This week is very exciting for my wife and me. No, we haven't won the lottery or bought a million dollar house, but something even more exciting than those things have happened for us. While those things would be nice, they are tangible things that regardless of upkeep will eventually fade away. Money is spent, houses eventually require repair and are even subject to destruction by nature. Regardless, Jennifer and I are still winners in our own rights. The thing we won is not subject to any other destructive force except ourselves. Allow me to explain.
This Friday marks our 5 year marriage anniversary, and we are excited. Not only because it's an exciting time, but because we've survived through the tough times. British researchers recently studied the relationships of over 2,000 couples who were in marriages or long-term relationships and the results surprised them. What they found was that the traditional "7 Year Itch" that Jennifer had been warned about the days leading up to our marriage by those who were older and wiser than us had in fact been replaced by what is now termed the "3 Year Glitch". The researchers found that todays couples, who suffer from the lowered attention span, shorter tempers, and a social comfortability with divorce that was absent before are now more likely to leave one another over their minor annoyances rather than work through them.
|The Passion Killers |
(Courtesy of Men's Health)
The replacement of the "7 Year Itch" with the "3 Year Glitch" isn't necessarily a bad thing. While the reasons for the switch are not good, it doesn't automatically spell doom for a couple who is determined to work their way through the problems causing the 'glitch'. That is because the reasons the researchers found responsible for the 'troubles in paradise' were minor problems. Things such as weight gain (which was the #1 reported problem), snoring, lack of romance and antisocial working hours were responsible. However, there is commonality in every one of these reasons: They're completely fixable!
Should we seriously believe that your spouses' lapsed fashion, or their stray fingernail cuttings is a logical reason to divorce someone? First, thinking about this from a strictly secular point of view, do you realize how much time and effort is involved in a divorce? A lawyer costs thousands of dollars, and the price only goes up from there if it is a contested divorce! Then we come to the issue of time. Many states have laws that require a period of time to pass (Tennessee for example requires 3 months after filing) before a divorce can be finalized. Through all of this, you're paying. In time, money, and emotional baggage, you're paying. Isn't it cheaper, and easier to just ask them to clip their nails over the trash and move on with your comparatively hassle-free life? I understand that for the most part, this is trivializing some people's reasons for divorce, but the data speaks for itself.
But then we come to the religious aspect of the divorce problem. In Matthew 19:9, Jesus says that these reasons listed above simply are not good enough. The only reason that is allowed for a divorce is an act of fornication. Not the way they cut their fingernails, the fact that they've put on weight since you met, and no, not even the fact that he refuses to give up that ratty college sweatshirt that is holding on by a thread (though this one has been debated as valid grounds).
So how can a couple who is currently going through the dreaded "3 Year Glitch" overcome it to move on to a healthy relationship? The answer is surprisingly simple.
Compliments and physical touch.
That's right, compliment each other every day. It has been proven that if a couple compliments each other regularly, this creates a more accepting atmosphere toward each other. It is a fact that irritation and tension cannot co-exist in the same dynamic as understanding and appreciation. If you appreciate someone, you are less apt to feel tension toward them, and if you understand where they are coming from, then you are (usually) less irritated by their actions. And understanding and appreciation are most conspicuously expressed verbally, through compliments. In a house where arguments, insults, and put-downs are the norm, a compliment can serve as the necessary shock to jump start the hearts to beating again.
But what about touch? It is equally as important to the dynamic of a relationship as compliments. That is because just a few instances of skin to skin contact per day releases what is known as 'oxytocin' into the blood stream. Oxytocin is a natural stress reliever and makes the brain feel connected to that which caused the release. You need to be that cause!
Realistically, divorce should not be an option for a vast majority of the cases that end up in family courts across the nation. A more strict adherence to Matthew 19:9, and a healthy practice of these principles can save a marriage that seems to be on the brink of doom. Couples should be allowed to lean on one another in troubling times, not be afraid of each other. There's enough stress to deal with out in the world without having to deal with fighting at home. Compliments, patience, understanding, and appreciation can conquer all things. Before you pull the trigger on frustration, pull the trigger on appreciation.
After all, Mark 10:9 says, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.", not "What therefore God hath joined together, let toe nail clippings put asunder."