Can you divorce-proof your marriage? The thought has been looming in my mind since I received a WhatsApp text that read: “It’s over. We filed for divorce today.” It was from one of my closest friends, all of 32 years of age and in 3 years of married life. It was just a month since some of us had gathered for her and Nilesh’s housewarming party.
Both of them were faring well professionally, their social media profile was enviable, with numerous international check-ins, pictures of good times and some romantic statuses. Everything seemed great, and there were just no signs that these two would separate soon. They fought a lot, that’s true, but then which couple does not have spats that are sometimes loud and crude? But divorce? We hadn’t seen it coming.
If a divorce can happen in such a perfect marriage, then a divorce can happen to anyone. Spats do not lead to divorce, or do they? Is there a way to divorce-proof a marriage? I love my husband and just like her and Nilesh, we have our fair share of arguments and fights.
They fought a lot, that’s true, but then which couple does not have spats that are sometimes loud and crude? But divorce? We hadn’t seen it coming.
But I don’t want to my marriage end in a divorce, so I did some soul searching and figured there are ways to divorce-proof a marriage, all by yourself, and make this knot a strong foundation for the rest of our lives. There emerged some critical topics that couples should discuss and resolve to prevent a marriage from failing. If you want to divorce-proof your marriage, you may as well work on these aspects and make sure that you do not end up becoming another number in the divorce statistics reports.
Here are some takeaways. I hope you will add some of your own, from your experience, to share with me and anyone else who may read this piece.
Related reading: 15 most common reasons for divorce
9 Ways to Divorce-proof Your Marriage
Divorce rates in India currently stand at 14%, says a report. Though it is lesser than the western world, it is continuously rising.
No mantra makes marriages work; no one shoe fits us all. However, certain things are common to most marriages, and if you could pay some attention to these 9 points, you could be divorce-proofing your marriage. Let’s discuss them in detail.
1. Spend time apart from each other
Sure, marriage is about two people discovering each other and spending time together. Honestly, it can be challenging to keep a marriage going if both the spouses are joined at the hip at the time. You two must spend time apart so that you value the time you spend together.
Every time I go away with my girlfriends or spend a few weeks at my Mom’s, there is a renewed sense of being together with each other again. Similarly, he likes to come back to our cosy home after his rustic road trips. Simple!
2. Ditch the mental scorecard
There is no marriage that doesn’t have its share of arguments and fights. Many of us like to keep a score of ‘I was right’ victories. Or losses. Either way, keeping a scorecard on how many times you ended up being ‘right’ can be detrimental to any relationship, and marriage is no exception. Choose happiness over winning, be the first to drop an argument and focus on what matters the most to you.
I agree it’s easier said than done, and once an aspiring lawyer, I can go on and on when it comes to arguments. But, over time, I have learnt to let the checker go.
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3. Keep finances in check, both of you
Finances can be a major reason for a disconnect between spouses. Financial conflict can wreak havoc on even the strongest of marriages. When two people are committed to each other, they should be able to discuss financial matters without either of the spouses feeling defensive or edgy. More importantly, there should be complete transparency on finances in a marriage. No hidden assets or accounts, no lying about money troubles either. Remember you’re a team working toward common goals together.
While I was working full time, I was earning quite a lot, but when I quit to take care of my two little angels, we had to work on a new equation of spending and saving. Both partners must be adaptable to such changes, they’re an inevitable part of your life journey. Revisiting your financial status every few weeks will help you feel more in control of your relationship.
4. Discover things you enjoy mutually…
Try out new things, share each other’s passions and discover your mutual interests. It can be tough to find happiness together at first, but gradually, you do. And then there are a host of new things that can be tried out, which you may love together.
It also helps if you and your spouse know each other well before entering into matrimony. Experts agree that the likelihood of marriages surviving the fear of divorce is higher if a couple has dated long enough before taking their relationship to the next level.
A study indicates that couples who date up to two years before getting married are 20% less likely to get divorced as compared to those who dated less than a year. The likelihood of divorce goes down by 39% if the duration of the relationship before marriage was three years or more.
