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Staying married is worth it

A recent report shows that the proportion of adults in Singapore who divorced at least twice has more than doubled in the past decade ("Happily never after - again"; July 24).

Marital problems tend to be carried from one marriage to another. If not dealt with from the outset, the underlying issues of one's unhappiness and relationship difficulties are often carried into future marriages.

It has been found that unhappily married couples who divorce are generally not happier after their divorce, compared with unhappy couples who stay married.

Barring cases of ongoing adultery, abuse or abandonment, divorce is not the solution to one's unhappiness, as is often thought. In fact, it can compromise one's chances of a successful marriage in the future.

Research shows that two out of three unhappy marriages can become happy within five years if people do not divorce.

Unhappiness can be caused by external factors, such as challenges faced in the workplace or in raising children.

However, job situations may improve and parenting may become less challenging with time and guidance.

Instead of thinking that divorce is the solution to marital challenges, married couples can adopt a commitment towards long-lasting marriage and work towards improving their communication patterns and conflict-management skills to increase intimacy in their marriage.

The onus of change is ultimately on each spouse.

Change begins with oneself, rather than expecting one's spouse to change. With a change of one's own views, expectations and communication patterns, ongoing marital problems can be seen from a new perspective.

Staying married is challenging, but sticking it out is worth it when an unhappy marriage finally turns the corner and becomes stronger and happier.

Elvira Tan (Ms)

Marriage Specialist

Focus On The Family Singapore

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 07, 2016, with the headline 'Staying married is worth it'. Print Edition | Subscribe