Divorce Versus Annulment Examining the Differences in the Most Common Ways to End a Marriage

Divorce Versus Annulment Examining the Differences in the Most Common Ways to End a Marriage

Divorce Versus Annulment

Examining the Differences in the Most Common Ways to End a Marriage

They both are a means to an end. An annulment completely erases the wedding and marriage from history. Divorce acknowledges the union existed but legally ends it.

In our day in age, one would think we’ve all come to accept that marriages end. Pencils do have erasers, after all. But for some, the shameful stigma of failure is enough to leave them wishing the marriage hadn’t occurred in the first place.

That said, annulments aren’t easy to come by.

Reasons for an Annulment

Fraud

When Actress Renée Zellweger filed for an annulment in 2005 from singer Kenny Chesney after four months of marriage, she cited fraud as her reason for doing so. She was eventually granted her annulment.

Fraud could mean any number of things. One spouse could have lied about something that deeply impacted the other spouse. And that could be about anything from their ability to have children, marrying to gain citizenship, or one of them could’ve been underage at the time they married.

Incest

A few years ago in the UK, twins who were separated at birth found out they were siblings after having married. They later sought to have their marriage annulled in a secret court hearing.

Although rare, unintentional incest does happen. In those cases, courts must give room for unique situations.

Bigamy

Bigamy occurs when a person marries someone new while still legally married to their prior spouse.

Consent

It applies most to cases in which one person is coerced into marrying another. This is probably most obvious with teen brides in certain fundamentalist religions.

Temporary Intoxication

Britney Spears was hanging out with her childhood friend, Jason Alexander, one night in Las Vegas. The two got married that night in 2004, and 55 hours later, their marriage was annulled.

Disability or Mental Illness

Either one or both of the spouses could have entered the marriage without understanding the consequences. Sometimes mentally capable people marry someone with a disability.

No Consummation of the Marriage

A marriage in which the parties have not engaged in sexual activity can end in an annulment.

Marriage Prohibited by Law

In the past, marriage was inaccessible to same-sex and interracial couples. Thankfully, we are becoming a more progressive society. But there could be actual legitimate reasons for a marriage to be considered an illegal union that we haven’t covered here.

Religious Annulments

In certain religions, like the Roman Catholic church, for example, you can actually receive a religious annulment after getting a civil divorce. This annulment allows both parties to remarry someone in their religion.

Divorce Versus AnnulmentReasons for Divorce

Divorce is complicated. Depending on your state, you may have both no-fault and fault divorce options. In a no-fault divorce, neither is blamed for the breakup.

In an at-fault divorce, one spouse wants the other to have the responsibility of being blamed for ending the marriage. Many states, however, no longer recognize fault divorces.

An at-fault divorce generally includes:

Addiction

This could be a serious addiction to anything from drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc.

Adultery

One or both spouses had affairs.

Abuse

Whether physical or emotional, one spouse subjects the other to domestic abuse.

Abandonment

Sometimes one spouse will leave the other.

Mental Illness

One spouse could have developed an incurable mental illness.

Prison Sentence

If one commits a crime, is convicted, and is sent away to prison for a significant amount of time.

Objections to At-Fault Divorce

You can object to an at-fault divorce for these common reasons.

Collusion

In collusion, both spouses agree that one of them will take the fault for whatever allegation the other cooked up. It was a common practice long ago when two people grew tired of their marriage and wanted an easy way out.

Condonation

The acceptance of a certain type of bad behavior. If the marriage was an open one, and one of them tries to file an at-fault based divorce claiming adultery, it’ll backfire. It can be difficult to prove condonation as not everyone will commit adultery.

Connivance

Connivance occurs when one suspects the other is cheating. An elaborate scheme gets cooked up to catch the deceitful partner in the act.

For example: Say a woman knows her husband is struggling with sex addiction. She invites her female friend over to entice her husband. The wife arrives home to find her man in bed with her friend, just as she planned.

In court, she alleges adultery. He could argue that his wife set him up and connived him into it.

Provocation

Someone made you do it. If a wife accuses her husband of domestic abuse, he could claim she provoked him by hitting him first. It’s taboo to talk about this but male domestic violence exists. In these cases, men are victims just like women are.

