It may seem odd to seek marriage advice from people who professionally help marriages dissolve, but divorce lawyers see it all. Just think about it: There’s nothing quite like dividing all of one’s possessions and money to make the deepest feelings bubble to the surface. Divorce lawyers hear about the good, the bad, and the ugly of marriages, including the sordid details even friends and family go without for years. Armed with this “insider knowledge” it’s no wonder that the media often seek out divorce lawyers’ advice about relationships in general.
By seeing all the common pitfalls of the modern marriage, could lawyers know the true secrets to making them last?
Today, we’ll look at what lawyers say are the common pitfalls of divorcing couples, as well as what they think might keep a couple happily married. In fact, some of the answers might surprise you! From the pragmatic to the emotional, let’s delve into the divorce lawyers’ guide to stay married forever.
15. Get a Prenup
Let’s begin with what might be the most obvious legal advice you could get regarding marriage: a prenuptial agreement. Not only do prenups allow divorces to get less messy, but they can actually help protect your marriage. In fact, most prenuptial agreements are actually put in place and devised to protect your marriage, not predict a break-up. Divorce lawyers see the process of getting a prenup done a protective factor, too. Being realistic with expectations, honest about money, income and possessions, and sharing with your partner are all positive additions to your relationship. So, next time says getting a prenup is “predicting a divorce,” you can tell them that divorce lawyers would say the opposite!
14. Know Why People Divorce
Part of the reason divorce lawyers can give great marriage advice is because they know what not to do. By understanding and learning about the most common pitfalls of American marriage, divorce lawyers can nurture what’s good in the relationship and avoid those traps. In general, the most common reasons for divorcing have to do with money, sex, and religion. Addressing those issues and planning for any discrepancies before marriage, or before someone is unhappy, is a great way to avoid these fault lines down the road. It doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything, but it does mean you have to compromise and most importantly… be honest with one another.
13. A Lack of Divorce Does Not Indicate a Lack of Problems
It’s easy for people to assume that unhappily married people get divorced. However, many unhappily married people are just that: Married. Divorce lawyers meet with couples during most stages of divorce, from the early separation to post-divorce, the lawyers can see the entire progress. Many couples who separate and begin the divorce process end up changing their mind and staying married. What divorce lawyers want you to know, is that that does not mean that those couples are any happier than the couple going through with divorce. In fact, it might be quite the opposite: Hopeless people may not be confident enough to make a change and may stay in an unhappy marriage for years.
12. Cheating Does Not Often Cause Divorces
Divorce lawyers know some of the salacious cheating stories in the world. However, divorce lawyers also know that cheating isn’t usually a main contributor in a divorce. Instead, cheating is most often a symptom of a greater underlying issue. Think of cheating like a headache. If you have a headache, you probably will not go see your physician. However, if you were in a car accident and have a headache the day following, you may want to go see your physician to make sure there isn’t a deeper cause. Cheating is like the headache, but the real reason for the divorce would be the car accident. Whether it’s sex, money, religion, or something else, that’s where the true problems lie.
11. Honesty is Always the Best Policy
Divorce lawyers know how important trust is in a relationship. Divorce lawyers have to establish trust with their clients every day. This trust is what allows clients to open up to them so that divorce lawyers can as helpful as possible. The same is true in relationships. If one or both partners lie to each other, it can be very difficult to trust one another. Without trust, it is easy to drift apart and be living separate lives. What can you do to prevent this from occurring? Be honest from day one. Set the precedent of complete honesty and vulnerability in your relationship, so that lying and deceit does not become the norm.
10. Don’t Threaten With the “D-word”
Want to know a quick way to put out the flame in your marriage? Keep bringing up divorce. While it’s healthy to understand that not all relationships last forever, and that’s okay, it is unhealthy to make your partner feel threatened. Divorce lawyers suggest waiting at least eighteen months before filing for a divorce, because they understand that all healthy relationships can ebb and flow. If you think you may be ready for a divorce, consider talking to your partner about what you can do to strengthen your partnership and reconnect, instead of threatening to legally cut it apart indefinitely.
9. Communication is Key
This may not be groundbreaking relationship advice, but it’s famous for a reason: Communicate, communicate, communicate! If you’ve been unhappy for months, but haven’t told your partner, how do you expect them to help? Similarly, if you’ve been happy for months, but not telling your partner, how do you expect them to know what’s working? Share your experiences with your partner, even when it’s difficult. Divorce lawyers cite communication breakdown not only as a stressor on a marriage, but also as a contributing factor to being unable to reconcile. All marriages encounter rough spots, but communication can be what helps you get out of them.
