Divorce Help: Help yourself avoid divorce by prioritizing emotional health

By eHarmony Marriage Published 06/12/2007 | Marriage

Divorce help can come in many different forms.  If you are still open to putting time and energy into your marriage, then there are fundamental ways to avoid divorce.  One of the best ways to find divorce help and strengthen your marriage is to prioritize your own individual emotional health.
Our society tends to sell an overly romanticized expectation that marriage can make the two individuals involved happy. So when the possibility of divorce arises, people are often shocked and immediately look for some sort of divorce help that can offer the happiness they expected.

And while it is true that marriage can set the stage for some of lifes greatest joys, a fulfilling marriage stems from a loving, healthy relationship with yourself first and your partner second. Marriage cannot cure individual emotional problems. 

If it is an absolute necessity for a successful marriage, how is emotional health defined? That's the question that has the greatest possibility of helping you avoid divorce. 

Clinical experience and research suggest true emotional health starts with a solid self-conception, in other words how you see yourself and feel about yourself. A primary psychological motivation for every human being is the powerful desire to feel good about oneself. From a very early stage in our development, we learn strategies for gaining these good feelings. Unfortunately, many of these learned strategies dont work well within a marriage where your actions and reactions so intimately affect another person. 

Here are some unhealthy strategies that won't offer much divorce help:

Ownership:  For example, a wife might feel she owns her husband and thus her husband becomes merely a reflection of her. This wife will feel good or bad about herself based on how her partner looks, acts, and performs. This leads her to evaluate his every move and dissect every misstep.  That, in turn, results in disappointment and resentment, which become the foundation of the union. When that's the case, divorce help is very much needed.

Competition:  A person who uses a competitive strategy always needs to win and be right to feel good.   This person needs to be stronger, smarter, more successful than their partner. This self conception is very dangerous to any relationship, but particularly to a marriage. Any individual success can be a threat to the stability of the marriage and make it difficult to avoid divorce. 

Neediness:  This way of relating can make a partner feel importantat first. But prolonged exposure to this behavior can get tiresome and lead someone to at least consider divorce.  The fundamental imbalance this strategy creates in a relationship ultimately breeds significant resentment. 

So what help is there in avoiding divorce?

A positive sense of self that allows you to confront all the facets of both your internal and external life is the greatest gift you can give your partner. Developing a healthy self concept involves delving deep to discover and ultimately be the person you genuinely are. When we do this there is no need to rely on feelings of ownership, competitiveness or neediness. It means accepting our tremendous innate worth and embracing our uniqueness.   No marriage can thrive for very long if one or both partners are not genuine, if they keep their true selves hidden. When they do that, divorce help will be needed.

Individuals cant find happiness just by being married. Unfortunately, many people who remain unhappy after they get married often assume its the marriage that isnt good enough or that their spouse isn't the right one.   For a marriage to last and triumph, both partners need to be serious about addressing their own emotional stability and actively working on securing a healthy sense of self to be the best spouse they can be. 

eHarmony Marriage is a new, online alternative to marriage counseling. It's a private, personalized program that is designed to help you enjoy a stronger, happier and healthier relationship. We use your answers to our marriage questionnaire to focus on your areas of greatest need. When you visit eHarmony Marriage and take our questionnaire you'll receive a FREE Marriage Action Plan to show exactly how we can help you. http://marriage.eharmony.com