The Divorce Myth – Redate Your Mate Before It’s Too Late

Couple Redating

Redating is Possible


Recently I read a wonderful article in Boomer Plugged In, an online magazine for and about baby boomers. But this article applies to everyone, at any age. Many of the couples I see in counseling or that I meet at events and elsewhere are struggling to stay connected. Often each one feels secretly that they somehow got the raw end of the deal and that there is probably somebody out there much more suited to their emotional, physical and romantic needs. Shela Dean corroborates what I have been saying for a long time. Love heals. But we have to focus our love in the right direction.


The Divorce Myth
by Guest Blogger Shela Dean

The Baby Boom Generation has the highest percentage of divorce of any demographic, so much so that the term “Grey Divorce” has been coined to describe the phenomena. There are, of course, many reasons for divorce. When it comes to Boomers, however, for many couples who once described their marriage as “good enough,” good enough just isn’t good enough anymore. Boomers say they want more space to find personal fulfillment. Many think they can only have that space either alone or with a new spouse. Statistics say otherwise.

The findings of a 2002 study by the Institute for American Values showed that (1) divorce does not typically make adults happier than staying in an unhappy marriage, and (b) 66% of unhappily married adults who avoided divorce were happily married five years later whether the marriage was of middling quality or had serious problems. Only 20% had divorced and happily remarried in the same time period. In short, you’re more likely to end up happily married to the spouse you have than if you divorce.

In a 2004 study commissioned by AARP based on a survey of people who had been divorced in their 40s, 50s, or 60s, most described divorce as “more emotionally devastating than losing a job, about equal to experiencing a major illness, and somewhat less devastating than a spouse’s death.” Getting a divorce is an emotional big deal that’s not likely to make you happier.

Let’s test the presumption that starting anew gives you the ability to find personal fulfillment. Forget you’re married. Imagine you have unlimited space, freedom, and ability to pursue endless choices. Would you travel to Africa, take up photography, learn to play the piano, trek in Nepal, start a business, take Chinese cooking classes, get a college degree, or get a job?

Now, answer this question: what’s stopping you from doing everything on your list? If, for example, trekking in Nepal is a dream, what’s stopping you? If it’s cost, why can’t you earn the money to go? If your spouse won’t go with you, what’s to stop you from going alone or with a friend? Finally, if your explanation for why you haven’t or can’t, ask yourself (and be honest!) if it’s a reason or an excuse.

A “reason” is an objective explanation for why something is the way it is. An “excuse” is an explanation that involves blaming someone or something else. If the country of Nepal were closed to tourism, you would have a reason why you cannot trek there. If, on the other hand, your explanation is that your spouse won’t let you or can’t get along without you, that’s just an excuse.

The human mind is a pro at creating excuses-disguised-as-reasons. Your spouse provides a ready and convenient excuse for why your life isn’t working and you can’t do the things that would bring personal fulfillment. When you eliminate your spouse as your excuse, the real reason for why you’re not doing everything on your list becomes more apparent. By going through the “excuse” or “reason” exercise, you’ll discover that the only thing stopping you from personal fulfillment is you.

As Gloria Steinem said, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” No one wants to point the arrow of “blame” at themselves. It’s easier to blame than to take personal responsibility. When, however, you stop blaming your spouse (or others) and your marriage (or other circumstances), you free yourself to find personal fulfillment whether married or divorced.

Shela Dean can show you how ReDating Your Mate is a better alternative to divorce. Shela Dean is a nationally recognized Relationship Coach, bestselling author, speaker, and the creator of her trademarked ReDate Your Mate program designed to help all couples, regardless of the state or stage of their relationship, regain their Relationship Mojo by bringing the best of dating into their marriage. Shela helps couples have more intimacy in all areas of their life. She has an uncanny ability to make complex concepts easy to understand and even easier to apply to everyday life, and a unique blend of humor, insight, and practical meat-and-potatoes approach capped with a “cut to the chase” energy that makes it fun to embark on a self-improvement course.  Visit Shela Dean’s web site at or contact her by email at:

Article originally published in Boomers Plugged In, the magazine for, 9/20/11

Struggling to keep your relationship together.  You don’t have to do it alone.  Schedule a counseling or coaching session NOW, before it’s too late.


