It seems that in the world today there is an increasing disregard for marriage — both for getting married and for staying married. Is it because it's unfashionable to be married? Or is it perhaps deeper than that? Is it our individual moral character that affects our marriage?
There are obvious times when divorce is necessary, such as situations of abuse of any kind towards the spouse or children. But oftentimes, problems within a marriage can and should be resolved as a couple instead of dissolved with divorce. "Irreconcilable differences" seems like a huge cop out when it comes to a valid reason for divorce.
So what is it that can make or break your marriage? Why is it that some couples make it through highly difficult times while others flounder at the first sign of being discontent? It may simply boil down to one major factor: moral character.
Moral character develops throughout your life — how you are raised, a strong belief system, media you choose and the people and overall environment you surround yourself with. Just like mothers want their children to choose good friends because we ultimately pick up their behaviors, the same goes for our choice in movies, music, books and the people in which we are engulfed.
For instance, someone who is raised in a strong family with high standards is going to pick up different behaviors than those who are raised in a permissive, no boundaries environment.
Basically, your foundation may have a lot to do with the likelihood that you'll stay married or not. According to an article about moral character and marriage, it states, "Many couples lack a robust moral vocabulary that can help them persevere through periods of difficulty." When the going gets tough, the morally strong are more likely to get going. "...[W]e cannot ignore morality and character; whether we like it or not, that is the way that most people understand their own lives."
What can be done to preserve marriage?
Find a marriage partner who has the same core beliefs and goals. Yes, opposites may attract, but the opposites need to be complementary characteristics, not a major battleground. If you have the same main focus, you can work together to achieve a successful marriage. Having common goals and desires in life makes a huge difference.
Decide now that you will avoid infidelity at all costs. It's OK to find someone else attractive, but if you dwell on that thought and let it grow, you are crossing the line. Try to maintain boundaries at work, church or other places where friendships can become inappropriate. Don't even allow it to become a temptation.
Because we change as individuals as we learn and experience more, it is important to continually get to know each other. Weekly, or at least monthly, date nights with your spouse are imperative. You need to spend alone time without kids or other distractions where you can talk, discuss problems and draw strength and support from each other. Going out (or staying in) together is how you got to know each other in the first place, and it's no different after you are married — though there is a lot more at stake.
Work through problems together. Don't just jump ship because a storm arises. If you need help, seek marriage counseling from a professional or a church leader. Often, it is working through those rough patches together that make your marriage stronger. Don't give up.
Even if you have been raised in an environment that did not lend to having strong moral character conducive to creating a lasting marriage, it doesn't mean you can't decide to create a strong marriage with your spouse. We all have agency and can make choices for ourselves. If it's important to you, it will work out. Likewise, even if you have strong moral character, it doesn't necessarily mean your marriage will automatically be strong. It still takes 100% from both partners. But, by working together and sharing common goals, avoiding abuse and infidelity and by continuing your courtship, you can work through any problem that may arise.
Wendy is a regular contributor for familyshare.com and does media reviews. Website: https://survivorshopeandhealing.wordpress.com/ for victims of sexual abuse. Blog: https://wendyejessen.wordpress.com Twitter: @WendyJessen