Our attorneys help to dismantle marriages on a daily basis. What better way to see and hear firsthand what leads so many married couples to divorce, and to understand what might have prevented it? Here are some things to keep in mind if you are considering getting married or struggling in your married life.
It’s a no-brainer that talking openly about your feelings on money, children, and relationships from the beginning will lead to a healthier relationship. But we are human, and it’s easy to let yourself simmer over your spouse’s lack of help around the house or frivolous (to you) spending instead of sharing what’s on your mind. Try and set a time to really talk — and listen without judgment — when both of you are in a good frame of mind.
2. Be Willing to Work at It
Everyone seems to agree that it takes work to keep a marriage going. But many spouses keep waiting for a magic solution to their marriage problems. You can disguise the work as “play” — plan to watch a movie at home or go out for dinner or coffee one night each week. If trying to schedule a date creates more stress, think small. A supportive text message for no reason or offering to run an errand for your spouse can speak volumes.
3. Look in the Mirror
Often, out of anger, parties involved in a divorce are quick to blame their marital problems on their spouse. Before accusing, do some self-reflecting. What can I do differently to make this work? How can I “spice” things up? Or how can I be more supportive?
4. Practice Tolerance
This is something to consider long before you say “I do.” Does your partner’s constant humming put you a little on edge? Don’t expect them to suddenly stop after you have entered wedded bliss. Everyone has their quirks and pet peeves, and these can change as we grow older together in a marriage. Respect each other’s tolerance level for certain behaviors, and try to change how you respond to the things that annoy you.
5. Don’t Force Change
We just suggested that married couples change how they respond to each other — but don’t expect your spouse to change. Before you decide to get married, ask yourself if you truly love your partner as they are. Don’t plan your life together with the hope that they will grow into a different person.
6. Make Financial Plans
Fighting about money is a root cause in many divorce cases that we handle. Deciding before you get married if you will have separate or joint bank accounts and investments is a good place to start, as well as taking the time to plan a budget. As your married life continues, keep regular communication going about changes in your income, planning for retirement, and other ways you would like to use your money.
7. Find Common Interests
By the time couples find themselves meeting with a divorce attorney, they are often living separate lives. Healthy relationships, for most people, stem from at least a few shared interests. Even if it is an activity involving your children, enjoying the same sport or hobby naturally strengthens bonds.
8. Practice Flattery
If you are married with children, it’s easy for one or both parents to focus all of their attention on the kids’ needs and ignore their spouse. Think of all of the positive reinforcement and compliments you give to your children, and don’t be afraid to do the same for your spouse. Don’t just be on the “parent team”, practice being on each other’s team.
9. Be Smart on Social Media
Everyone can scrutinize other people’s personal relationships these days through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. That’s not a bad thing if you share your appreciation for your spouse for all to see. But think about your partner’s feelings before you post photos or stories that could lead to embarrassment. You might want to think twice, as well, before you start looking up old flames on Facebook. Is reconnecting with someone from the past going to contribute anything positive to you current relationship?
10. Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late
By nature of our jobs, divorce lawyers see couples when they are beyond any kind of help from a marriage counselor. Counseling can become a regular part of a healthy marriage, as a way to avoid a break-up.