Terri Orbuch is a psychologist and research professor at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. She recently identified some of the top common regrets of divorced couples.
“Divorced individuals who step back and say, ‘This is what I’ve done wrong and this is what I will change,’ have something powerful to teach others,” she recently told the Wall Street Journal.
Here are five things divorced couples regret not having done more of with a few comments of my own:
1. Boost your spouse’s mood
Encouraging and affirming your spouse in very simple ways can go a very long way. One study found that when a husband reported his wife didn’t express love and affection (not necessarily sex) the couple was twice as likely to divorce.
2. Talk more about money
As we’ve discussed on numerous broadcasts, money is a magnifier of problems but it’s also a common source of significant tension. Don’t keep secrets. Establish a family budget and stick to it.
3. Get over the past
Couples who can’t forgive past hurts grow bitter and resentful. Again, talk it out. Write a letter. Talk with a friend.
4. Blame the relationship
Studies suggest that 65% of divorcees blame the ex-spouse for the demise of their marriage. When discussing relationship problems, Dr. Orbuch suggests saying “we,” not “you” or “I.” For example, you might say, “We are both so tired lately,” not “You are so crabby.”
5. Reveal more about yourself
Dr. Orbuch recommends: Every day, for 10 minutes, the couple should talk alone about something other than work, the family and children, the household, the relationship. No problems. No scheduling. No logistics.
Do you resonate with these findings? What might you add as # 6 on this list?
If you’re in the midst of a troubled marriage, I hope you would consider reaching out to us. We have a tremendous counseling department and are prepared to help. To reach Focus on the Family’s counseling service by phone, call 1-800-A-Family (232-6459) weekdays 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Mountain Time). If a counselor is not immediately available, you can leave your contact information and a counselor will call you back as soon as possible. This is available at no cost to you.