By the time the word “divorce” comes up in a relationship, things have already fallen apart. It may seem like things cannot be repaired at this point, but it is amazing what things couples can overcome if they truly love each other.
Every morning of your life, both you and your partner get out of bed and make a decision to stay with each other (or end the relationship and go another direction in life.) You make this decision every single day of your life, whether or not you are aware of it.
Since you are reading this article, you have obviously made the decision to stay with your partner if at all possible. There may be several obstacles such as anger, resentment, shame, infidelity, embarrassment, etc.
The first thing to tackle is this: It doesn’t matter what others think. Not one bit. This is your relationship and your life. As long as your relationship is healthy, then don’t worry about the opinion of others.
Note: If your relationship is in trouble due to infidelity, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about it. Your family, friends, and community are NOT who keep you warm at night, so forget what they think. Cheating on either side can be forgiven, if not forgotten, and the relationship can flourish from there.
Here are the steps for preventing divorce:
1. Get Truly Honest
Now is the time to honest like you have never been before. If you have been a jerk, admit it. If you truly cannot stand his mother, come clean now. If you tune your wife out when she starts talking about her day, own up to it now. Don’t keep lying to your partner about it (and possibly yourself too). Everything needs to be out on the table. This is the biggest step in preventing divorce, and the hardest.
Note: There is one exception to this rule. People seem to disagree about this, but I truly believe that if you had an affair that was years ago and your spouse doesn’t know, it is usually better not to tell them now. That usually just relieves your conscious but makes your spouse miserable. It is too far in the past to be a current issue now.)
2. Agree Not To Judge Each Other
It is amazing what you can learn about each other once both of you make it “safe” for the other person. If you have been together for a lot of years, then both of you have changed over time and may have lots of things you would like to tell each other but don’t feel like you can. When you agree not to judge, you need to keep your word no matter what they tell you. Remember, your spouse is human too.
Preventing divorce can only be done if both sides are willing to make some concessions and work down to place where it really hurts. That’s the only way to heal your relationship, so you can be sure that both of you are going to be uncomfortable. If not, you probably have not been down on the level where you need to be.
3. Listen To What Your Spouse Is Saying
It is very difficult to listen to another person say something you don’t agree with and not interrupt to plead your case. However, you need to develop this skill right now. When your partner feels like they have your complete attention, they will probably spill everything they have wanted to say for a long time.
Preventing divorce is not usually easy, but listening to each other is a crucial step to getting started. Quite often problems first arise in marriages when spouses stop listening. This does not make either of you a bad person, it just means life got in the way. You were probably busy, tired, and overwhelmed on both sides.
4. Use the 10/10 List
I love this exercise and it is SO EASY to do! Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle forming two columns. Number your paper to ten on both columns. Title one side “Top 10 Things I Love About My Spouse” and title the other side “Top 10 Things That Drive Me Crazy About My Spouse”.
Both of you should do this at the same time and be just as truthful as you can possibly be. You might even want to think about it for a day before you compare. Couples are often surprised at what they learn about each other from this short, simple exercise. Besides giving you more important information, the “good” side also helps cushion the “bad” side which helps egos and hurt feelings.
5. Don’t Be a Doormat
This is where your common sense comes in. Do not let your spouse use you or run over you in anyway. Set your boundaries and don’t budge. For instance, if you are on the verge of divorce the last thing you want to do is engage in any type of sexual activity with this person. If he wants to divorce you, why would he want to be intimate with you? Definitely not for the right reasons, so stand your ground.
Also, if the two of you are talking about reconciliation and possibly dating again, do not tolerate your spouse dating other people. Either they want to work it out with you or they don’t. You are worth the dedication or you are not. Keep you self-respect and don’t allow such behavior.
6. Make Yourself a Better Person
Interesting people are attractive people, so don’t sit at home waiting for your spouse to decide if they want you back. Get out there and live your life. Take up new hobbies, go out with friends, and generally have fun. Quite often the other person gets a little jealous when they see you out living a fruitful life and want to be part of that life again.
Please do not confuse this with dating a person just to make your spouse jealous. That is a huge no no and often backfires anyway. Also, if you are truly interested in preventing divorce, I would suggest that you refrain from dating others. The less complications, the better.
Even if things do not work out with your marriage, you will already have a new life in place and be ready to move on. Preventing divorce is your goal, but your life has to go on even if your marriage does not.
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by Angela Christian Pope @ ModernRelationship.org