3 Tips to Divorce-Proof your Marriage

in Marriage Tips

divorce-proof your marriage
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In my last post, I asked you 7 questions to evaluate the strength of your marriage. I hope you went through those questions and took time to answer. I also hope that most of your answers are “negative”. However, if you happened to answer mostly with an affirmative, fret not, there is a fix and your marriage need not end up in divorce.

As you must have known, I’ve been married only for six months. I’m neither a relationship expert nor a divorce survivor with banks of experiences to draw my advice from. In fact, I created this blog immediately after my wedding for the sole purpose of documenting what I learn as I and my husband navigate in our marriage. I’m a student who’s learning diligently about this art because I’m committed to divorce proof my marriage. I learn from those ahead of me, who learned quite enough to impart wisdom on how to succeed in marriage. Here are three lessons I learned on how to divorce proof a marriage.

1. Focus on your spouse’s good qualities – I learned from my mom

I met this advice in a lot of relationship books, delivered in different ways but with the same thought – focus on your spouse’s good side. However, none of those books and writers has made that much impact on me as my mom had.

During our wedding reception, each of our parents was given a chance to speak. My mother-in-law, my mom and my father gave us their congratulations, good wishes and some advice (parents never fail to give sound advice). Anyone who was a bride knows that there are just too many good things to absorb all in a day so that a lot of speeches from friends, parents and relatives are mostly left floating in the air. All you know is that it’s your wedding day. It’s a good thing to replay the video afterwards, when all excitement and stress have gone down, and you are able to concentrate on every detail.

But I need not replay the video as my mom’s words stuck in my head and kept ringing in my ears that night while I and hubby headed back to our hotel after the wedding party.

“You are only on the first stage of your journey together. Along the way, you will encounter challenges, big and small, that will shake your love for each other. There will be times when you are tempted to give up on each other, but the only way to survive is to focus on your spouse’s good side. Always think of what is good on your partner, dwell your thoughts on them, and they will defeat all the negatives.”

How simple is that? Focus on your spouse’s good side to divorce-proof your marriage.

See: Look on your spouse’s good side – how to apply positive attitude in marriage

2. Recognize the three killers of marriage and eradicate them – I learned from Paul Friendman

Paul Friedman is a relationship adviser whose main goal is to help couple avoid divorce. A divorce survivor himself, he’d been through what he calls a “degrading” process of divorce which he believes is completely avoidable. Instead of teaching couples on how to transition from married to divorce life, he teaches couples on how to improve a bad marriage into a better one, ruling out divorce.

In his book “Lessons for a Happy Marriage”, downloadable for free, Friedman identified three killers of a happy marriage. These killers are not new to me; in fact, a lot of marriage books I’ve read blame the same killers for good marriages gone bad. But what draws me about the way Paul discusses these three detrimental elements in marriage is that, he learned them the hard way.

Killer #1: Over familiarity

Oftentimes, we act our best in front of our guests but in front of our spouse, we are less courteous. That’s because of too much familiarity. We feel that we know our partner well enough, and that he/she knows us enough, that a little discourtesy here and there is fine. Paul pointed out in his book, that these tiny “slapping on the face while smiling” behaviors are not the deadliest killers but they are the biggest root of most hurting marriages.

Just recently, a new wife as I am, I became over familiar so soon. I saw my husband’s facebook profile photo changed into something that I didn’t like. He chose a photo of us with me looking not pretty (at least that’s what I think of the photo but hubby thinks it’s pretty). Unable to wait until my husband comes home, I logged into his account (yes, I know his password) and changed his profile photo with something that I liked. I intended to tell him about it when he gets home but he discovered it even before I was able to do so. He was upset. He explained why he’s not happy about it and I knew I was wrong. I apologized and promised not to repeat it.

Over familiarity = No respect. There are many ways to do it and most of us are guilty of it. We better start, if not continue, respecting our spouse.

Killer #2: Poor Communication

A good speaker is a good listener. This is one of the fundamental rules that I teach my debaters during debate training. “Listen properly to the arguments of your opposition, write down the key points, and rebut them by expressing why you don’t agree with them and by pointing out their flaws. Offer your alternative solution and prove why it’s better by citing its strengths and defend your arguments with all your might.” Debaters follow a strict time limit whenever they get to speak. Each is allotted a specific time for constructed speeches as well as for interrogations. They follow the rule “Your right ends when my right begins.”