Another doctoral thesis supports this trend, suggesting that couples who rush into marriage in the first six months of dating are at the highest risk of getting divorced.
Related reading: 23 Little things to make your marriage stronger everyday
Our love for cooking keeps us together in the kitchen for hours, and then there are those TV sitcoms that we both love.
5. …But also pursue your own interests
While it is important to do things that you love as a couple, pursuing personal interests is also equally vital to the health of a marriage. The idea that you can divorce-proof your marriage by doing things that keep you apart can sound counter-productive, but these pursuits fuel a basic sense of self-love and gratification.
Doing something that you love brings you joy and keeps you feeling good about yourself, and only a person who feels content with their self can work toward harmony in a relationship. Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup. This way you do not feel lost in a life where you are only expected to fulfil the desires of your spouse and family desires.
You do not suffer from an identity loss. marriage brings about a lot of changes in the lives of both men and women, so keeping an old passion alive by pursuing it actively and making time for it no matter what helps you connect with an old part of yourself.
While I relish a book with some chai, he likes to binge-watch his movies.
Related Reading: 12 Characteristics Of A Successful Marriage
6. Divide the chores equally
Most of us today are blessed to have domestic help, so there is not much to do around the house. But whatever chores remain, make sure you both divide the tasks equally and stick to the rules. Though I don’t mind helping him out with his share of chores once in a while and he doesn’t care who does the dishes on the days the maid is off, we still like to do things according to the mutually agreed-upon division of tasks.
7. Talk about other things than kids and bills
This is one thing we had to work hard on. There would be days when we have nothing to talk about except kids, bills and lost sleep. My kids are just a year and a half apart, so for 5 years straight we had almost no social life. Not many friends came visiting and we were often too tired to take two babies anywhere.
We’d talk about baby food, baby poop, baby vaccinations and the monthly bills. It was only after I listened to one of my friends talking about the same problems that I decided to make it a point to talk to my husband about something other than these two things. This is one of the key factors that decrease your likelihood for divorce.
I started discussing politics with him, we started talking about new cars, the next vacation, and so on. We’d discuss things that were neither concerning the baby or the extended family. Though it is still a challenge, I believe we are improving gradually.
8. Take care of yourself
I believe that this is extremely important not just to divorce-proof your marriage but also if you’re exploring how to cheat-proof your marriage. I do not expect my husband to feel attracted to me if every time he looks at me, he sees a sleep-deprived wide-eyed monster. Or he comes near, and I smell of milk, pee and poop.
I like to dress up for him, put on some make-up and greet him with a smile. Similarly, he works out to keep his muscles, because he knows I like his well-formed physique. Both of us want to keep feeling attracted to each other and keep the spark alive – so we do take care of our appearances. This is how it works; we take care of ourselves, to take care of our marriage. This also gives each of us the message that we do not take each other for granted.
As a rule of thumb, it is a good practice to get out of those sweatpants and PJs, put a little effort into grooming your appearance to convey a sense of desire in the marriage. It may seem like an awful lot of work in the beginning, but you’ll be surprised to realise that it works wonders for your self-esteem too.
9. There are no ‘rules’ on having sex
The Internet is flooded with information on intimacy between a couple. From what is ideal sex to how many times a couple should have sex – you just have to look up, read and feel depressed. So while I told my husband that the web says we should have sex at least thrice a week – (we were having a go perhaps once a month!) – he laughed and said if I am ready, he is too.
And I realised, I wasn’t. With two babies in tow, sex was just off my mind. It was then I realised that those figures do not suit our marriage, and we were good the way we are. While it’s alright, recommended even, to explore ways to keep your relationship sparkling fresh and prevent a marriage from failing, you don’t have to feel pressured to follow every last bit of advice to the T. Unless you’re stuck in a sexless marriage, there is no need to feel alarmed. Take what works for you, tweak the tips and guides to suit your circumstances and guiltlessly toss away what doesn’t work for you.
While I jot these lessons down today, I hope you use some of them in your marriage and let us know if things improved for you. Or let us know if there is something else that can be done to divorce-proof your marriage. The motive stays the same, walk to the finish line holding hands.