09/13/2012 02:03 am ET Updated Nov 11, 2012

Overcoming Communication Barriers In Marriage & Divorce

Having counseled and represented thousands of people in their divorces, it is very clear to me that quite often, marriages fail because of an innate inability to allow each other the right to think differently.

For many couples, it seems to come down to whether they choose to be right or choose to be happy. Couples that choose to be right (mostly subconsciously) face a marriage filled with criticism, finger pointing and a general need to defend their ego. Couples that choose to be happy have less egoist interaction and are more accepting and tolerant of each other's differences in opinions or behavior. There is an agreement that the bond between them is greater than their differences.

There is a strong recurring theme for many people going through divorce: a problem with communication skills. Many married couples go through life experiencing a great deal of discord and pressure because they can't seem to communicate with one another in a productive manner.

Marriage counselors and therapists help people develop constructive communication skills by calling attention to the subconscious undertones that trigger difficulties in the relationship. These undertones are a mixture of past experiences, family values and general expectations, which people rarely take the time to analyze. This analysis and the subsequent development of solid communication skills is key to a successful marriage.

What exactly is communication? Communication is defined as the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs. This definition clearly establishes that exchanging thoughts and opinions is the core of communication; it requires two parties to send and receive a message, which means that listening is equally important as speaking. People get into arguments because they are unable or unwilling to listen to each other freely. Marriage does not imply that two people become one; instead, individuality should survive within the union. The union will survive when couples give each other the right to maintain their own thoughts, opinions and personalities.

If there is a breakdown in the relationship and the marriage does not succeed, it's important to recognize the communication problems that may have triggered the split. By stepping back and reflecting on simple human nature -- whether with a therapist, spiritual lead, or on your own -- we can extrapolate what led to the incompatibility in different areas of the relationship.

Prior to filing divorce papers for new clients, I always sit down with them and discuss why they want to dissolve their marriage. Often, problems between couples can continue after the divorce papers are signed. I advise my clients to meet with professionals -- psychologists, life coaches, or religious leaders -- to refocus their energy on moving forward and reinventing themselves independently from the relationship that broke down. Once they are able to detach themselves from the negativity surrounding the divorce process, they will be able to make non-confrontational decisions and move forward with the rest of their lives.

Whether going through a divorce or just dealing with everyday life, give yourself the gift of stepping outside the drama and communicating effectively in order to make better choices as you move forward.