Just as every responsible parent sets out to child-proof the home once you have kids, every couple should also think about what can be done to divorce-proof their marriage. Whilst neither child-proofing your house nor divorce-proofing your marriage can guarantee that you will never have an accident or an unhappy marriage, it can still improve your chances at both.
First and foremost, you need to put your marriage and your relationship with your spouse above all other relationships in your life. Being unfaithful is a symptom of and not the actual cause of a breakdown in a marriage. Unfaithfulness is a sign that you do not value your spouse or your family. So, centre yourself and ensure that your spouse is at the heart of who you are as a person too.
Share Your Dreams
People grow apart when they start to have different dreams and aspirations for the future. When you stop sharing your dreams and discussing what you want your future to look like, or when your future doesn’t seem to include your spouse or your family, then you will start to grow apart as individuals and the marriage that you have built will cease to be relevant.
Values determine how you will make decisions and what you will prioritise in your lives together. When you no longer share the same values, you will begin to see the world from a different perspective. This will result in major disagreements and the dissolution of your marriage. Whilst most people are willing to adjust their expectations and make sacrifices, they will be unable to compromise their value systems without feeling that they have lost a significant aspect of who they are as individuals.
Surround Yourselves with Positive Relationships
Make friends with couples who are in strong and loving relationships. They might be your friends, or they might even be your parents, in-laws and relatives. When you surround yourself with people who are secure in what they have and who value their families and their marriages, you give yourself a support network. They will remind you of the reasons why you want your marriage to work and they will be able to provide advice and emotional support to you in your time apart from your spouse.
Agree on Your Financial Priorities
Money can make bad things seem worse. When you disagree about how to manage your finances and what expenses should be a priority for your family, then you begin to create an environment where frustration, resentment and respect begin to suffer. Don’t let this happen. Agree on your financial priorities, build a plan and stick to it whether you are apart or together.
Agree on How You Will Raise Your Kids
This is yet another area of conflict. This happens when you and your spouse have different parenting styles. You may still be able to maintain a degree of balance as you will play off each other’s styles and your children might grow up influenced in complementary ways by both of you.
But what happens when you have different styles and approaches, but they are in direct conflict with each other? In this situation, one parent will tend to dominate or you will be in a deadlock and in constant disagreement with each other. You need to be sensitive to this possible conflict and agree on the approaches you will take. Discuss what types of problems your spouse should talk about with you first and agree that there must be some situations where a joint decision needs to be made by both parents.
If You Need it, Seek Help
If you find that you and your spouse are unable to agree and resolve your difference amicably, or if you just don’t even know how to begin the process, seek help from a professional counsellor. They will be able to mediate more effectively and encourage positive conflict resolution behaviours. You will benefit from their experience and advice in addressing your issues.
Divorce-proof your marriage by ensuring that you continue to share the same values, aspirations and dreams about your future together.
Make your relationship with your spouse and your children the most important relationships in your life.
Seek professional help when you need it and always surround yourself with a network of other couples in loving and positive relationships.