation’s history. Advice improving our communication skills, information for abused and battered women, parenting tools, and of course the near constant attempts to improve our sex lives, just to name a few.
Because as of 2004, Idaho tied Alabama for the sixth highest divorce rate in the country; over the next three weeks, I will try to provide help for couples starting with recognizing when your relationship is in trouble, followed by resources to get that help, and then as a last resort how to plan for and carry out an amiable, healthy-as-possible, divorce. Before we start, let me say the most obvious sign your marriage is in trouble is if you are suffering emotional or physical abuse. In this case, get help immediately. The Women’s Center is available for help 24 hours a day at 208-664-9303; but if you don’t want to call them then talk to your Pastor, a friend, or your family. The bottom line if you are in an abusive relationship: get help and get out.
Other reasons to consider getting counseling help are:
If either of you has been unfaithful, your level of intimacy is low, or you are suspicious of your spouse.
If you don’t respect each other, teasing has become hurtful, you don’t fight fair, you bicker and snipe at each other constantly or you don’t have fun together any more.
If you can’t or don’t talk to each other about your problems, you are happier if your spouse is away, you find yourself withdrawing from each other, or you can’t seem to agree on goals and priorities.
An early indicator of abuse, before actual abuse starts is if a partner begins to isolate you from family and friends. This should prompt a call for help from one of the folks listed earlier.
Early recognition and treatment of a problem is always the easiest, cheapest and least painful way to solve a problem. This has been true since Ben Franklin admonished us, “A stitch in time saves nine,” to the modern observation, “Bad news doesn’t get better with age”.
Prior planning, commitment, hard work and constant communication are the best way I know of to keep a marriage healthy, but when these tools begin to breakdown, checking your pride at the door and getting some help to put your marriage back on firm footing is called for. You may have to communicate and compromise, change your behaviors, and engage in hard work but you just might save yourself the financial and emotional costs associated with divorce.

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