Dr. Erica


1 The Divorce Myth - Redate Your Mate Before It's Too Late { 10.07.11 at 2:45 am }

[…] Read more Divorce Myths […]

2 Steve-Personal Success Factors { 10.07.11 at 3:45 am }

I’ve been enjoying reading through John Gottman’s book regarding 7 Principles of For Making Marriage Work. It strikes me that he, yourself, and other professionals see so much hope for marriages, even when a couple has so much negative history. It is possible to change the patterns of relating: and dating your mate is a great beginning.
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3 Anne Perez { 10.12.11 at 7:15 am }

Intersting article Dr. Erica. It’s not easy to point the finger at ourselves. Finding an excuse or blaming someone else is the easy way out. I’ve caught myself doing it but its not a productive way to think. I put some of the success of a 25 year marriage to both my husband and I allowing the other to do what they want to do. We’re individuals as well as a couple and by following our own interests we’re more interesting and have things to talk about when we spend time together.

4 Dr. Erica Goodstone { 10.12.11 at 4:00 pm }

You have described a very important component of a successful long term relationship – each person having their own interests and allowing each other to pursue them. Some men or women rely too much on their partner. The partner can feel smothered or bored. This is only one component, but quite important over time.
Dr. Erica

5 Angela Brooks { 10.15.11 at 7:12 pm }

great tips! for 11 years my husband and I have always used our anniversary as time for us to get away and just date each other – this year due to things that were going on we did not and it felt like we had missed a HUGE portion of our year. It want happen again… we made that decision toegther

6 Dr. Erica Goodstone { 10.15.11 at 9:41 pm }

@ Angela Brooks:
You both have the right idea. Marriages require that sense of romance and re-igniting the spark, not just getting caught up in mundane details of life.

Dr. Erica

7 Ronald { 10.17.11 at 4:03 pm }

Great tips. I remember my parents having trouble in their marriage when I was young. I can’t count how many times my mother wanted to leave my father. Fortunately her plans never took action. Things are doing well now and I actually notice that they are getting along.
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8 Dr. Erica Goodstone { 10.17.11 at 4:42 pm }

@ Ronald:
What you are sharing is so important for all of us to realize. Marriage is not easy. We are close to another person and may not agree on a host of different issues that affect both of us and the family. But leaving to find something better is also not always the answer. There is a word, “grit,” which describes a quality that gets people through the tough times and can eventually lead to greater intimacy, a sense of belonging and deep love.


Dr. Erica

9 Dr. Erica Goodstone { 10.17.11 at 4:46 pm }

@ Steve-Personal Success Factors:

John Gottman is probably the leading authority on what makes relationships work and endure. His research reveals that there is a quality of disdain, an attitude of having giving up on the relatioship and an assumption that the partner is unworthy, that leads to dissolution of marriages. But when there is love, respect, and a belief that healing is possible, it IS possible and relationships do endure.


Dr. Erica

10 Donna Merrill { 10.18.11 at 12:36 am }

Wonderful points you have shared and I enjoyed this post so much. I always feel that communication is the foundation of any relationship. Doing the blame game, and other things you have mentioned, can lead someone into a divorce. BUT..before you decide to bolt, and things are just not going right, a date night will create a more peaceful and intimate setting for communication.
No one ever said marriage was a piece of cake. It does take two to tango.
Thanks again for your wonderful inspiration,

11 Dr. Erica Goodstone { 10.18.11 at 4:06 pm }

Marriage is not a piece of cake but neither is being single and learnings bits and pieces about another person without having the whole picture. It is really a decision to create a good marriage and at least one person has to make a strong effort, preferably both.


Dr. Erica