8. Marriage is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Divorce lawyers say this is especially key for people entering second or third marriages to understand: Marriages are work, and the work doesn’t end. While half of first marriages end in divorce, that statistic skyrockets for subsequent marriages. Divorce lawyers say that can be because people remarry the second time thinking that this time it will be different, it won’t be “work,” only to give up even more quickly when the tough stuff happens. Divorce lawyers want all engaged couples to know that marriage doesn’t end problems, it actually creates them, and if you’re not okay with that in the long-run, it may not be the right choice for you.
7. Fight Fair
Divorce lawyers don’t cite not fighting as a protective factor in a marriage, but instead say fighting fair is what truly helps. Fighting fair allows partners to express disappointment, shame, and anger in a safe, comfortable environment. It means both partners feel heard, understood, and listened to, even when they’re upset. It also means that both partners are allowed to express feelings freely, without second-guessing if the other person will respect them or not. When it comes to fighting, try these tips: Speak in an even tone, do not place blame, listen, compromise, and move on.
6. Stay Social
Divorce lawyers see it all the time: Couples who left their respective friends and family to devote their entire lives to the marriage and partnership. Then, over time, the two people in the marriage may begin to feel lonely, isolated, or resentful that they sacrificed so much in the marriage. In order to avoid this from happening, be sure to maintain healthy friendships outside of the marriage. It is not fair to expect one person to be your only source of friendship for the rest of your life and it can lead to long-term problems. Let your partner be your partner, your family be your family, and your friends be your friends. No one person should have to be all three at all times.
5. Spend Time Apart
While divorce lawyers cannot cite a proper percentage of time to spend together and apart for a “happy marriage,” they do say that time part is supremely important. For some couples, this might mean weeks apart for work trips or friend vacations on a regular basis. For others, it might mean leaving each other for a few hours every week. Regardless, be sure to have hobbies and activities you enjoy doing without your partner and do make an effort to maintain those throughout your marriage. Divorce lawyers see many wives and husbands say they “lost themselves” in their marriage and need a divorce to “rediscover what makes them happy.” Their advice? Never stop doing what makes you happy in the first place!
4. Make Time for Each Other
Just as it’s important for you to nurture your own interests and friendships, it’s laos important for you to prioritize your partner. We all know that life gets busy: Your week can be a blur of work, housework, errands, child-rearing, taking care of pets, visiting parents, and so on. When this happens, the passionate spark that made you love your partner in the first place can become dim. Divorce lawyers suggest finding meaningful time together every week, to make sure you reconnect as a couple, not just as roommates or parents. Your marriage will thank you (by remaining in tact!).
3. See a Therapist
We see it in movies all the time: An unhappy couple is divorcing and using their lawyer as a sort of pseudo-therapist. What divorce lawyers would prefer is that you actually go see a real therapist before considering filing for divorce at all! So many people view therapy as a “last resort” before divorce, but attending therapy through the stages of your marriage can help you learn better communication and arguing skills before things spin out of control. Allow therapy to protect your marriage, not define it. As a bonus, the skills you learn in couples’ therapy can also help you become a better parent, friend, teacher, and colleague.
2. Ask for What You Need
Or, in other terms: “Fixed what can be fixed.” If it drives you crazy that your partner never takes the trash out, ask them if they wouldn’t mind taking the trash out. If you wish your partner would accept your affection more, tell them that you feel hurt when they brush off your hugs or back rubs. These small changes do big things: They acknowledge your feelings, share them with your partner, and suggest a solution. If you can implement this solution for small everyday problems, divorce lawyers suggest that you’ll be better off when it comes to solving the big hurdles that come your way. Let “fix what can be fixed” become your daily mantra and let the small stuff roll off your back.
1. Everyone’s Different
Out of all fifteen pieces of advice, let this be the one you remember most: There is no one way to have a good marriage. Divorce lawyers will tell you that every divorce is different, every marriage is different, and every couple is different. What works in your parents’ marriage may not works for yours and, just because your neighbors are happily married, doesn’t mean you need to take their relationship advice. Be honest with yourself about your happiness and what you need from relationships and encourage your partner to do the same. Keep communicating,
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