Often, may star in the relationship because they are usually in denial. They want to protect their children, or their church encourages them to continue to work on the union. It’s the same reasons women stay.

In Conclusion

At the end of the day, most courts want to have a solution to the problem whether that means an annulment or divorce. Courts aren’t interested in keeping people together if they’re not interested in being together. In the end, it all depends on your specific set of circumstances and your state’s laws on whether you can file and be granted an annulment or divorce.

 

 

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On Being a Stepdad Post-Divorce The Utter Joys and Total Heartbreaks of Raising (and Then Sometimes Losing) a Blended Family

On Being a Stepdad Post-Divorce The Utter Joys and Total Heartbreaks of Raising (and Then Sometimes Losing) a Blended Family

On Being a Stepdad Post-Divorce

The Utter Joys and Total Heartbreaks of Raising (and Then Sometimes Losing) a Blended Family

What’s totally true is that when it comes to being a stepdad, we have zero rights. None! So how, then, does someone invest their energy, truly give themselves over and open up in the emotionally bumpy road of becoming another influential adult for a new partner’s children?

As a man, I can’t speak about the emotional and spiritual aspects of being a stepmom. Clearly, both genders have different visions, expectations, and opinions of what their individual role is as a parent. “That’s obvious!” I can hear you all saying!

My children have experienced life with step parents on both sides. Navigating these relationships was difficult for my kids. It was only after heavy discussions and deep conversations that I finally understand how difficult these relationships can be to navigate.

When it ends, and what was is no longer, partners move on. And there’s no room for you in this space of parenting or influence. It’s not fair. Being a stepdad and accepting your role, your place in your new family only to have it fall out from under you. Kids go through that, too.

Divorce sucks. It’s the worst! Mine was full of conflict and imbalance. My beautiful children suffered for it.

Truth is, as more marriages fail, and we all become estranged from each other in some way, we need to remain in a place of harmony. Letting your ego, anger, and frustrations open the gates to fear gets in the way of your job, your duty, the one you owe to your child. Harmony is a gift you give to your kids when you’re taking everything else from them.

Being a Stepdad Is an Experience of Many Layers

My journey through step-fatherhood has been complex. I love my stepson as much as I do my biological children. The difficulty comes from the boundaries and perception society creates when biological parents split up.

In my case, I may have made some mistakes while trying to guide my stepson. But I looked at the things I missed out on with my sons and made an effort to engage with him and do those things. It gave us more room to respect one another on common ground.

And here’s the kicker, the difficult and, frankly speaking, the heartbreaking aspect of reality as a step parent: We have zero, zilch, nein, no rights to the kids, too, helped raise.

I love my stepson, want the best for him, his schooling, sports, his vision of how to be towards his mother, and his view as he grows up. But the cold reality is this, if you spend time investing in this relationship, and then for some reason it falls apart, you–the kid’s surrogate father for all intents and purposes–have nothing. No more surfing. No more motorbikes. No playing basketball in the driveway or football in the yard. It’s done.

On Being a Stepdad-What Does This Create for You as a Stepdad?

Take time to speak deeply, and with balance, to your partner. Express in a loving way how you want to explore the relationship with her children. Most of all, remember they’re not your kids. They’re people with a narrow field of view. If you cannot treat them with respect, you will not get their respect.

Ben Survived His Stepdad’s Abuse

I’ve spoken to my son, Ben, and have his permission to share this. His hope is that you’ll read about his experiences and realize the magnitude of the depth with which kids see their surroundings.

Back in 2003, my Ben was 14 and a loving, respectful young man. Sure, he was a bit outspoken but a good kid. I had been divorced from Ben’s mum for almost 11 years. At that time, she was in a 9-year relationship with a man. Outwardly, things seemed to be going great.

Then my Australian phone rang one random day. It was Ben’s school administrator. My boy had arrived that day to his school in the UK with bruises all over his back.

In all our chats and visits, my children never let on that they were being abused. That phone call was the first I knew of it. Like any father would, I hopped on a plane and flew across a hemisphere to my kids. But by the time I arrived, Ben had changed his story.

