Why Thinking About Divorce Can Improve Your Marriage

January is the start of the new year, but also the end for many marriages. According to courts, January is known as “divorce month,” due to the spike in divorce filings on the first month of the year. While it sucks to admit, many people during the holidays are thinking about divorcing their partners. In fact, a new nationwide survey conducted by researchers at Brigham Young University Family Studies Center found that many Americans think about divorce often. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. If researchers have anything to say, thinking about divorce may actually promote positive change in a relationship.

"Thoughts about divorce can be a healthy wake-up call to work on a marriage," Dr. Alan Hawkins, professor of Family Life at Brigham Young University said in a press release. "According to our research, most people's thoughts about divorce are more ‘soft’ than ‘serious,’ and can help spur needed actions."

Researchers surveyed 3,000 married people in the U.S. aged 25 to 50-years-old who had been married for at least one year. Questions centered around “divorce ideation,” or what people are thinking about and doing when thoughts of divorce hit.

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As the study found, more than 50 percent of married people admit to recently having thoughts about divorce. However, 43 percent of those who thought about it, really didn’t want to separate and 23 percent said they were willing to work on the marriage if their spouses made important changes. About 90 percent of those who thought about divorce have not taken legal action, and only one percent of those who repeatedly thought about divorcing felt unhappy at the thought of staying together with their spouse.

Those who had lower levels of marital problems were found to be more hopeful about the future of their relationship. They were also almost three times more likely to say they didn’t want to divorce and were willing to work things out. Those who had higher levels of marital problems thought about divorce more frequently and were much more likely to say they were done with the relationship.

So, if you’re thinking about divorce, it’s totally OK. In fact, it’s very common. What you do with those thoughts are what really matters. As researchers wrote in the study, “thoughts about divorce as just that — thoughts, not concrete actions, decisions, or even deep doubts.”

Thoughts about divorce can help them make the positive changes necessary to turn their relationship back around. Thinking about divorce doesn’t necessarily mean you will get divorced. Here are some other things that don’t lead to divorce:

1. You Fight A Lot

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Every couple fights. It’s inevitable. But there are healthy ways to fight and not-so-healthy ways. As a 2014 study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found, couples who are happy in their relationship but have negative fighting styles are more likely to have bigger conflicts. However, those conflicts are usually followed by bigger resolutions from both partners. Essentially, what matters the most isn’t how much you fight, but how you do it and how you resolve it.

2. You Don’t Have As Much Sex As You Used To

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If you’ve been together for a long time and have recently noticed that the frequency of your love making has dropped off, don’t be alarmed. Researchers from Munich’s Ludwig Maximilian University found that sexual satisfaction in relationships peak at the one-year mark.

According to researchers, the reasoning behind it is people learn about each other’s needs over the 12-month “newlywed” period, so sex is at its peak. However, as life changes, sexual satisfaction does as well. But if not having as much sex becomes a problem, it’s something you need to communicate with your partner.

3. Money Issues

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Studies show that money is a common factor in divorce. While lacking money may put strain on a relationship, it’s not the lack of funds that cause problems but the lack of financial compatibility. If two people have conflicting views on how to spend money or how to earn it, they’re going to have problems. It’s all about coming together and figuring out the best way a couple can properly manage their money, whether it be together or separate.

4. Separation

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People automatically assume that separation is the first step towards divorce. However, that’s not always the case. According to Psychology Today, separation can be a time to enhance a relationship. During the time of a trial separation, individuals can take the time to get outside support, find themselves again, and come back to the relationship with a different perspective. But they key to surviving a trial separation is setting clear expectations, having the same goals, and maintaining communication.

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