When you got married, you probably never thought about the possibility of it ending. Why would
you? You’re on a high, marrying the person you love, and life couldn’t be better.
But the harsh reality is that, in the U.S., about 40-50% of marriages end in divorce. They
are sobering statistics that reveal the challenges many married couples face today. However, the
good news is, with a little effort and careful attention on your relationship, you can protect it from
the stresses and challenges married life presents today.
In the U.S. today, divorce costs taxpayers over $28 billion a year. That’s an astronomical
number that doesn’t include the emotional impact on children and extended family. So the
question is, what are the different ways to protect your marriage so it doesn’t become another statistic?
1. Put your marriage first
Experts can agree on one thing: there are many things you can do long before you end up in a
divorce court. Thanks to the Internet, there is unlimited access to communication and conflict
resolution training and skills at your fingertips. When you consider the average divorce costs
$100,000, then the cost of a self-help book looks like incredible value. Make sure you prioritize
your relationship at all times and constantly nurture and feed your emotional and physical
connection. “Small and often” is the key here; the accumulation of good will can help your
2. Focus on prevention
If divorce is looming for you on the horizon, it’s likely you’re already both carrying a lot of hurt and
pain from the past. Once you’re at this point, it can be much harder to turn your relationship
around and get back on track. The best strategy to avoid getting to this point is to address
disagreements and issues early on. Sadly, there is still some stigma for people seeking couple counseling. The myth is that only couples in crisis need professional help. But the truth is, when
you seek counseling early on, you will get much better outcomes and avoid more relationship
problems in the future. Think of your marriage like a car. It requires regular maintenance and
tune-ups. Learning communication and conflict resolution skills in counseling is a prevention
strategy that could be the best decision you ever make.
3. Work on yourself
A relationship can only be as healthy as the two individuals in it. Even if your spouse is reluctant to
participate in therapy, you can still help your relationship by going alone. Taking responsibility for
your part in your “relationship dance” can help stop the negative patterns of relating that have
become entrenched over time. And your efforts to change your side of the dynamic can have a
positive impact on your partner. The important thing here is not to abandon the idea of attending
therapy if your partner is not willing to come. You can still achieve good outcomes and make
positive changes in your marriage.
4. Separate with dignity
Even with the best efforts, not every marriage can survive. For some couples, a divorce is simply
the only option. But an amicable divorce can mean avoiding the loss of thousands of dollars and
ongoing hurt and pain for your children and extended family. In my practice, I see how divorce
hurts everyone involved. But it is possible to separate consciously and with dignity, which is why I
usually suggest mediation before involving lawyers. Mediation offers an opportunity to come to
reasonable and fair decisions about your finances and family and find some closure, without
adding unnecessary resentments, bitterness, and financial strain.
Marriages are living, breathing entities. A strong and healthy relationship is one that is regularly
nourished. Early intervention is the difference between taking antibiotics for an infection or
ignoring the problem until it requires a full amputation. Make it a priority to deal with the little things in your relationship before they have a chance to become big things.
Clinton is a relationship counselor and psychotherapist with over a decade of experience working
with individuals and couples with relationship issues. Clinton Power + Associates provides
quality relationship counseling in Sydney, Australia. Clinton is regularly featured in the media on
the topic of relationships and has been interviewed by MSN.com, The Sun-Herald, Cosmopolitan,
News.com.au, Essential Baby, ABC 702, SBS Radio, and Men’s Health.