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Tis the season to be jolly, but, we address a slightly more morose topic for a reason. Divorce Day will soon be upon us once again. It is the first working Monday of every year and gets its name due to a surge in divorce applications.
As a divorce lawyer, I have assisted in hundreds of divorce cases over the years. Whilst there is no formula or cure for a successful relationship, there are a few commonalities that I see frequently. I feel that at least that gives me some kind of insight into the problems that lead to breakdown, which could, potentially, help you to “divorce proof” yours.
Here are three things that I hear about on a regular basis:
1 The grass isn’t always greener
First, let’s address the elephant in the room. A common reason for divorce is infidelity. I’ve seen many spouses at my office and to me there is an obvious connection between the loss of interest by a spouse and the appeal of having an affair. All I can say is, try and remember what your relationship was like when you first met. Try and remember the reasons you were first attracted to each other – and try to remember the grass isn’t always greener, and could in fact be laced with moss and weeds.
Some couples have tried to convince me they are better off without each other. But, in some cases of infidelity, it can be easier emotionally to break off the marriage instead of trying to understand the reasons behind the affair. This is entirely down to the individual of course, but in some cases, rekindling some of the reasons why you got together in the first place can help some couples look past the troubling times. It can also help prevent infidelity from occurring in the first place.
2 Equity – not equality
How hard is it to be kind? How hard is it to be supportive and loving, even when it isn’t technically required? More so than you might think – and believe it or not is one of the main reasons that bring people into my office, because, at some point, someone started keeping strict score.
Whilst it may be difficult for some of us to admit, the most successful partnerships are based on one partner having a strength in areas where the other partner is weak, and vice versa and often compliment each other. Therefore, total equality is not the goal here, more the give and take – or the equity.
Don’t try to win the “who’s had a more stressful day” competition, by pointing out how equally or much more stressful your day was. If one of you is feeling awful, taking steps to make sure the other is feeling equally awful isn’t going to help. Instead, extend a kindness or a compliment. Let your own needs take a back seat from time to time and you might just find you save yourself from separation.
3 Be each other’s therapist – not critic
Despite what we think as a culture, it is simply not possible to get everything right, all of the time – even your spouse. They have not “failed” you because they’ve not met all your requirements, 100% of the time. No marriage is perfect, but realising you have a spouse who meets many of your needs much of the time is a massive win. Instead of criticising one another, which ultimately leads to bad feelings and eventually to a separation, try giving your spouse the kind of selfless support and encouragement you would extend to a close friend. You might find they are more willing to open up to you and communication is definitely the key to a happy marriage.
Next year, Divorce Day is on 7 January 2019 – but there are a number of common occurrences that cause people to come to my office. Maybe by sharing some of these, we could “divorce-proof” a few more marriages.
However, if you would like some advice relating to your own separation, Down Solicitors can help. Contact us for more information.