A few days before Halloween, news about a Supreme Court decision that upheld the conviction of a man for “psychological abuse” against his wife when he had an affair during their marriage made noise in media. It was a landmark decision that instigated conversations online. For the first time, there was news about a man who committed marital infidelity, thus, was sentenced to imprisonment and required to pay moral damages.
I have been married for 21 years. My marriage is not perfect but I am grateful that my husband and I are still together. At our age, we have witnessed a lot of marriage breakdowns among our family members and friends.
Why do marriages fail? These are my key takeaways from witnessing first-hand the anxiety, frustration and eventual recovery of women and men whose marriage ended.
1. Living separate lives
There is no such thing as too much independence in marriage. Different social circles, recreation, and leisure activities cause physical and emotional disconnection.
At 35 years old, Dan and Liza were both senior managers who earned well. They lived a good lifestyle with local and international travels, gym memberships, Friday night-outs BUT not with each other. They had different sets of friends and varied hobbies. Soon, they found new partners in their circles. Their marriage was annulled in 2013.
Invest time, money and effort to be with your spouse. Schedule date nights, anniversary getaways, unplanned road trips to strengthen the relationship.
2. Inability to forgive
Constantly reliving the trauma of past experiences never gives an opportunity for the marriage to heal. For some, it is hard to forgive and forget.
Justin had an affair when he worked in Davao, far from his family in Laoag. When Janice, his wife, found out, he begged for her forgiveness, resigned from his job, and returned to Laoag. But after a year of trying to save their marriage, they still separated. Janice could not sleep at night beside Justin because her anger consumed her. There were endless debates. Their marriage was annulled in 2005.
The psychological trauma of marriage infidelity is difficult to overcome for some people. Consult a psychiatrist for medical intervention. As a couple, seek a marriage counsellor or spiritual adviser for a guided recovery.
3. Demand from in-laws
Prioritizing in-laws at the cost of risking or damaging family resources puts a lot of pressure to a couple.
Baby’s father had a heart attack. They are 5 siblings but only two of them took care of their father’s medical expenses. James, her husband, supported her at first but when the therapy lasted for more than six months, their finances suffered. James worked 7 days a week, but he would sometimes get hungry at work but could not even buy food due to lack of money. All their earnings went directly to the medical needs of Baby’s father. Stress, frustration took a tool on James. After more than a year of frequent arguments, James left his home and lived with his parents.
Discuss with spouse a limit on the amount of financial help that could be extended to in-laws.
4. Financial problems
Having different views on handling money creates emotional problems too.
Sammy’s real estate business was doing very well so his wife, Rebecca, was a stay-at -home mom. Their opposite views toward money took a toll on their marriage. Sammy is a chronic saver and has, in fact, invested in college funds for their two kids. But Rebecca is a shopaholic. Sammy has saved her five times from being sued by lenders and even funded her therapy for shopping addiction. They fought for many years until they separated in 2000 after 10 years of marriage.
Create a matrix of total income versus monthly expenses and discuss financial goals with your spouse.
5. Constant philandering
Every married couple will experience infidelity at one point in their life. For some, the crisis reawakens their love and commitment to each other. But for those who cheated their spouse several times, it is hard to rebuild the trust and respect.
When Jerry left his wife Joy for two years for another woman, Joy blamed herself for being inattentive, distant, and overly critical of Jerry. So, when Jerry returned home, Joy accepted him without any questions. But she said that should be the last incident of cheating or she will separate from Jerry. But after two years, Jerry had an affair again with a co-worker. Again, Joy accepted his apology because she wanted to keep the marriage intact. But on the third time that Joy discovered that Jerry was having an affair with their household help, she finally decided to separate from Jerry. She could not trust him anymore and a marriage without trust and respect is bound to dissolve.
Make a self-introspection. Ask yourself what you expect from the relationship, what do you think you want and what you feel you are entitled to. Commitment to a monogamous relationship is expected in a marriage. If this is not for you, do not get married.
Marriage is an active choice. For me, it is my lifetime career with emotions to nurture, standards to observe, and responsibilities to accomplish. It is a lot of work, but you are compensated with priceless rewards – love and happiness.