A year later, while away on holiday with me in Australia, Ben told me the truth. My kid, my brave, brave boy withstood 12 more months of hell being persecuted and bullied. His then-stepfather threatened my son. If I caused any trouble upon arriving, he would give me the same beatings he’d inflicted on Ben.

Part of me wishes he had tried.

Being a Stepdad Does Not Give You License to Abuse Your Step-Children

Being a stepdad does not give guys, anyone, carte blanche to hand out discipline to the children. None! And in my mind it’s simple, a great stepdad will be the objective third party, the point of balance, the confidante, another set of ears for the child to unload their angst. They trust you more than anyone else in the house. Rise to deserve it.

When I sat with my son that day back in 2003, he simply lied and told me things were okay. Fear kept him silent. Specifically, fear of harm befalling me kept him in that abusive environment. In his 14-year-old mind he believed that my wellbeing was more important than his. Not only that but that Ben was somehow responsible for preventing conflict between his abuser and me.

It’s a totally unacceptable situation for any child–no matter the situation or circumstances.

I was pissed! I was angry at both my ex-wife and her partner. Yet the solution was not to cause more friction. It was simply to do what was right for my kids. My job was to support them, to show them that they had one balanced parent who would listen and act appropriately. In that way, being a stepdad is a lot like being a dad.

Yep, I openly admit that for a moment, I wanted to retaliate with all the letters, court filings, legal motions, word, spite, and even anger I could pull out of my arsenal. None of it would’ve saved Ben and his siblings. Frankly speaking, vengeance wouldn’t erase their unfathomable past. Nor would it make them feel any better about it.

Any reaction from me needed to be balanced and specific to their safety and well-being. And as men, we need to step up and be the strength and support our sons and daughters need. Exacting revenge is pointless. Momentary satisfaction fades. You have the rest of your kids’ lives hanging in the balance. Anything you do will forever remain with them.

My Final Thoughts About What Being a Stepdad Means

We must give our children a point of safety and balance to come to when other things are imploding around them. It’s difficult enough that they have to deal with adults who are hell bent on conflict. And their reality is changing all the while. Add to that a clueless stepparent telling them how to behave and how to feel about the people they love.

Your choice to become a stepdad is a huge one. Consider it carefully, meticulously. It’s an emotional investment that may end badly for you.

I was able to reconcile that my beautiful ex-partner had a different path to follow. But the emotional difficulty of losing yet another child who I came to love as much as my own babes, was and will forever be heartbreaking.

Being a stepdad is a bigger deal than simply creating new life. So act the part. Be the best stepdad you can be. In time, any love you’ve given will impact those kids. For as long as they live they’ll never forget you. And that’s all you can hope for.

As for my Ben, he’s now a grown man and father to his boys and a girl. He’s doing great!

Growing up, did you have any step parents? If so, what did you learn from that experience? Help us out by sharing your story in our comments section!

Green/blue book cover to Peter Bowd's The Deserving WomanPeter Bowd is the Founder of Living With Brain Injury, a website that focuses on exposing the everyday impact of traumatic brain injury. He’s an outspoken, global advocate for ending domestic violence toward men, women, and children. Peter recently released his first book, The Deserving Woman, in which he chronicles his experiences with love, loss, becoming a father and grandfather.

Born in the UK, Peter now lives in Queensland, Australia with his family and four-legged companion, a Rottweiler named Valentino.

Follow him on Twitter and hit like on his Facebook page, too.

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Divorce Advice for Dads Tell Us Your Story

Divorce Advice for Dads Tell Us Your Story

Guyvorce’s community of single dads is growing at an explosive pace. Struggling single fathers share their divorce stories with us all the time. It’s what we’re here for, Guyvorce exists in the first place.

Without a network of supportive like-minded individuals behind them, single fathers get knocked around to the point that they can’t take it anymore. We know. All of us at Guyvorce have been through it. And we consider being a part of your supportive network a privilege.

