Eleven Secrets for a Divorce-Proof Marriage
Gayle Crist, M.S., is a life coach and divorce support coach in Doylestown.
I read a fascinating article recently by a divorce attorney who listed the marital problems he’s seen over the years that have led generally happy couples to split up.
Here are 11 pieces of advice he gave to help couples avoid divorce, and I think they apply to everyone interested in nurturing a healthy long-term partnership:
- Tolerate your partner’s quirks – Sustaining a marriage is less about love and more about tolerance. Whatever quirks your partner has when you first meet aren’t going to change, improve, or wane with time; they’ll only magnify. So, if you can’t tolerate it today, you aren’t going to be able to tolerate it tomorrow. Tolerance isn’t romantic, but it’s essential for a lasting relationship.
- Give your partner the benefit of the doubt – Often, spouses assume their partner has bad motives for everything he/she does. This leads to resentment. It’s far better to assume your partner’s intentions are generally good, even if his/her methods aren’t.
- Make your partner feel special – Everybody wants to feel sexy, attractive, and special. Divorce attorneys see countless couples who split up due to infi delity because someone outside the marriage showed one partner the attention and affection he/she wasn’t getting at home. Giving your partner the type of attention that makes him/her feel heard, understood, and loved on a regular basis is crucial to relationship success.
- Put your partner first – Many couples divorce because they allow themselves to drift apart over the years. It’s easy to focus more on the children, the house, jobs, and outside activities than on our partners. Though many people believe the kids should come first, if they don’t put their partner first, the marriage eventually falters and creates a “broken home” (which, of course, is traumatic for children).
- Don’t wait until it’s too late to work on your relationship – If you wait until there’s a problem, it could be too late. Working on your relationship while it’s still got a good, solid foundation is key. This doesn’t have to mean counseling; it can be as simple as having a set “date night” once a month. How true! I remember going to counseling when my fi rst marriage was fl oundering and discovering we had no foundation of love left on which to rebuild because we had let our connection slip away.
- Choose the right time to discuss something important – If you need to make a request, decision, criticism, or apology, do so when your partner is open to listening and talking. Ask yourself if this is the most constructive setting for your partner to hear what you need to discuss. Attorneys hear many stories from clients who tried accomplishing something important regardless of the other person’s readiness to engage in the conversation and then were shocked that they were rebuffed. Choose a time when your partner is relaxed and unrushed if you need to have a serious discussion.
- Understand that you can’t change your partner – One of the biggest mistakes women make is thinking they can change a man’s behaviors. We are who we are, and acceptance of your partner is imperative. We all want to feel loved just the way we are…and giving that gift to your partner is key to relationship success.
- Show your love in little ways – Make the effort to nurture your relationship by continuing to do the types of special things you did while dating. Plan special outings. Speak one another’s love languages. Give an unexpected massage. Send a love letter, poem, or fl owers for no reason. These romantic gestures go a long way in cementing your bond of emotional intimacy.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate! A lack of regular communication is the cause of most breakups. Complaints about money, sex, or “growing apart” are just symptoms of a deeper need… to set aside time to talk about what’s going on with each partner, to communicate real feelings, and to be authentic and vulnerable with each other.
- Be an active listener – Really listen to your partner during an argument. Try to understand his/her point of view. Acknowledge his/her feelings, validate his/her opinion, and try to empathize. This shows him/her you really care and want to resolve the issue and make your relationship stronger.
- Don’t think a 2nd or 3rd marriage will be easier – Divorce attorneys always have to remind clients that marriage takes effort, and just changing partners doesn’t mean marriage will get easier. If you can’t or aren’t willing to do the work, don’t get married.
Does any of this ring true in your relationship? It certainly does for me and for the separated and divorcing people I coach. If more of us took these 11 tips to heart, we’d all have happier partnerships (and I’d have less clients). I’m OK with that if it means more peace in the world!
Gayle Crist, M.S., is a life coach and divorce support coach in Doylestown. She helps people balance their personal & professional lives, navigate life transitions such as separation/divorce and job layoff, start a business, or write their first book. Gayle is the author of How I Met My Second Husband Online at Age 50. Information about her life coaching services is at www.healthylifeplanning.com. Contact her at 215-489-0225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.