If a couple can follow the debating rules in terms of taking turns to speak and observing when their right ends, and if they can apply the debaters’ effective listening techniques, they will surely become good communicators.

However, debaters are wired to defend their side no matter what. They’re not supposed to accept defeat and they must never in anyway, agree with their opposition. Their job is clash against. Amazingly, this is where most couples are good at. Arguing over and over again and refusing to meet in the middle.

If spouses argue all for the sake of winning, nothing will come out healthy. Unlike debaters, couples are supposed to discuss and meet in the middle, drawing conclusions together or coming up with compromises. But this certainly is easier said than done. It’s easier for women to nag and for men to be insensitive – the fast way to break down good communication.

Killer #3: “Business arrangement” mentality

A husband and a wife’s role in marriage vary between countries, cultures and situations. For some, women are supposed to only stay at home and do the house chores while men provide for the family. To some, women are expected to get a job and contribute to the family’s income. Whatever role each spouse play, it’s important that there’s a clear communication and there’s a fair give and take relationship. Should the husband change diapers too? Should there be a division of labor? Does it have to be 50-50 sharing all the time? Should I cook your meal if and only if you mop the floor?

Kiesha of a Mexican-American intercultural marriage says that in marriage, there are different seasons. Sometimes it’s 70/30, sometimes 60/40 or 30/70. It’s important that you are there to support each other.

3. Do not indulge in three-some marriage – I learned from news, books and stories around me

When Princes Diana was asked about the reason of her divorce with Prince Charles she said, “There were three of us in that marriage and it got crowded.”

A lot of relationships and marriages are destroyed because of affairs and infidelity. Dissatisfaction, boredom and the thrill of a new girl-friend smell are common drivers of extra-marital affairs. While some people are able to get away with it, enjoying the thrill and slipping back quietly to their marriage when the passion of the affair dies out, most people aren’t. Stinky smell rarely gets completely wrapped. Arnold Swarchenegger’s current infidelity scandal is a perfect example.

God forcefully ordered “Thou shall not commit adultery.” He’s plan is marriage only for two people, husband and wife. He never intended marriage to be three-some or worse, ultra-polygamous.

A marriage that’s plague with infidelity rarely survives, well, unless you’re Hilary Clinton. Even Tiger Wood’s money couldn’t purchase his marriage back. A trust that’s ruined by extramarital affairs is extremely difficult to restore.

Divorce-proof your marriage by staying committed, loyal and honest to your spouse.

How about you? How do you divorce proof your marriage?

photo by Pam&Mark

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WhiteBhabi

I got a little intrigued by the “3 of us” in the marriage comment. I couldn’t help but first be led to think she was referring to the queen. Sadly, another marriage killer in that same category would be if there was a meddling third party as a lot of inter-cultural girls see. Usually it’s the mother, but not always. Sometimes in relationships one spouse can take the advice (whether loving, vindictive, manipulative or else) of a relative over their spouse and not consider their spouses feelings or thoughts. A marriage is between two ppl. While there is nothing wrong with taking advice, the 3rd person should never be a predominant deciding factor in anything between your spouse and yourself.

*In every religion I’ve ever encountered they specifically mention that the man and woman are bonded together/become one when married. I don’t ever recall it saying that a man or woman should always adhere to their parents and the three be joined together. We can be respectful of our parents and their thoughts and feelings, but they can never possibly know exactly what is best for our relationships.

Glee

Hello White Bhabi,

I too believe that once husband and wife are bonded together by marriage matrimony, they have to put each other first in rank. They may consul their parents for advice in some matters that need wisdom, however, the ultimate decision must come from both of them.

I could just imagine how difficult it’d be to be married to a prince. Sure, you’ll be a princess, yet, unless your prince become king, most of your decisions will be subject to the approval of the Queen or the King. It applies even to as simple as eating. Even if you’re not full yet, once the Queen put down her spoon, you’ll have to stop eating. 😉

However, the comment of Diana about “three of us in marriage” I believe it referred to the third party. It’s been know that Prince Charles never gotten over his love for Camille, and even while he was married to Diana, he was having an affair with Camille which lead to the break down of Diana’s marriage.

The third tip “Do not indulge in three-some marriage” can also be interpreted as “be true to your spouse”.

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