We get emails and messages over social media platforms and from all over the country from men sharing their personal stories. Consistent within these stories is a theme of injustice. A few examples of these common fouls include:

  • Exes failing to meet their directed visitation requirements
  • Completely ignored visitation rights
  • Poisoning of your relationships with your children by your ex
  • Ridiculously unfair child support and alimony obligations
  • Unthinkable property division orders
  • Excessively lengthy and expensive redress routes through the court system that are very often ineffective

As the head of Guyvorce’s Social Media Department, I get a chance to interact with divorced guys from all walks of life. Their personal stories about struggling to be there, front and center for their kids linger with me always.

And while I’ve shared some of my struggles as a solo father, I haven’t yet told my story. That’s about to change.

SoloFathers book cover by TJ CarverTJ Carver: Navy Pilot, Divorced Dad, and Author of the SoloFathers Book Series

Over the past year, I’ve enjoyed a tremendous opportunity writing for Guyvorce. If you asked me just over five years ago where I thought I’d be or what I’d be doing today, writing for a divorce site for men would not have made the list.

Life throws you curve balls.

I’m a career pilot for the US Navy. I met my ex-wife while I was in flight school. We traveled the globe together, making lots of friends along the way. Fourteen years and three kids later, we headed home, stateside.

Twenty-one days into a month-long training course, she called me out of the blue. It’s the call far too many of us have received. She was done with me. It was over. All I knew was turned upside down. My life’s formation ended that day. I was flying solo.

In the weeks that followed, I learned from other men who had been through it. We compared stories and found similarities. At my initial consult, my military-assigned attorney sat me down and took the last puffs of remaining wind out from under my wings.

She was the stay-at-home mom. I was the working Dad. Nevermind the nightly homework I did. Nevermind the grocery runs, the meals, the activities. Nevermind that we parented in shifts, and I ran the household from the moment I arrived home after a solid day’s work until bedtime. None of that mattered. I was just supposed to accept the fact that I would see my kids, my flesh and blood one to two weekends per month, a little at Christmas and during the summer.

I refused.

Today I happily sit on the other side. My kids are thriving and my life is great. But I didn’t get from there to here without spending time and money on resources. Every step I took was uphill. It hurt.

There aren’t enough places dads can go to get information. During divorce, we’re on our own. The Internet and store bookshelves are both jam-packed with empowering resources and strategies to help women through it. But we guys, we’re on our own.

Our culture, which emphasizes a man’s need to fix himselfcowboy uprub some dirt in it, and move on, has forced us, as men, to suffer privately.

Divorce Advice for Dads (1)How Solo Fathers Came to Be

What started out as notes and collections of ideas and experiences grew into the Solo Fathers book series. I pooled everything I learned from my divorce into a single set of resources for dads like us. I wrote it as a payback and dedication to my own network of friends who helped me through it.

I aim to help other guys who are just starting down the sick, twisted path that I’ve already walked down by guiding them around the pitfalls many of us found first.

The problem with writing a book about divorce is that it isn’t something you write once and then sell millions of copies of it. Laws change. New strategies emerge all the time to help us adapt and work within the barriers of those new laws. What we need is a resource that’s globally accessible and can easily be updated when needed. Enter Guyvorce!

The Ultimate Source for Divorce Advice for Men

I jumped in head-first when the opportunity to work with Guyvorce! Guyvorce’s mission and my own aligned perfectly and provided the dynamic and flexible tools men need to get them through the divorce while also addressing their needs after it. The site connects divorce related news, studies, and calls for reform straight to the men who need it.

At Guyvorce, we take on the job of collecting stories and calls to action to bring media attention to issues. Policies won’t change overnight. But our team works hard to bring attention to the broken system.

Numerous fathers throughout our nation go YEARS denied of their rights to see their children. Often it’s under the umbrella of court directives. And that’s despite the mountain of evidence (let alone common sense understanding) proving that kids do better and grow better to be better mothers and fathers themselves when they have both of their parents involved in their upbringing.

That’s what’s so upsetting about things like child support! Men barely making a sustainable wage end up owing a huge chunk of their earnings to their ex who then isolates the father who is paying to support his kids in the first place! And for every story I hear like this, there are a thousand more hidden by noise.

Screw that!

In Closing

You have a choice to make. We can complain to each other, suffering almost silently, or you can get your story heard. We’re here, and we’re not going anywhere. In fact, we’re growing!

