October 2017




7 Tips to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage

By: Marian Stansbury

In today's world couples struggle to maintain successful love relationships that last. Statistics have shown that in the U.S. 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second, and 73% of third marriages end in divorce. Many couples are choosing to cohabit but still want a relationship that is stable and loving.

You may have unrealistic expectations of romance and long-term partnerships. You may have an idealized vision of the perfect relationship based on your dreams, ideas, and fantasies. The media often inspire fantasy ideas about marriage. When a marriage begins to lose its "glow" and reality sets in, many couples break up rather than trying to make it a viable relationship.

So, here are seven tips to divorce-proof your marriage:

1. Understand that relationships go through different stages 
The initial "falling in love" phase is an exciting and amazing stage of a relationship, but it is important to know that this is only a stage. It is not likely to last. Many couples do not make an effort to grow when they encounter the 'power struggle,' the second stage. Those who grow through this stage can then move into a deeper, more mature love.

2. Mindset: Growth or Fixed?   
Do you believe you and others can grow and change or do you say "That's just the way I am."? Knowing that you can learn from experience and adapt to new behaviors is crucial to a mature, loving relationship. It is advantageous when both partners have a 'growth' mindset.

3. Have effective communication skills   
Communication is probably the number one issue that couples identify as a problem. It is important to express your needs and ask for what you want assertively. And, you need to listen to understand your partner. Without these skills, you will face obstacles in your relationship. Without open and honest communication, it's not possible to be truly intimate with each other. Communication skills can be learned if you have a 'growth mindset.'

4. Learn how to manage emotions and resolve conflict 
When conflict is avoided or mismanaged, it can cause significant harm to a relationship. Relationships are primarily emotional. Emotions drive your behavior. Being able to identify a feeling, express it and ask for what you want and need is a skill that can be learned and is a sign of a maturity. When you are overwhelmed with emotion, you are likely to resort to avoiding or attacking your partner. Being motivated to listen to understand your partner and they you is the first step toward resolution of conflict. Once you understand each other, the aim is to create a win-win solution. A win-win is where both of you feel completely satisfied with the outcome.

5. Share values, goals and life vision 
When you share values, a life vision and have similar goals, you'll be journeying together on the same path. Many couples split up because they have different life goals and their paths take them into different directions. They grow apart. Therefore, intentionally creating your relationship together by making conscious choices will enable your relationship to be more fulfilling.

6. Be appreciative 
Feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you directly influence how you feel about your partner and how committed you are to the relationship. Saying 'Thank you!. I appreciate you' is powerful.

7. Frequently share physical intimacy
Physical intimacy is an important part of a love relationship. The physical expression of affection and connection strengthens a relationship. The quality of a couple's intimate relationship supports relationship satisfaction.

By being educated and knowing what it takes to create long-term relationships, developing realistic expectations of what long-term commitment means, and putting in the effort required to make it work, you too can have a successful relationship for life.

Copyright © 2017 by Marian Stansbury and the Relationship Coaching Institute. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.

Marian Stansbury, Ph.D. supports couples and singles in creating an Extraordinary Relationship. As well as being a Relationship Coach, she is also a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and author of an eBook on Amazon: A PATH TO CREATING AN EXTRAORDINARY RELATIONSHIP. Her web site is www.ToolsforaHappierLife.com

Ask Our Coaches

I hate being alone. Isn't marriage supposed to be about being "together"?

Dear Coaches,

I've been married for a little more than 2 years and I almost never spend time with my husband. He's in the Marines and he has been deployed overseas for most of our marriage. At first it made everything even more special and romantic when he did come home, but now I'm just lonely and resentful and I end up picking fights with him and we're miserable. I have even started thinking about having an affair with one of our neighbors, mainly because I hate being alone. I don't want to be selfish but I don't think I'm cut out to be a military wife. Should I try harder, or should I give up?

Leah Cochrane

Dave responds ...

I understand your struggles and offer concrete action steps for you.

As a retired Navy chaplain, with 22 out of 28 years assigned with the USMC (also a husband, father, and grandfather), I can tell you that what you describe is normal. I have seen this many times before. My family and I have experienced many long deployments. We know what you are going through and we thank you and your husband for your service to the greatest nation on earth. Oorah!

Marriage is certainly about enjoying being together at times, but it is also about supporting each other in all situations. The Bible calls this being each other’s “Help Meet”. The sacrifice of deployment is not just your husband’s, but it is a sacrifice and a contribution on your part as well. Let me assure you that these lonely times are temporary, and many rewards will come your way. Embrace the challenge and decide to do things that will help you through. Here are some specific recommendations:

  1. Decide to be the architect of your future, to take charge and be active by doing things that will help yourself and others.
  2. Get involved with the LINKS program at your base. This is a network of military spouses who have been through/are going through the same thing you are experiencing. There is strength in numbers. (LINKS stands for Lifestyle, Information, Networking, Knowledge and Skills. This is a fantastic organization designed to help with exactly what you described in your question.)
  3. Get to know your Family Readiness Officer (FRO) and ask how you can volunteer with the programs for the families of your unit.
  4. Go to the Marine Corps Family Team Building (MCFTB) office at your base and get to know the staff there.
  5. Sign up for the first Marriage Enrichment Workshop that MCFTB will be offering after your husband’s return. (Note: I helped develop that program. Drop my name with the staff, someone will at least know of me. Tell them I sent you. I retired in 2014, not long ago.) Ask about other programs they have that might interest you. Volunteer to help!
  6. Find out who your chaplain is. The unit chaplain is probably deployed with your husband, but another chaplain is covering in their absence. Meet that chaplain and tell them what you are going through. They know the local resources, who you should get to know, etc. They are your allies!
  7. Consider working with a competent Relationship Coach who will support you in taking conscious steps to strengthen your marriage during this deployment and beyond.

Dave Wilder | www.treasuredrelationships.com

Dr. Wendy Lyon

Dr. Wendy responds ...

I understand how lonely and resentful you must feel when your husband is never around. Perhaps you'd like to have a conversation with your husband to discuss how you are both feeling, and to plan for the future. Here are a few questions to consider: If nothing changed, could you be happy with the current state of your marriage? How much time do you need to spend together to feel like you are spending enough time together? Does he have any control over his future deployment overseas? Are there ways for the two of you to stay connected when he’s away? Do you and your husband feel aligned with a shared vision for the future? Are you both committed to doing whatever it takes to sustain a loving marriage?

You may find it very helpful to consult with a relationship coach who could help you both to express what you are feeling, to communicate more clearly and to understand each other better. Meanwhile, you may also want to look at how you can enrich your life with friends, family, community, work, learning, exercise and activities. How can you enjoy your own company and expand your horizons in a healthy and productive way? Hint: having an affair with the neighbor because you’re lonely wouldn’t be the best choice. What are some good choices you could make?

Dr. Wendy Lyon | www.drwendylyon.com

The opinions stated are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the staff, members, or leadership of Relationship Coaching Institute.

This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your question here and it will be forwarded to our coaches all over the world. Each issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.


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