Divorce. For many Americans, it’s a common word. Everyone knows someone who is either divorced or has parents who are divorced. Despite the frequency of divorces that take place in our culture, we are caught off guard when we hear long-term marriages fall prey to the big “D.” Melinda and Bill Gates are a high-profile married couple whose 27-year marriage fizzled out, shocking most of the world. This goes to show that no one is safe from troubles in marriage, and if these troubles are not addressed, they grow until they are irreparable. How do you protect your marriage–whether you’re in your first year or fiftieth–from becoming another statistic?
You and your spouse are two different people. After all, that’s probably what attracted you to each other. Of course, you likely share the same core values and beliefs, but your unique personalities are what create spark and fun in your marriage. While the “opposites attract” expression bodes true in some cases, when you’re married and living together, it can take on a different meaning. Your spouse may not pick up after himself/herself, leaving dirty clothes strewn on the floor or dishes next to the sink. It can become frustrating. This is where compromise and grace come in. You have to be willing to give up some things in order to live in harmony. One of those things might be you can’t expect to have an immaculate home 24/7, or you can’t always watch your show when you want to watch. There has to be give and take. If one partner is completely selfish and unwilling to compromise, there only will be resentment and anger that will culminate in irreconcilable differences.
Make Time for Yourselves and for Each Other
Being around each other all the time will drive you both crazy. It is inevitable. We all need breaks from each other. This does not mean you love each other any less. Self-care is vital in marriage. If you don’t take time to enjoy yourself and do things for yourself, you will become lost and angry, which will have a negative impact on your marriage. Go to the gym. Get a pedicure. Go out with your friends for the night. Go shopping for a day. Watch the game with your buddies. Remember who you are outside of husband or wife; when you do this, you will be refreshed, confident, and happy, which will extend into your marriage.
Conversely, it is crucial that you make special time for each other. This means doing more than eating dinner together or watching TV on the couch. Taking the time to plan something special and get out of your mundane routine allows you both to see each other in new ways in new environments. More importantly, this sends the message that you value each other because you took the time to plan a date and spend time together.
Be Willing to Seek Help When You Need It
Most divorces do not end in an instant. They start out as small problems that grow and grow until you don’t know how to fix them. Challenges will come; you cannot go through life without facing issues or struggles. Therefore, as a couple, you need to expect the hard times and have the tools to deal with them together. Pray together, find an encouraging friend group, or attend counseling together.
Sometimes the problems may be more serious. For example, financial problems are one of the biggest causes of divorce. If these arise in your marriage, seek help. There are likely underlying reasons this is happening: failure to budget, overspending, addiction. You cannot fix it alone. If you do not take the measures to fix these problems, there can be no trust or security in your marriage. Without them, it is unlikely your marriage will avoid divorce.
The Bottom Line
While there are lots of things you can do to spice up your marriage and keep it strong, three core actions can safeguard your marriage from divorce: compromise, spend time together and apart, and seek help when you need it. Avoid being another statistic. Fall back on these three things, and you will find happiness, peace, and solidarity in your marriage.