Give us your stories, the details, so we can get these issues voiced! Send ’em on in at any time! Email me at [email protected], comment on our social media posts, messaging via social media, or send a raven to us from Winterfell! However you get it here, just get it here.

Leave your comments! Answer our surveys! Get involved!

Nothing we do will change the past, but your sons will grow up to be men. Do it for them. They’ll likely join the 1.4 million other men who divorce every year. Do you want them to walk through the same landmine-laden path you did? I did?

If so, stop reading. Unsubscribe. Honestly, we don’t need folks like you.

Everyone else, those of you who have a pair and want to arm the next generation, get involved. I’ll keep an eye out for your story.

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What Is a Phenomenal Dad? On Writing My First Book and How Any Dad Can Learn to Be Phenomenal

What Is a Phenomenal Dad? On Writing My First Book and How Any Dad Can Learn to Be Phenomenal

Despite what you’ve heard, being a great dad, a Phenomenal Dad, isn’t something you come pre-wired with. You don’t enter a marriage or create a family with the tools you’ll need to successfully raise children.

No, when it comes to fatherhood, your gut is worse than useless. You’ll need training. Someone needs to sit you down and tell you in plain English what your job as a male parental unit entails. Without that, without advice, guidance, and support, most dads give up. They walk away.

And while it might feel like the right thing to do post-divorce, walking away from your kids is the worst thing you can ever do! No matter how bad it is or how your ex is isolating you from them, creating space between you and them won’t make anything better. You’ll only be making their lives worse.

Fighting for My Daughter

You’ve already read my story. If you haven’t, give it a read. And while reading it might give you insight into how and why I developed my theory, what you don’t know is that I spent nine long years tracking down my daughter after she was taken by her father. Finding her was all at once the most exhilarating and most upsetting moment of my life.

The time I’d lost with her hurt. I’d missed out on so many important moments in her life. And I knew that no matter how hard I tried, no matter what I did or bought her, I’d never get that time with my then-11-year-old back. Her dad succeeded in erasing me completely from her world.

Five years later, we’re close. But there still lies an indescribable rift, a void between us. For all that I know about her, and she me, we don’t really know each other. She suffered in my absence. As I was hard at work trying like hell to track down a lead, an address, a rumor, anything to bring me closer to my baby, my daughter was being abused.

Still think your kids will be fine without you around?

This is for every divorced dad and mom, or soon-to-be divorced dad and mom

Starting on the very first page of this book, Cruz Santana loads you up on the simple yet vital things you as a divorced dad can be doing to affirm you child and keep them close through and beyond this difficult time.

The wisdom in the advice in this book is something I wish I’d had decades ago with my own children who, due to my own ignorance, now want nothing to do with me.

– Allan Seabrook

What is a Phenomenal DadHow to Be a Phenomenal Dad

I wrote Phenomenal Dad: Ten Lessons on Single Fatherhood from a Tougher-Than-Nails Single Mom in hopes of reaching out to divorced dads. I want to pull them closer to their kids than they’ve ever been before. It’s my belief that dads can be better as single fathers than they were as married guys.

My process isn’t easy. But it shouldn’t be. Being a parent is the hardest, most emotionally and physically taxing part of my life. When you’re doing it right it always is. That’s how you know. That’s the metric you should use. If you’re not feeling like you’ve spent every possible resource, drop of blood, and ounce of sweat, you’re not giving enough.

Here are three simple tips to get you started:

1. Show up for your kids.

Be there. No, not back in the house. Especially not if you and your ex-wife haven’t yet cooled down. But be as close as you possibly can.

Does your soccer-playing-kid have a meet at a school across town? Get there. How ever you can, get there. Phenomenal dads make every effort, negotiate for time off with the boss, move every mountain to show up. Kids only care that you’re there to celebrate their wins and lend comfort when they lose the big game by one stupid point. So, be there.

Do  you think buying your little ones fancy sneakers, iThings, and all the other crap they want will bring them closer to you? It might for a while.

You see, kids’ attention spans are fleeting. No sooner have you paid off the credit card bill for their junk than they’ve already forgotten how close you were the day you handed them the gizmo-filled box.

