I come from a divorced family and many of you do as well. The divorce rate is around 50%. Half of the people that get married, get divorced. This is crazy! How does this happen? Let's take a look…

How does one go from “I love you” to “I loathe you?”

I've been to my share of weddings and I've seen the joy, excitement and love that the bride and groom have for one another. Just take a look at any groom's face the moment the church doors open and he gets to see his bride for the first time… This is the moment they have been waiting for their entire lives. They are totally in love.

So what happens?

Here are 3 things that couples do that help them end up in a divorce:

1. Never dealing with conflict

Have you ever heard of the phrase “sweeping your problems under the rug?” This is what dysfunctional relationships do. Instead of lovingly dealing with conflict in a godly way, many couples avoid conflict altogether. Some choose to avoid conflict in an attempt to have peace. They fear that conflict itself will cause more problems. If done incorrectly, they are right.

The issue with sweeping your problems under the rug is the problems never go away. They are still there piling up, day after day, week after week. Just because you ignore them, doesn't mean they're going to go away. You can only avoid conflict for so long before someone explodes in a typically dramatic fashion. Many small issues that are never dealt with can pile up to become a mountain.

2. Always assuming the worst

People tend to give themselves the benefit of the doubt, but when it comes other people, we assume the worst. You would think this wouldn't be the case with the person you chose to marry. Many people fall into the trap of thinking, “because he/she knows me so well (better than anyone), he/she should know what hurts me. Therefore, if they hurt me, they must have meant to hurt me.” When you assume the worst, you make the other person feel attacked.

Let me ask you this question: How often do you intend on hurting someone you love?

Never. You don't intend on it, but some times it happens. We love our friends and we would like to think that we are good people who wouldn't do such a thing, yet it still happens. Sometimes we say things or do things, unknowingly, that hurt or offend the ones we love.

Giving each other the benefit of the doubt is one of the most important things in a relationship. It says, “I know you love me and that you didn't intend on hurting me. I am hurt, but I believe that wasn't your intention.” Man! Just that alone can make such a difference.

3. Putting yourself first

If you put your feelings and your hurts before your spouse, that's called selfishness. Do not wait for the other person to apologize. Apologize first. Ask how you have hurt them and account for the things that you have done, even if you don't feel like it “should have hurt them.” It did hurt them and you were involved. Just apologize. Care and be loving.

Putting others first is a great way to show how much you care. Selfishness demands to go first. Love puts the other person first.

Philippians 2:3-4 ESV
(3) Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
(4) Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Takeaway: Half of the people that get married, get divorced. This doesn't have to be you. Lovingly deal with conflict, assume the best, and put your significant other first. These 3 principles (which are by no means exhaustive) can help you have a long-lasting, fruitful relationship.

What else can help your relationship stay strong, vibrant and away from divorce ? Let me know in the comments below.

Ryan Maher
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