Many couples wait until too late to try to address fractures in their marriage. Often, by the time someone is considering divorce, it can feel difficult to change course and begin to heal the relationship.
But at Bivek, Brubaker & Prescott, we also see couples invested in finding ways to strengthen their marriage, either early on during the drafting of a pre- or post-nuptial agreement, or after problems have already led them to consider, but move beyond, divorce.
Strengthening marriages takes time and commitment—there are no easy fixes—but here are some ideas we’ve seen work for our clients, or that directly address common issues that lead to divorce. (It’s worth noting that the ideas below are based on the assumption that the marriage is safe and non-abusive.)
You don’t need to be on the brink of a divorce to speak with a marriage counselor or couples therapist. These professionals can help you learn new ways of communicating with each other, act as a neutral third party in disagreements, and help you identify why you have the same arguments over and over. They may also help you better understand some of the common stressors that can affect a marriage, including the birth of a child, an aging parent, an empty nest, or a layoff.
If one partner struggles with mental health issues, addiction, or alcohol abuse, you’ll also want to seek individual treatment. It’s hard to make a marriage work when illness or addiction are left unchecked.
We often see the same problems crop up time and time again in the divorces we handle. A big one? Finances. If money is a source of tension or stress in your marriage, resolve to finally see a financial planner, have a discussion about retirement, or make a budget. It’s OK to maintain a joint account for the household but separate accounts for personal spending. Just be upfront about what goes where and consider your overall savings, college planning, and retirement strategies.
It’s also smart to figure out your pain points, whether that’s a weekly fight about dirty dishes or simmering resentment about the unseen “emotional labor” of life. Divvy up what it takes to keep the household running and hold each other accountable. If your budget allows, consider outsourcing services like cleaning or lawn care that regularly cause tension.
In the rush of everyday life, it can feel hard to connect with your spouse on a regular basis. Sure, you live together, but it takes more than that to make a marriage work. Stay intimate with your partner and make time for one-on-one dates, evenings in, or even simply a shared walk or workout. Also try to build in a regular planning time—an hour or so to manage schedules, talk finances, and check in on your individual and shared goals.
At the same time, remember that your spouse can’t fill every need in your life. Marriage is not a catchall for extended family, friendships, community associations, volunteer organizations, or religious groups. It’s healthy to have interests and friends outside of your marriage so you can return home inspired and rejuvenated.
Sometimes marriages are beyond just needing some work to strengthen them and it is time to proceed with a divorce. If you’d like to begin discussing a divorce, the Marietta divorce attorneys at Bivek, Brubaker & Prescott are here to help. Contact us today.