2. Video chat often.

I mean like every day, if you can. Take advantage of tech! Why not? You probably paid a fortune for it. So, use it to bridge the way to your little ones. No matter how old they are they’ll appreciate that you took the time to Skype or FaceTime with them.

Bring them into your world. Show them your surroundings. It’s especially useful when you’re traveling. It will mean more to them that you remembered to show them the view from the Empire State Building than buying them that blasted gizmo in the first place.

3. Use technology to fight for your children.

Feel like your ex is pulling you away from your kids? Been there. So, get sneaky and fight for them.

Start by documenting every conversation you and your ex have. You can easily do this by using email. Using email is by far your best bet. While your phone (and various messaging services) can prove that the message was delivered and that it was read, your email serves as legal proof of any agreements you make.

Go a step further and prove that she opened your messages by using Sidekick by Hubspot. It’s a free app that’s easy to use and works with your Gmail account. It will notify you when and if your emails have been opened and by whom! And best of all? It’s free!

If you ever need to prove she’s ignoring your requests to gain access to your kids, simply print off Sidekick’s report and submit it as evidence along with your email correspondence!

A wonderful resource for any parent or guardian

Clear-cut, detailed, commonsensical instructions for bettering one’s parenthood game. Despite the title, there’s something in this for every father, every mother, every aunt or uncle, even.

This book is well laid out and organised into sensible sections, with practical activities given at the end of each section. I particularly like that; not only were there some very useful things suggested, but the very structure of it seems designed to prevent the way that so many people will race through self-help books, skim-reading and not really gaining anything. The activities slow the reader down and cause him to think about what he has just read.

A terrific resource for any parent or guardian, not just the single or non-custodial father.

– T. Ormiston-Smith

Final Thoughts

Remaining in your child’s line of sight is your job! It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are or how far she moved your kid. Mine crossed the country! Nothing should stop you from having the best possible relationship with you kid.

Plan on being there for major events. Set up email reminders if you have to, but show up! Connect with your little ones if you’re away. Use video chat to make it happen. And let tech work for you. Keep your correspondence with your ex limited to email. Text for the small stuff here and there (like to tell her you’re on the way over to pick up your minions), but use email exclusively to set up the date and time to pick them up. This way, you’ll have a record of your intent.

If any of this sounds too hard or requires more effort than you’re willing to put in, start small. Reach out slowly. Your relationship may suffer for it, but at least you’ll be around. Kids need validation. So be their sounding board, they’re champion. Listen, dads have it rough. But a Phenomenal Dad says, “Bring it on!”

Phenomenal Dad: Ten Lessons on Single Fatherhood from a Tougher-Than-Nails  Single Mom is Cruz Santana’s first published book. It’s available wherever ebooks are sold. 

Get it on Amazon today for $4.99. It’s time to let go of who you were. Stand up and be the Phenomenal Dad your kids need you to be!

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How to Prevent Divorce Easy Actions You Can Take Now to Turn the Tides In Your Favor

How to Prevent Divorce Easy Actions You Can Take Now to Turn the Tides In Your Favor

How to Prevent Divorce

Easy Actions You Can Take Now to Turn the Tides In Your Favor

Anyone who has gone through a divorce, either the divorce of your parents or your own, wishes they had the secret to making a marriage work. If only marriage was like a math problem with a black and white, concrete answer.

Many studies have come out in the last few years documenting the statistics on who is more likely to get divorced: people who spend more than $20,000 on their wedding, couples living in red states, those with only a high school education, or people who have a commute to and from work that’s 45 minutes or longer, and the list goes on.

While all of that data is interesting, it doesn’t really help the high-school educated commuters in Wyoming who sprang for an open bar and a DJ at their wedding. Fortunately, there are things within your control that can help keep you off of the road to divorce.Get on the Same Page Financially

Get on the Same Page Financially

According to the American Psychological Association, studies have shown that financial concerns are among the most common sources of disagreements for couples. Some people are natural savers and some people are natural spenders but you don’t have to marry someone exactly like you. In fact, two spenders in the family might lead to financial disaster and two savers might never have any fun. But you do need to recognize which you are and agree to work towards goals together.

