Friday, March 21, 2014

Choosing Happiness

Most people marry to find happiness, and divorce to find happiness. Ironically,  after the second marriage, divorces outnumber those that occur after the first marriage.

In an article in the Kyeongyang magazine, a professor in a Catholic University  reminds us that we are the ones choosing happiness or unhappiness. In marriage both promise to care and support one another in an emotional relationship in which they promise marital fidelity, and with the registration of the marriage the legal responsibility to one another, and the common ownership of their possessions.

In marriage they promise to live life together, which often means eating together,sleeping together,  watching movies together, and to be completely open to each other. And to help each other during difficult times.

According to the statistics for 2012, there have been 114,300 divorces, about the same from the previous year. However, those with over 20 years of married life, divorces have increased 1.68 times from what it was 10 years before, and those with less than 4 years of marriage, divorces have increased for the first time, from 24.7 percent. In 1993, those with children who divorced numbered 68.8 percent; last year this number decreased to 52.8 percent. But the number of divorces among those with no children increased from 31.2 percent to 47.0 percent.

He lists the reasons for the increase of divorces: the change in attitude toward divorce within society,  the improvement in women's educational possibilities, the many employment openings for women, and their changing attitudes toward marriage as a consequence of their finding greater acceptance in the workplace,  fewer children being raised in the typical family,  the equal treatment of women under the law, expectations for a longer life--all have influenced  the number of divorces.

The number of couples that are living separately continues to increase. One out of ten is not living with their spouse.This number has continued to increase since the year 2000. In many cases this is a first step before the divorce.

Conflicts within marriage are many and the common element in these unhappy marriages is an inability to communicate honestly and openly. There is an obvious need for couples to learn how to share their feelings with  each other. A happy couple is not the one that doesn't fight but the one that has learned to work through their conflicts. It is not the number of conflicts that is important but the number of  ways they have discovered to resolve the conflicts.

He notes 10 ways to resolve conflicts within  a marriage. Not to exaggerate; not to come across as a know-it-all; be responsible for what was wrong; be clear about what you want; don't go to the past to bring up misgivings, stay in the present; in any conflict, avoid discussing the spouse's point of greatest vulnerability; don't magnify the hurt that was received; don't say anything you are not willing to carry out; don't just talk but listen, and don't look for either one to be the winner or the loser.

He admits that it took him many years as a counselor to realize that it was necessary for him to choose to be happy;  unhappiness, he realized, was also his choice. An academic who made a  study of stress said that divorce gives more stress than anything outside of death. If this is the case, it is easy to imagine the stress that a divorce causes the children. The article finishes with what is necessary for a happy marriage: love, respect, care, sacrifice, responsibility--and to choose happiness at  every moment.

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