11/17/2013 03:49 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

You Can Prevent a Divorce

After years in the divorce business, I am convinced that divorce is preventable. Enjoy and embrace this first blog in a series discussing steps to avoid the big "D."

"Who you marry will define 90 percent of your happiness." -- Anonymous

I remember reading this in my late twenties and thinking, "Wow, whoever wrote this must not be very independent or confident. They must need someone else to define them." Well, I was wrong. I missed the entire meaning and essence behind this powerful message.

This does not mean that you need someone else to make you happy or that you suffer from some kind of serious insecurity. In fact, it speaks to the opposite. It is saying that our choices in life will define our happiness. Each choice, good or bad, has consequences and those outcomes frame our existence and, in turn, our thoughts. Our thoughts define our lives.

You can prevent future endings by being extremely thoughtful about who you choose to marry. On the surface that sounds so cliché, but in reality, very few do the hard work either on themselves or as a couple before they get married. It is important to understand the power of chemistry. We are attracted to both what is good for us and what is bad for us. Herein lies the power of choice. We have the will to do as we please and yet sometimes we think we are heading down the right path to find out later that in fact we were fooled. Fooled not by others, but by our decision to not take the time to see and feel what is truly in our highest best interest.

I hear all too often that one of the parties had a "spider" sense when they got married that perhaps this person was not really who they should marry. Unfortunately, given some "rational" thinking, we write these thoughts off as something other than what is the truth -- we simply need to move on.

So here are some common sense "to do's" and "not to do's":

  • Do not rush into marriage! It takes time to know someone and almost everyone can put on a good front for many months.
  • Do ensure you have seen their "shadow" side and know that when you get married it will get darker.
  • Do ask the hard questions. Ensure you talk about money, family, religion, sex, life goals etc.
  • Do have a trained and skilled third-party facilitate these conversations, as they will help reveal issues and better your communication skills.
  • Do spend lots of time together.
  • Do ensure that both your value systems are aligned.
  • Do make sure you like at least some of the same activities.
  • Do know and like yourself first.
  • Do not get married if you are not grounded or have not dealt with your personal issue(s) as you will attract someone who has the same damaged energy. You are likely not to see it until much later.
  • Do understand that regardless of whom you marry, being married is both hard work and hugely rewarding. You need to be able to commit both time and heart into nurturing the relationship.
  • Do understand that you will be attracted to a person who has something to teach you. This is exactly what your soul mate was sent to do. They will teach you, not necessarily overtly, but rather through interactions and experiences with them. This is the power of chemistry and understanding that the "right" person is put on your path so that you can learn, grow and become a better person. This is exactly what true love is about. In this way, you learn not to judge or blame but rather embrace and see perhaps the karmic humor in the match.
  • Do understand that your partner has the ability to push your buttons, like no one else, and it is exactly how it is meant to be. It is not about them (your soul mate) pushing your buttons, it is about how you learn to respond and discipline your actions and reactions. In this egoless way you can achieve true partnership, unconditional love and trust.