You and your spouse may divide duties, making one partner responsible for daily spending and the other responsible for long-term savings and investing – roles that are often at odds with each other and lead to conflict.

Instead, share roles equally and set aside a regular time each month to review bills and discuss plans. The APA recommends avoiding the word “budget,” as some people have a negative reaction to the word. Instead, think in terms of plans and goals. Decide on priorities together and your conversations on money will be much more satisfying.Take Time for Each Other

Take Time for Each Other

One of the best ways to keep the spark in a marriage is to make time for each other. With the hectic pace of life, careers, kids, and other responsibilities it’s easy to take your partner for granted.

Instead, make time for a date night once a week or once a month, even if it’s just going for a drive or taking a walk together. There is no substitute for shared quality time together. Making a point of being together, without kids, phones, television, or other interruptions helps you remember why you fell in love with that person in the first place and helps you maintain a bond that will get you through life’s rough spots.

Three things in Human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.

Have Realistic Expectations

If your marriage is not all that you’d hoped and dreamed it could be, you may have to consider whether you have realistic expectations.

Movies, books, and television often portray love and romance in a way that reality just can’t live up to. Marriage cannot be relied on to cure sadness and depression, resolve problems, and pave a straight path to eternal happiness.

Understand that even the best marriages have some strife, rough patches, and require work. Work toward having a rich and fulfilling life outside of your spouse instead of expecting him or her to deliver it to you.

How to Prevent Divorce (1)Try a Little Tenderness

Author Henry James once said, “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”

While “irreconcilable differences” is the rubber-stamp cause of most divorces in the court system, in his book, Seven Principles for Making Marriages Work, psychologist and relationship researcher John Gottman, MD, reminds us that irreconcilable differences are normal and you just have to try to come to terms with them, not try to resolve the unresolvable.

If toothpaste caps, back-seat driving, and the toilet seat are causes of contention in your marriage, you may need to consider saving the battles for big issues. Getting angry over wet towels on the floor or a TV remote is a waste of breath and energy. Be nice, stop nitpicking, and make small gestures, such as picking the dirty socks off up the floor, on a regular basis.Be Honest

Be Honest

I still remember my freshman sociology class. Our male teacher posed a series of questions to the class:

What if a female student came up to me after class to ask for help with an assignment. Is it wrong for me to meet with her? What if I was just about to grab a bite of lunch and asked her to join me? What if I didn’t mention it to my wife and a friend saw me out at lunch with a student and told my wife?

As you can imagine, the attitude of the class went quickly from “No big deal” to “Oh no he didn’t!” very quickly.

While infidelity – or perceived infidelity – is an extreme example, there are many other kinds of dishonesty that can destroy a marriage. Things like spending habits and substance abuse or addiction can cause cracks in a marriage that turn into chasms. Secrecy around these and other issues leads to creating secret lives that keep our partners out and result in a lack of intimacy.

To avoid conflict, couples sometimes deliberately misinform each other about feelings, personal history and plans. “Little white lies” turn into major issues when deception is discovered and the conflicts can be impossible to resolve. Protect your marriage from failure by practicing honesty, even about small things. Honesty and open communication are essential to a happy, healthy marriage.Laugh About It

Laugh About It

Relationship expert and author Charles Orlando names humor as one of his 12 Commandments of Happy, Long-Lasting Relationships. “Laughter makes everyone smile, feels great, and works like magic to build, maintain, or restore balance (and attraction) in your relationship.”

Laughter bonds people and humor helps us cope, not just with the trivial, but even with the tragic. Every marriage has its difficulties. When times are tough, look for the funny around you and share those moments with your spouse. After all, as preacher, Henry Ward Beecher said, “A marriage without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs – jolted by every pebble in the road.”

Don’t Give Up

Remember that a crisis does not have to mean the relationship is over. Every marriage goes through seasons of busyness and times of stress brought on by circumstances sometimes beyond our control.

During these times, it may seem as if your marriage is doomed and the easy way out is divorce. Instead, see it as a wake-up call to treat your marriage with urgency and intentionality. Think about the time you’ve invested and consider whether you can take steps, alone or together, to weather the storm.

Photo Credit: Sonnet 116 – Marriage of true minds via photopin (license)

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