Marriage advice from divorce experts?
Who would think to take marriage advice from a divorce expert?. Surprisingly, divorce attorneys have excellent marriage advice. Perhaps it’s easier to verbalize the things that don’t work, versus the things that do work. So, you’ll get a little of both in this article.
My preference is for you to enter a marriage that is healthy, and lasts for a lifetime. What’s the secret for success for a lasting marriage? I don’t issue guarantees, but I think asking your partner critical questions can help. The answers to these questions can help you decide whether or not to enter into a marriage in the first place or not. Don’t just get married because you want to have a baby. Or, because your mother is pressuring you. Wait until you have the right ingredients, and then bake the cake.
10 questions to ask your partner before tying the knot
This leading divorce attorney in the UK came up with these critical questions to ask your honey-bun prior to walking down the aisle. This came from a leading divorce attorney in the UK.
- Are my partner and I a ‘good fit’?
- Do we have a strong basis of friendship?
- Do we want the same things in our relationship and out of life?
- Are our expectations realistic?
- Do we generally see the best in each other?
- Do we both work at keeping our relationship vibrant?
- Do we both feel we can discuss things freely and raise issues with each other?
- Are we both committed to working through hard times?
- When we face stressful circumstances would we pull together to get through it?
- Do we each have supportive others around us?
Why bother asking these questions?
What are the purpose of these questions? It’s to learn the true colors or your partner. It’s to identify their expectations, and communicate your expectations. Once you gather this data, then it’s time to analyze it. Is this the partner you want to have for life?
Why relationships breakdown
Let’s revisit the advice of the divorce lawyers. The University of Exeter, in England, conducted research among divorce lawyers and judges to identify four common reasons for relationships to breakdown.
- Unrealistic expectations
- Failure to deal with issues
- Failure to nurture the relationship or a lack of relationship skills
10 things to avoid if you want to save your marriage
Let’s dig deeper into the nitty gritty stuff that you should avoid, or quit, in order to make your marriage last. Here are my top 10 recommendations:
- Sweeping uncomfortable money issues under the rug
- Letting one person dominate the relationship
- One spouse controls all the money and is secretive or possessive about it
- One spouse carries the full load of the children-duties
- Withholding sex
- One spouse doing all the housework and running all the errands
- Unequal social life between spouses (one spouse might want to go out all the time, the other wants to stay home)
- Jealousy (or controlling of the other’s time and activities)
- Letting one’s appearance go.
- Nagging & complaining
The keys to a lasting marriage
The same University of Exeter also surveyed couples in healthy relationships. Here is their advice:
Choosing carefully: Many of the thriving married couples were ‘friends first’ with intimate relationships developing slowly. They had thought carefully about formalising their relationship.
Underlying friendship: This had helped couples through harrowing life events such as bereavement or an affair. Separated couples’ relationships often lacked a firm foundation of mutual friendship.
Being realistic: Couples in thriving relationships in both samples had realistic expectations of marriage and relationships, shaped by examples they had seen through the marriages of their parents or other family members. They knew it would not all be plain sailing, expected to have to work at their relationships and were open to professional help if needed. They had aligned values, hopes, dreams and expectations of the other and of the relationship.
Seeing the best: Partners in thriving relationships love compassionately and make allowances for the other’s shortcomings. Compassionate love can grow over time.
Working at it: Overwhelmingly, couples in thriving relationships accepted the need to ‘work at’ their relationships but such work is not ‘hard work’ provided couples are a ‘good fit’. Couples in thriving relationships were creative and intentional both about carving out time as a couple and about ensuring that each had time apart to spend with friends and pursuing individual interests. They showed they cared in the daily rituals and small regular acts of thoughtfulness that communicated appreciation in ways that were meaningful to their partner.
Being committed: Commitment to the relationship, but not necessarily to the institution of marriage, is a prerequisite of thriving couples.
Keep talking: Thriving couples carved out time to talk about the minutiae of the day or deeper level issues as needed and this open communication fuelled intimacy.
Building the relationship that suits you both: Couples in thriving relationships built the relationship that suited them, often defying cultural or societal norms to do so. There is no one ‘right’ thriving relationship.
Adapting to change: An ability to adapt to change seemed to stem from a strong team mentality and was essential to thriving relationships. When couples pulled together during periods of adversity, they often report a strengthening of the relationship as a result.
Building a support network: Close, supportive networks of family and friends enriched the lives of couples across the spectrum of family forms. Women, in particular, drew substantial support from their mothers, sisters and/ or girlfriends.
Full disclosure: I am divorced. So, I can’t say with certainty that if you avoid these things, you will save your marriage. However, I know from personal experience that if you if you don’t avoid them, divorce may be inevitable.
What being single is teaching me about marriage
I have been single for six years now. While the first three years were crummey, as I healed from the heartbreak of divorce, the last three years have been the best years of my life. I am learning to be happy by my own doing. It’s self-sufficient happiness.
In my old life, I looked for someone else to help make me happy. I yearned for attention, affection, affirmation from a man. Being single has taught me to not need that from someone else. I can give it to myself.
Know that you are beautiful, inside and out. Know that you are loved. Know that you are talented, and full of potential.
Focus on being the best version of you. Don’t rely on your spouse to fill your love-cup. I hope your spouse does treat you like a princess (or prince), but don’t “need” something from them so badly that it puts you off your game if you don’t get it. Be self-sufficient in your happiness. Then your spouse is free from pressure. Isn’t that what you want, as well?
Wishing you a lifetime in happy marriage,