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You wouldn't have gotten married if you hadn't had common values or goals, or if it was never really good...

When Is a Marriage Worth Saving?

When Is a Marriage Worth Saving?

10 Things to Think About When Considering Whether to Stick with a Relationship


    When is a marriage worth saving? That's the question that has been asked countless times on countless TV shows from Dr. Phil to political analysts discussing the extra-marital affairs of candidates running for office. 

Barbara Cavanaugh, a social worker in Houston, Texas, said the answer is simple: "I always go into evaluating with a couple or individual that all marriages are worth working for, because you wouldn't have gotten married if you hadn't had common values or goals or if it was never really good."

Elisa Bahler of Miami, Fla., wished she had spent more time getting to know her husband before she married him -- then perhaps she wouldn't have gotten married at all. "It's important that you become friends with someone before you ever marry them, because when you are friends, you get to know each other better before you become intimate," she says. "...I married a farmer. He would talk about farming. I was a city girl. There wasn't a relationship with that. Even though I wanted to learn more about that part of his life, even though I tried, trying was not good enough. I didn't feel like we had anything in common....," she says.

With almost half of American marriages ending in divorce, Bill Wear, Jr. -- a lawyer, minister, therapist and divorce mediator in Springfield, Mo. -- isn't surprised. "...People in our culture are emotionally, spiritually and philosophically immature. I've been practicing divorce litigation since 1974 and almost without an exception, all those hundreds of clients I've had, there's this sense that the reason they're wanting to get divorced is due to some level of unhappiness they're experiencing, which they project to the other person."

Wear thinks happiness should come from inside yourself, not your spouse."The majority of situations take place between the same amount of competent individuals who ...believe if only they could get rid of their spouse, they could be happy again, instead of looking at the real problem, which is, why aren't they happy?" 

Cavanaugh said couples who marry younger can experience problems over time. "Both of them have grown, but in different directions, 10 years later. Those marriages very often were entered into the wrong reasons," like they intiially had lots of fun together. "..Those aren't the strongest marriages. Their values and goals are not the same anymore, but that didn't happen all at once. It happened by ignoring the small problems for many years."

Bahler said her marriage wasn't helped by the fact that she and her husband came from different backgrounds - socially, economically and in values as well. "When I left home...I was very materialistic and very spoiled." In the rural Midwest, she and her husband sometimes didn't have enough money. " If you have money, you don't really know how to spend it until you don't have any money. Then, you learn how to spend every last dollar. It made sense to me later on," she said.

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