Lack-luster marriage? Can’t seem to get out of the rut? You've given marriage counseling a try. You've tried setting up date nights to reconnect. You've even tried tricking yourself into ignoring your unhappiness and “deal with it.”
It is obvious that you have tried to fix the problems, but you fear that you're in the wrong marriage, however wonderful your spouse may be.
If this sounds like you and your spouse, you are in the group of “low-conflict,” amiable but unfulfilling marriages. Marriage research teams estimate that this group contributes to around 55 percent to 65 percent of divorces each year.
But what if you and your spouse don’t want to get a divorce? Is there any alternative to divorce or unhappily sticking it out?
Yes. Instead, change your marriage. Perhaps the problem isn’t you or your spouse. Maybe it's marriage. Rather than try to make yourself fit the marriage typecast, consider how to change the marriage to fit you and your spouse.
Here are some ways that 21st century marriages have paved out a path between an unhappy marriage and divorce:
Consider separate bedrooms if possible.
The creation of privacy and non-nuptial spaces might help. It is estimated that one out of every four Americans sleep in separate bedrooms/beds from their spouses. The National Association of Homebuilders predicts that by 2015, 60 percent of new homes will be designed with "dual master bedrooms."
Take a "marriage sabbatical."
A marriage sabbatical is different from a separation or a divorce. A sabbatical pauses a marriage where spouses spend time apart for months or even a year. This allows couples time to find happiness separately and independently to then work towards happiness together.
Rewrite your vows to reflect reality.
What if you rewrote your marriage vows every few years to reflect realistic, tangible phases in your marriage? Try to write up new vows, promises, and rules that are actually relevant to your fragile marriage.
Consider divorced cohabitation.
Some couples, although divorced, still maintain a household, usually to provide stability for their children, while enjoying the privileges of other divorcees.
Try "new monogamy"
Could you and your spouse consider having a conversation about the possibility of an open marriage as an alternative to divorce?
Some call this "free love, version 2.0." Sometimes, a happy marriage "opens up" because they want to do something different. In other cases, couples do it because they want to maintain a functioning but emotionally detached marriage.
These alternatives are certainly not for everyone, but it's worth trying if you want an alternative to divorce. Before you conclude that your only options are divorce or a life of unhappiness, imagine other options. Forever is a long time. Try being flexible.
Maley Investigations & Security, Inc.
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