The divorce rate in the Western world is still on the rise. It's past the one third rate and heading toward 50% of marriages. The social consequences are quite large. Not only is there great pain for the marriage partners, but if there are children involved, they end up being dragged apart by their parents. When their parents remarry the children then have to handle the emotional tugs associated with blended families. Divorce affects their schooling and their emotional development.
It's hard to define any one element that will hold a marriage together. The Bible identifies "love" as the crucial element, although the word is so overworked today that it has all but lost its meaning. The King James version of the Bible translates the word as "charity", but today the word "charity" is somewhat superficial. Love is probably all about acceptance. Relationships are built by accepting one another, accepting our weaknesses, faults and failings. It's all about giving rather than taking - adjusting, forgiving, adapting.
Two people find they have a real bond with each other and so they unite and head into life together. As the Bible puts it, they leave their parents, cleave to (unite with) each other and become one flesh, Gen.2:24. Staying together, rather than drifting apart, involves acceptance, particularly during times of change. We are constantly changing, and change is not always easily handled. Communication is the crucial factor; keeping the channels of communication open, talking, discussing, ironing out the differences, is the way through change.
The signs of impending divorce are:
i] Contempt. This is where you see rolling eyes, grimacing or sneering, when the partner says something. It's one of those not-so-good signs.
ii] Criticism. This is where a partner attacks the character of the other partner. This is not just a complaint, but an attack on the person.
iii] Defensiveness. This is where there is a constant whining about things, answering complaint with complaint.
iv] Stonewalling. This involves withdrawing from conversations, from communication with a partner.
The above four signs of impending disaster can serve as a timely warning to get back to the business of love, of accepting the other, rather than end up facing the horror of divorce. "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."