Talking your way out of divorce

Marriages end for many reasons: infidelity is an old favourite, perhaps the most time-honoured of marriage enders. Domestic abuse, whether physical or psychological, is one of the saddest. But most more common are those undramatic and mundane drifts into stagnation and boredom. The buzz and excitement of the early days together fades, and when routine takes over, there is a real danger that boredom will not be far behind. One day you could wake up and realise that you’ve heard all your partner’s stories before, know all their habits, views, likes and dislikes and no longer find any as enchanting as you once did. If that happens you may find yourself questioning whether your marriage has a future.

Maybe you know someone whose marriage ended in this way? There were no arrests, no drama, no great betrayals – they and their partner just drifted apart. When such breakups happens, it can be a real shock to their friends and family.

So is there anything you can do to keep your own marriage from stagnating? Not taking the other person for granted is great first step – ceasing to pay your spouse the attention they deserve is a sure sign of a marriage heading for the rocks.

Keeping the lines of communication open is another great idea. Clear communication is essential to a healthy relationship. Both parties need to feel that they have been listened to, understood and respected.

It’s so easy to drift into the bad habit of assuming your partner always sees things they way you do and understands what you’re thinking and feeling without you having to explain. When you discover that they don’t, you may be left fuming and feeling that actually explaining yourself would be far too much effort. Another sure sign of a marriage in trouble.

I loved an  article on the Huffington Post yesterday by life coach Deb Dutilh. Called Divorce Causes: 5 Communication Habits That Lead To Divorce, she list the following as the key marriage-damaging ways of talking to your spouse:

*Inauthenticity – ie not saying what you really think or feel, perhaps because you are afraid to say no.

*Incongruence – that is to say, sending mixed messages. Saying one thing your with your mouth and another with your body, that equally vital communication tool. As she rightly notes: “When we say one thing while rolling our eyes, tightening our lips and/or shrugging shoulders, we send another message, usually one of being dismissive, defensive and/or judgmental.”

*Having a win-lose attitude – wanting to always have the last word and win every last verbal joust with your partner will not build a happy relationship.

*Interrupting and badgering – this not allowing the other partner time to fully respond to your questions, or asking several questions at once.

*Being impolite: you may be married to someone but you should still say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’!

Wise words. Making an effort now could mean a lot less effort later and save your marriage from the divorce courts!

I would to end this post on a personal note by thanking everyone who has dropped by to read the blog during November. We have had our highest ever number of visits!

Photo by Renee Barron via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

Marilyn Stowe

The senior partner at Stowe Family Law, Marilyn Stowe is one of Britain’s best known divorce lawyers with clients throughout the country, in Europe, the Far East and the USA.

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