Therapist and counselor Waverly Hanson shares some tips on how to enjoy a marriage that lasts
There are many things that can go wrong in a marriage, and they are usually at least partially the fault of both parties involved. While some people say its impossible to divorce-proof a marriage, many experts would disagree.
In most cases, a marriage can be saved when both parties are willing to make the effort. Here are five tips to help you avoid some of the big problems that can lead to a marriage ending:
1. Do not marry someone you're not compatible with
Sometimes people get married without thinking about how different they really are. While minor differences are not necessarily a deal breaker, if you and your potential spouse differ in the major areas of life (such as your moral code or true inner convictions) the relationship is not going to be set up to last.
If you desperately want children and your mate absolutely does not, someone has to compromise in order to make the marriage work. If you are deeply religious and your mate is an atheist, principal differences will arise about how you live your lives and raise any future children. People generally do not change once they are older, so it’s important to make sure you agree on things that are most important now, before getting married.
2. Take therapy seriously
A marriage counselor can help you to get to the root of problems. The key to making this work for both of you is to take whatever is said seriously. Even if you think that your partner has concerns that are not a big deal, listen because the person you love obviously thinks the issues are bad enough to go to counseling about.
Professional counseling provides couples with many different strategies that they can use not only to overcome the issue at hand but to help in dealing with future problems. You will learn about open ended questions, working through conflict without getting into a screaming match and even how to answer back when a question is answered. Therapy also offers a neutral territory where no one will feel judged or blamed. It can be an effective tool for even the healthiest of couples.
3. Disagree well
Some disagreements are going to come up in any relationship, and you have to know how to deal with them properly. If you find yourself unproductively arguing with your partner, be the bigger person and tell them you are going to walk away from the argument until you both can be more rational, communicate and work things out.
Emotions can be high at first, so sometimes it is a good idea to give each other a break as you collect yourselves for a talk later.
4. Agree your finances
What one of you does with money affects the other person in the marriage. That's why you both need to know what is going on with your finances, and you have to figure out if you are comfortable with who brings in the money and how it is spent or saved.
You may want to hold meetings with your spouse once a month or every other week to discuss finances. Create a budget together, talk about how much is going into savings, what you are saving for and make plans for any incidental expenses that may come up throughout the month. While you may not agree on every point in the budget, it is important to get on the same page in general, and take the time to hear your partner out in order to reach a compromise about money matters.
5. Divide responsibilities fairly
One person should not have to do all of the housework. You have to both pitch in, or one of you is going to feel overwhelmed and underappreciated. If one of you does not have a job, then that person might handle more of the household chores or child rearing responsibilities. If there are problems with your children getting sick where they need you with them all day, you can trade off with your partner every other time. Always work together and seek to share the load.
Waverly Hanson is the author of How to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage. She has been assisting individuals and couples with relationship and life transformations for more than 25 years as a therapist, counselor, coach and consultant. Click here to learn more.