Divorce-proof your marriage by focusing on what works.
No one gets married planning to get a divorce. Even couples who have an idea that maybe they ought not to get married still hope for the best when tying the knot.
Even the best relationships have tiny red flags that reveal themselves before the marriage starts, but most couples, caught up in the excitement of being in love, overlook marriage advice and little premarital conflicts.
You knew there were differences and problems — all marriages go through stages. All couples have conflict. And even though no one is foolish enough to ignore reality, deep down most couples genuinely believe marriage makes love stronger.
The only problem is that marriage has this funny way of magnifying the differences between you and your spouse. Is there a way to know if a relationship has what it takes to last and if you can have a happy marriage in the end?
We asked our YourTango Experts what strong marriages have in common. Here are 6 early signs they said reveal if your marriage is divorce-proof and will last.
1. You radically accept each other's differences.
“It may sound too simple, but a marriage lasts when couples honour each other’s differences. When couples talk to us about their differences as challenges not as catastrophes, you know their marriage will endure. Your spouse is different from you. They think differently, they feel differently, and they use money differently than you. And it’s not going to change.
If he enjoys spending money, work with that trait instead of trying to change him. If she likes a little risk to grow your money, buckle up and enjoy the ride. A marriage that lasts recognizes each other’s differences-digs deep to learn about their strengths and weaknesses — and then works with those and stops fantasizing about changing that person."
Scott & Bethany Palmer, The Money Couple, are financial planners, authors, and speakers who help couples tackle money issues in their relationship.
2. You love without limits.
“When you and your spouse accept and love each other as you are, that's a good sign your marriage will last. This means you're embracing the good, not so good, and quirky sides of each other. It also means you're both sharing your true thoughts and feelings which deepens your love.”
3. You accept his past, and he accepts yours.
"Regardless of who he was, how many women he’s been with, or his upbringing, you don’t hold his past against him. You naturally allow him to reinvent himself and grow with you. You promise to never think you know everything him, and instead swear to approach each day with the curiosity of who he's becoming. Your relationship is the total package (forgiveness and letting go of the past are NOT sold separately)."
Clayton Olson is an international relationship coach, master NLP practitioner, and facilitator who delivers private virtual coaching sessions and leads online group workshops.
4. You put each other first.
“Couples are on solid ground in their relationship when they’ve made the transition from ‘me’ to ‘us’ in that their first priority is to make each other feel safe and secure. They apologize after a fight for their part in the conflict, even if they think they’ve only contributed two percent to the problem. They let the other know regularly what they appreciate, and their sexual connection feels satisfying.”
Deborah Fox, MSW is a couples therapist and Certified Sex Therapist, helping couples reconnect and find their way back to a passionate relationship.
5. You communicate with kindness.
“You know your marriage is going to last when you are able to talk about any topic, even the challenging ones, in a calm and open manner. You approach these conversations as an opportunity to learn about your partner, not to get your own way. You embrace your differences and recognize that you are stronger when you work as a team than as individual players.”
Lesli Doares is a therapist, couples coach, and the founder of a practical alternative for couples worldwide looking to improve their marriage without traditional therapy.
6. You're friends who enjoy quality time together.
“According to John Gottman, marriages are based on deep friendship and shared meaning. Happily married couples are able to resolve conflict without resorting to negative behavior like name-calling or criticizing. Successful couples are interested in understanding the internal world of the other — they remain curious and open to each other. The relationship is not without problems but the couple remains loving and accepting of one another.”
Lea Roussos is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice, and is also a Clinical Supervisor of Santa Monica Counseling Center.