If the number of divorced Canadians lived in one place it would have more residents than Montreal. One-point-eight million Canadians categorized themselves as divorced in the 2016 Census.
Married for 31 years, Anita Scheyk believes couples have a tendency to throw in the towel a little too quickly.
“I think the younger generation, they just don’t work at it,” Scheyk said.
“When things get tough they think that if they get out of that relationship into another one it’s better and I don’t think it’s ever better when you go into another one. You’re bringing the same faults you had with the other husband. They’re bringing theirs’ and you gotta work through it.”
University of Alberta family scientist Adam Galovan says there’s reason for couples to pause before calling it quits. Galovan and a team of researchers surveyed 3,000 married Americans between the ages of 25 and 50. They found 50 per cent of respondents who were pondering divorce changed their mind when asked again a year later.
“Divorce is much more common and people think about it more regularly so I think it’s helpful to dig in and say, ‘You know what? Even if you are thinking about it, take a minute and think a little bit more and don’t worry so much that it’s the end just because you are thinking about it.”
The study, What Are They Thinking? A National Study of Stability and Change in Divorce Ideation, found the majority of the people who thought about divorce thought about it infrequently (less than a few times). Thoughts of divorce declined after about 15 years of marriage and the longer a respondent had been married, the less likely they were to think about calling it quits.
The survey also asked respondents if they had told their spouse they were considering divorce. Forty per cent said yes, 40 per cent said no and 20 per cent said, “maybe, we sort of talked about it.”
Relationship therapist Dr. Ottawa Easingwood advises against keeping thoughts of divorce from your spouse. She believes sitting on the problem just escalates issues and recommends getting professional help.
“Should they talk about it? Absolutely. Because their partner could think everything is great, everything is wonderful. Meanwhile, their partner is thinking divorce. If you have got issues you need to tell your partner so you at least you have a chance to work on it.”
Easingwood says she’s seen a shift in the types of issues couples are trying to work through.
“(Affairs) used to be a number one divorce maker. What we are seeing is a shift. People are finding out that, ‘I still love this person. I hate what happened. I still want to see if we can figure out a way. I don’t know how to figure this out.’ And so they are coming to figure out: How can we find our way out of this mess we have created?”
Anita and Jerry Scheyk credit honesty and “being real” with helping them celebrate three decades of anniversaries.
“You gotta work at it. It takes a lot of time and sometimes you gotta tolerate some problems.”
Read the full study below: