Everyone knows that divorce is rampant in America; what they don't know is that many of those divorces could be avoided. Here are seven steps you can take to divorce-proof your marriage.
1. Talk more often, more openly and more honestly. Be courageous about this. It takes a willingness to be vulnerable with your partner to speak openly and honestly about your needs, but the rewards are great. You can't expect to have your needs met by your partner if they don't understand what you need. Have more dialogues and fewer monologues; talk about feelings as well as facts. Schedule a time each week to talk about things that matter to your relationship, don't leave this to chance.
2. Have more sex. Variety is the spice of life and nowhere is this more true than when it comes to sex. Couples who have sex at least once a week are less likely to divorce. Practice new positions, new locations, and experiment with role playing. Not sure where to start? Checking out our love and sex advice here on GalTime is a great place to get some ideas, or ask your partner what they'd like to try. Commit to trying something new at least once a month. Schedule regular times for sex, especially if you have children; don't leave this to chance, either.
3. Don't be afraid to talk to a life coach or a therapist. So often, couples attempt therapy or couples coaching as a last resort. If you wait until things are that bad, it's a lot more difficult to fix the problems. There's no shame in getting the advice and assistance from a neutral third party. The best time to get help is when you notice a recurring pattern that causes tension or strife. Nip it in the bud and move on.
4. Spend time together regularly as a couple. All couples, but especially parents with young children, need a regular date night. I recommend you spend a few hours alone together at least twice a month. You don't have to spend money to do this, you can take a long walk or go to the beach. Just try not to talk about the kids, and hold hands for at least a few minutes during your date.
5. Increase the amount of non-sexual touch in your relationship. This is why I recommend holding hands during date night; couples who have more non-sexual touch report being happier with their relationships. Hug each other when you get home from work, give each other a hand or foot massage, and rub her temples and neck if she has a headache. When you're having one of those talks (see #1), put your hand on his forearm or hold hands. This kind of touch releases oxytocin, a powerful brain chemical that improves bonding in relationships.
6. Nurture outside friendships. You can't expect your partner to be your everything; that just sets both of you up for disappointment. Every woman needs a girlfriend, and every man needs a boyfriend. However often you agree to have date nights, spend that same amount of time with your friends. It's also beneficial to get together regularly with other couples; couples who spend more time with other couples also report having happier marriages.
7. Practice forgiveness. Nobody's perfect, and holding a grudge against your partner eats away at the foundation of your relationship. Forgiveness is a powerful tool for creating long term happiness. Whether the transgression is large or small, the decision to forgive lies with you. Even if your partner has been unfaithful, it doesn't have to end the marriage if you choose to forgive. You may need professional help to move past the incident, but it's certainly possible.
What is your number one tip for holding your marriage together, even through rough times?
Johanna teaches people how to create the relationships and experiences they really want, to live a life of joy, love and abundance. The secret is JOY: Just Own Yourself. Her websites are www.thejoyprofessor.com and www.romancerecovery.com. She can be reached at Johanna@romancerecovery.com