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.
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
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.
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