One in two marriages end in divorce, according to Psychology Today. In addition, of the 50%, two-thirds stated that their marriage could have been repaired. What are the top reasons on for divorce? Finances and communication. As a marriage and family therapist, this subject is very important to me. We often look at older couples, and wonder what the trick is. I often thought this, as well, in my early stages of marriage. After 9 years of marriage and 12 years together, I have complied a list of what it takes for a marriage to be successful. Now before I begin, I want to preface by stating three things: 1. This doesn’t mean that your marriage will be perfect everyday and from time to time, you won’t want to be in each other’s presence 😜. Marriage is work, meaning you try everyday to be the best spouse you can be, just as you try to be the best boss, co worker, or parent, but expect mistakes. 2. There are a couple of things here, I did not do, because I was neither told, nor taught the importance. So it took me some time, arguments and counseling to understand what keeps a marriage successful. Lastly, longevity does not equate success. Just because you have been married 20 years, does not mean it is successful. I know people who have been married over 25 years, and just live together, and have been living separate lives for years. However, read below for my tips.
1. Premarital Counseling<<<
many of you can say that you argue more than you have civil conversations? What about “He doesn’t understand me” or “She complains about everything? ” What if I told you that effective listening is a skill that many of us do not have. Counseling teaches you the language one another, so you can listen and respond in a way that is effective. I’ll speak more on this below. But also premarital counseling gives you the opportunity to learn all of those things that you never thought to ask. These particular counselors gives assessments that covers areas such as: finances, love language, family history, and more. Many people fail to learn the important things about their significant other that can have a significant affect on their relationship and (future) family. For example, what if she has a FICO score of 480, that may make you feel some type of way. What about if his father and grandfather both were bipolar? There is a possibility that he may be bipolar or it can translate down to your children; this is a genetic mental illness. Again, premarital counseling assists you in learning what you never thought to ask. And if you cannot afford it, there is a checklist online of questions/ conversations that should be asked before you walk doesn’t the aisle.
s is the second leading cause of divorce. As stated above, communication is a skill. Just because we hear it, does not mean we know how to receive it. And just because we are delivering it, does not mean, we are delivering it in an effective manner. Women are often more emotional beings, whereas men are more rational. We want them to know, understand and solve our problems, without us having to open our mouths. And yes, there are times, when men know exactly what the problem is and how to fix it. However, many men that I have come across always state that “I don’t know what you don’t tell me.” So understand the others’ style of communication is imperative to growth. Here is another one…….when was the last time you asked your spouse if he/ she is happy with the way things are going? That simple question can save a marriage because we are so great at hiding things, or placing our focus elsewhere (work, kids, friends) that we assume things are great just because we are happy and fulfilled. I believe that checking in with your spouse on their level of happiness, every few months, will do wonders for your relationship.
3. Your Spouse Should be Your Best Friend<<<
, I said it!!! Some of you may not agree, and this okay. I have ladies in my life that I consider my closest friends, more like my sisters, but they will never have more of me than my spouse. Your spouse should be your number one supporter, provider and comforter. Sure, you have those friends that you yearly trips with, talk on the phone with at 7pm every night, and share precious moments with. But when you having a friendship within your marriage, which many people don’t have, conversations and overall happiness is better. It just improves the overall quality of your marriage.
4. Not Losing Yourself<<<
s could easily be number 2 or 3, because it happens at one point in every relationship. When most people go through a divorce or breakup, they wonder ” Who am I?” This is because we dedicate so much time and effort to our relationships with our spouse, children and work, we forget about the most important relationship: the one we have with ourself. We stop reading, painting, shopping with friends, or whatever it is that brought you joy, because we replaced that with making everyone else a priority. Always make time for the things that make you happy. If it is being home alone, tell him to take the kids for a few hours. If it is hitting the gym, or whatever it may be, carve out that time. You too are special, and you should not lose yourself to try and please others. Have your selfish moments, I promise they will be there when you get back.
Spirituality/Religion- Keep this at the center of your life and never lose site of it, if this is what your relationship is based on.
Finances: This is the leading cause of divorce. Discuss which financial route works best for your marriage. I know many people who keep separate accounts and it works for their marriage, and vice versa. But have those conversations often, so there are no surprises.
I am interested to learn: have any of these worked for you, or do you have anything to add?