by Mort Fertel
It’s well known that 50% of FIRST marriages end in divorce. Do you know what percent of SECOND marriages end in divorce? It should be LESS than 50%, right? After all, who would make those same painful mistakes again? People marrying a second time have the “benefit” of knowing what kind of person to pick this time, right?
The divorce rate for SECOND marriages is 70%! And THIRD marriages; closer to 80%! “Mort, you mean my chances get worse not better?” That’s right. Because the key to succeeding in marriage is NOT finding the right person; it’s YOU becoming the right person. We’ll get back to that point in a moment.
Did you know that women who finally get out of abusive relationships usually fall in love with another abusive man? What bad luck, right? It’s not luck. Did you know that men whose first wives cheated on them usually get cheated on by their second wife too? How could that be? You’d think that after suffering the torment of infidelity a man would only marry a woman with impeccable morals and unwavering commitment. You’d think…but it doesn’t work that way.
Listen to this story. It’ll pull all the pieces together for you.
A man once came to a town and asked the local sage, “I’m thinking about moving here. What kinds of people live here?”
The sage asked the man, “What kinds of people live in the town you came from?” “Where I’m from the people are liars, cheaters, and mean spirited,” the man responded.
“The people are the same here,” said the sage.
Then another man came to town and asked the sage the same question, “I’m thinking about moving here. What kinds of people live here?”
The sage asked the man, “What kinds of people live in the town you came from?”
“Where I’m from the people are wonderful, kind, and courteous,” the man responded.
“The people are the same here,” said the sage.
You see, people are not as you see them; people are as YOU are. What do you get when you smile at someone? You get a smile back. And if you stare at someone? You get a stare back. What you get is what you are.
We’re NOT an objective observer of the people in our life; we’re a subjective influence. In other words, our presence changes what we observe.
Let me give you a simple example. Let’s say you wanted to measure the temperature in a small room. So you bring a thermometer into the room and wait for a reading. But since your body temperature is 98.6 degrees, the fact that you’re in the room changes the reading you get. As long as you’re there, things are different.
It works the same in your marriage. Your relationship is not simply a function of who you pick; it’s also a function of who you are. Who you are and who your spouse is mixes to form the dynamics of your relationship. I know you want your spouse to change. And YES your marriage would be better if they did. But YOU changing can change things just as well.
Now, please listen carefully and please don’t misunderstand my point. I’m NOT saying that everything is your fault. It’s no ones fault; but it’s everyone’s RESPONSIBILITY. In other words, BOTH you and your spouse contribute to the dynamics in your relationship, whatever they are, and BOTH you and your spouse can single-handedly change them.
No matter what your spouse did to cause your marriage to deteriorate, they’re responsible. And they should change. But you played a role too. I know that’s hard to hear. It’s a bitter pill to swallow. But once you swallow it, you’re no longer a helpless victim; you become empowered to change circumstances that seemed out of your control.
It’s easy to confess your spouse’s sins. And you’re probably correct about what your spouse needs to change. But it does no good to be right. And it’s a complete waste of time and energy to focus on your spouse’s problems. There’s nothing you can do about it. Your spouse will change only when they’re ready to change. The only relevant question for you is: What’s YOUR fixing?
You had a role in the deterioration of your marriage. I’ve never seen a marital situation caused by one spouse. There’s always dual responsibility. What can YOU do to improve the situation? Reflect on your past relationships. Do you see a pattern? Look at your parent’s marriage. Are you recreating the model you saw when you were a child? Have you explored with a professional the childhood roots of your relationship habits and how they contributed to your marital circumstances?
Even if your spouse had an affair, you’re partly responsible. That doesn’t mean that it’s your fault and it doesn’t excuse your spouse’s inappropriate behavior, but the question still remains: What was your spouse seeking outside your marriage that was not available within it?
Don’t just sit there sulking in the misery of your situation while you wait for your spouse to change or for God to perform a miracle. If you want your situation to change, then change it! Do YOUR part. Because if YOU change, then everything around you changes too.
Now there is one more important point. You might be thinking, “Mort, I have changed. But my situation has not.” Change itself is not good enough. You’ve got to make the right changes. Like a scientist, you have to know EXACTLY what changes to make to get the outcome you’re looking for.
From Sarah – I’ve talked with Mort by phone, his personal story is both heartbreaking and triumphant, and the way he healed his own marriage helps everyone who’s coached by him – I’ve referred women to him who were able to turn their situations around – even after their husband’s had LEFT the home…you can get Mort’s free newsletters here->