How to Avoid Divorce Part 2
In my last blog post, I focused on what you as an individual can do to help avoid divorce: Do Your Part.
This post is To Both of You--my advice to couples:
1. TALK. Sit down and talk together about strengthening your marriage. Rather than trying to dig into deeper issues or past hurts, focus on positive steps you can take as a couple to stay on the best path. I am certainly not against deeper talks about issues and history, but sometimes the better strategy for couples is to focus on what you want to try, now, together, to boost and protect your marriage. Talk about how you can be there for each other--what each of you needs to feel loved. If talking about how to nudge your relationship forward works well for the two of you, I suggest you sit down and talk once a month about how to stay on course.
2. BOOST FUN AND FRIENDSHIP. People get busy, life gets strained, and spouses get distant. But it is very important to keep fun and friendship alive in your relationship. You can make that happen by following this simple advice: a) Make time for doing enjoyable things together. b) Protect those times from conflict. Have an understanding between you that issues and problems are off-limits during those times. Don't let hassles intrude on your opportunity to relax and be together.
3.IF CONFLICT RUNS HIGH.......learn to get it under control or get help in how to manage issues more constructively. If you have children, this advice goes double. Children are negatively affected by exposure to conflict between their parents. Don't fool yourself by saying you are "keeping it real" in front of the kids. Bunk. Sure, if you handle issues extremely well as a couple (e.g., with great listening, respect and resolution). that may be good for children to see. But, in general, conflict between partners--especially with escalation and invalidation--is bad for children to be around. And it's not great for you, either.
4. TAKE TIME OUTS. One strategy to keep a lid on things is to learn to take time-outs as a couple. Agree on a signal that you will both honor when things are getting heated. Agree that when either of you signal for a time-out, you'll both do your best to honor it. Taking a time-out doesn't mean avoiding dealing with something important. It just means deciding not to slide further into nastiness in the moment. You'll return to the issue when you have both cooled down It's like a sports team thar's losing control of the game and needs to take a break and get its act together.
5. DON'T THREATEN DIVORCE in the heat of frustrating arguments, which is like shouting FIRE in a crowded theater. Couples say things in the heat of the battle sometimes that should not be said: "Why did we ever marry?" "Should we just split up?" "Why don't you just move out if you feel that way?" Sensitive questions to bring you closer together, right? If you do that and you want your marriage to work, stop it. You cannot nurture the desire to invest in your future if you keep reminding each other that there might not be one. Don't talk about divorce unless you really mean to talk about divorce. Otherwise, take a time-out.
6. GET PROFESSIONAL HELP. Obviously, some people become deeply unhappy in their marriages. There is plenty of research indicating that those who become deeply maritally distressed are unlikely to get better on their own. If you have sunk into chronic unhappiness in your marriage, think about getting help.
Most couples in serious trouble wait far too long to get professional help. Because there is so much bitterness, resentment and emotional detachment, healing their marriage can be doubly difficult. If both of you know something is seriously amiss, seek help now. Good things can result from seeing a skilled counselor with whom both of you feel comfortable.
HOPE.........A few married couples almost never have any downs--only ups. But most couples with very good marriages have ups and downs. That's normal. One of the most important things you can do to avoid divorce is to hold reasonable expectations. You didn't marry someone who is perfect (only your mate did--ha ha!). Expect joy and strains, maddening moments and laughter. Expect a real life.
For further inquiries:
Check out Jim Covington, marriage counselor, at https://www.marriagecounselormanhattan.com
Phone: (917) 656- 4363