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How to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage

How to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage

Marriage can be one of the most fulfilling and meaningful relationships in life. However, around 50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce. This statistic is alarming, especially for those who hope to have a lifelong union with their spouse.

The good news is that there are proven strategies that can dramatically increase the chances that your marriage will go the distance. By being proactive and intentional, you can “divorce-proof” your partnership.

In this article, you’ll learn research-backed tips on strengthening communication, keeping intimacy alive, managing conflict, aligning core values, and more. With some effort, creativity and commitment from both partners, you can build a solid foundation for a marriage that stands the test of time.

Assess Your Risk Factors

Not all marriages have the same divorce risk factors. There are certain demographic, behavioral and attitudinal characteristics that are linked to higher likelihood of splitting up.

Take some time to have an honest conversation about any risk factors that may be present in your partnership. This awareness can help you proactively address potential problem areas.

Some common divorce predictors include:

  • Marrying young (under 25 years old)
  • Coming from a divorced family
  • Living together before marriage
  • Different religious beliefs
  • Financial struggles and debt
  • Lack of adequate premarital education or counseling
  • History of physical abuse, infidelity or addiction
  • Lack of communication and conflict resolution skills

If any of the above risk factors apply to your marriage, don’t panic! Many happy lifelong marriages start out facing some of these challenges.

However, be sure not to ignore or downplay risky areas – take intentional steps to strengthen your bond in these domains. Forewarned is forearmed when it comes to divorce-proofing.

Cultivate Open and Empathetic Communication

At its core, marriage is a relationship. And the number one predictor of success in any relationship is healthy communication. Between partners with different perspectives shaped by their gender, background and personality, communicating can be tricky at times.

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When conflict arises, many couples tend to shut down, blow up at their partner, or avoid difficult conversations altogether. However, this is precisely when good communication matters most.

Here are some tips for opening up the lines of communication in your marriage:

  • Set aside 15-30 focused minutes each day to check-in
  • Take turns vulnerably sharing feelings, perspectives, hopes – without interruption
  • Validate each other by demonstrating empathy, not necessarily agreement
  • If tensions escalate, take a break and revisit the topic later when calm
  • Seek counseling if you need help communicating sensitively on big issues

The gold standard for communication is having a safe space to share authentically, followed by receiving empathy and understanding from your partner. This prevents small issues from accumulating into major resentment.

Prioritizing emotional and vulnerable dialogue lays a strong foundation for divorce-proofing your marriage.

Keep Physical and Emotional Intimacy Alive

The stressors of career, household responsibilities, parenting and managing finances often leave little bandwidth for nurturing intimacy in marriage.

But intimacy is like oxygen for the lifelong partnership fire – without it, the flame will slowly suffocate. Make no mistake, keeping intimacy alive requires ongoing effort, especially with the familiarity that comes from years of togetherness.

Here are some creative ideas for nurturing more intimacy with your spouse:

  • Exchange massages after long days to promote relaxation and touch
  • Recreate your first dates doing novel, exciting activities together
  • Try new things as a couple – dance classes, sports leagues, travel adventures
  • Spend intentional one-on-one time without distractions
  • Flirt! Compliment each other’s appearance and strengths
  • Ask revealing questions and really listen to the answers
  • Maintain physical affection – kissing, hugging, hand-holding
  • Prioritize emotional and physical intimacy even during conflict

When both spouses feel seen, appreciated and connected, this builds reservoirs of goodwill, passion and commitment. Make nurturing intimacy a pillar of your marriage rather than something that fades with time.

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Shared novel experiences, intentional conversations, physical touch, laughter and playfulness will divorce-proof your bond.

Align on Money Values and Goals

They say money can’t buy happiness – but financial conflicts sure can create misery in marriages! Disputes over spending, saving, investing and handling debts are prime catalysts for marital strife. When spouses have mismatched money values and habits, this breeds resentment and mistrust over time.

The solution? Getting aligned on financial goals and priorities early on. Here are some important money conversations all married couples should revisit periodically:

  • What are your respective attitudes toward saving versus spending today?
  • How much financial risk are you comfortable with when investing?
  • What common goals are we saving and budgeting for? Retirement? Education? Real estate? Travel?
  • How will we manage separate assets versus shared marital property?
  • What money values around security, generosity, frugality do we each prioritize?

Life brings many financial ups and downs – jobs changes, relocations, inheritances, layoffs. During times of financial stress avoid blame and criticism. Instead, lean into compassion and teamwork.

Share the budgeting workload, have patience with mistakes, acknowledge efforts to improve and find creative solutions together. Aligning early on money goals and being flexible during financial seasons will divorce-proof your marriage.

Learn Healthy Conflict Resolution Strategies

Every marriage will experience conflict and disagreement. It’s normal for spouses to have diverging perspectives, priorities and preferences periodically. However, how constructively couples manage conflict is a huge predictor of marital outcomes.

Marriages that end in divorce tend to get stuck in patterns of destructive conflict resolution. This includes contempt, criticism, defensiveness and stonewalling.

Here are some healthy, productive tips for resolving conflict in marriage:

  • Take a 24 hour pause on big conflicts to allow emotions to cool down
  • Frame issues as you vs the problem, not you vs your spouse
  • Listen fully before articulating your own perspective
  • Validate your partner’s feelings and goals even in disagreement
  • Avoid insults, exaggerations and accusations
  • Collaborate to find win-win solutions satisfying both partners
  • Focus the discussion on modifiable specifics, not immoveable personality traits
  • If overwhelmed, call a time-out and revisit when feeling calmer
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No married couple will see eye-to-eye 100% of the time. However, with constructive communication habits, disagreements need not damage the relationship. Compromise when you can, and table discussions if things get heated. Successfully navigating conflict demonstrates resilience in the marriage bond.

Cultivate Shared Meaning and Purpose

At its deepest level, marriage goes beyond emotions, finances and responsibilities. It also encompasses a shared sense of meaning, purpose and vision for life. As you navigate the practicalities of married life, also carve out time envisioning the big picture together.

  • What mission, causes and ethics do we share? How can we support each other’s personal growth?
  • What legacy and impact do we hope to leave behind as a couple?
  • What adventures and goals do we want to accomplish in the next season of life?

Revisiting your marriage vision, purpose and dreams fosters a sense of meaning. When you encounter stressors, this deeper layer of shared meaning and intention helps anchor the partnership.

Some couples write mission statements, others have annual retreats to reset. However you do it, building a marriage upon shared meaning and purpose divorce-proofs the bond at a heart level.

Wrapping Up

While there are no absolute guarantees in life, proactively divorce-proofing your marriage significantly improves the odds of lifelong success. Avoiding complacency and putting in ongoing work to nurture intimacy, communication, conflict resolution and shared vision lays a robust foundation.

No marriage is perfect, but dedication to growth and learning helps cement bonds for the long haul. Stay encouraged that with some creativity and commitment, you can build a relationship that stands the test of time.

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