Spouse School: Finding Marriage Role Models

I was impressed with the self-confidence of so many of those raised in harmonious intact families. Despite the high incidence of divorce among their friends and schoolmates, they said that they never doubted they'd marry a good person and have a stable life with children. This was not true of the adults like Gary who were raised in troubled marriages that stayed together. They came to marriage with serious concerns that they would repeat their parents' behavior along with a firm resolve to keep that from happening. Despite their passionate hope for a good marriage, children of divorce came with a much higher expectation of failure and only a sketchy sense of how one goes about protecting the relationship.

In contrast, like the other adults who did not want to emulate their parents' marriage, Gary had a clear agenda. One of the lessons he drew from watching his parents was that he wanted to have better communication in his own marriage. "That wasn't hard," he quipped, "because my parents hardly talked except about us kids. Communication isn't talking baseball or even children. It's solving problems. I had this notion that admitting to problems meant that you'd end up in a big, screaming fight feeling misunderstood and angry for days. But I've really learned from Sara that it doesn't have to be that way, that you can discuss your differences and actually have the tension get less, not bigger. That's been a huge relief to me."

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