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By Irving H. Zaroff, JD LMFT and Dana Schutz, MA LMFT
Apply yourself. Get all the education you can, but then, by God, do something. Don't just stand there, make it happen.-- Lee Iacocca
In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell proposes that intuitive decisions are more often the best decisions; that too much information creates “analysis paralysis.” The psychologist John Gottman applies this principle to marriages. He claims to have 95% accuracy in predicting divorce after spending one hour with a couple. There are significant criticisms of this approach as being unscientific and lacking in rigorous examination.
How might this apply in deciding whether to end a marriage? For some, the first time the thought of divorce crosses the mind, it may ultimately prove to be the right choice. For many, the thought of divorce may occur many times, but the marriage may not only survive, but thrive given time and commitment. How then to proceed?
The process of divorce in litigation or mediation involves a great deal of effort in producing information about a couples financial situations, and with children involved, the needs of children. Intuitive decision making has a clear emotional component and involves unconscious beliefs and expectations that may not serve the long run goals of anyone in the family. It is important to have as much relevant information as possible. Accumulating the data, getting professional opinions, and “mulling it over” through a reasonable amount of reflection results in a reasoned choice. This is the best choice a person can make considering their own world view, the information available at the time, and the need to make a decision. Second-guessing the future is an exercise in futility.
What happens after making such a decision? Some will live with the decision without acting on it. If the decision was made with sufficient knowledge, outside support, and reasonable reflection, failing to act does not often result in healing. Whether deciding to end a marriage or commit to the marriage, action will prove to be the ultimate source of relief or resolution.
In carpentry the saying is, “Measure twice, cut once.” Of course you don’t want to make a mistake, but without the act of cutting, you cannot build a thing.