“It’s over. We filed for divorce today.” Read the WhatsApp text 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 was great, and nothing gave us the feeling 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 the 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 end with 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.
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.
There is no mantra that makes marriages work; there is no one shoe that would fit us all. However, there are certain things that are common to most marriages, and if we could pay some attention to these 9 points, we could be actually divorce-proofing our 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 keep sticking to each other. It is important that you two 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 you ended up being ‘right’ can be detrimental to any relation, marriage being one of them. Choose happiness over winning, be the first to drop an argument and focus on what matters 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 I learnt to let the checker go.
3. Keep finances in check, both of you
Finances can be a major reason for disconnect between spouses. Financial instability can wreak havoc on a marriage. When two people are committed to each other, they need to be open about their money as well. There should not be anything hidden, and they should work towards 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. Your budgets will have to be changed as your needs change. 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.
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, it is also important to do what you like the most. It keeps you feeling good about yourself and you feel like you have done something productive for yourself too.
While I relish a book with some chai, he likes to binge watch his movies.
6. Divide the chores, equally
With many of us depending on maids and helps, there is not much to do around a house. And whatever there is, make sure you both divide the tasks and stick by the rules. Though I don’t mind helping him, 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 agreed mental chart.
7. Talk about other things than kids and bills
This is one thing we really had to work hard on. There would be days when we had 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 nil 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 problem that I decided to make it a point to talk about something other than these two things. I asked him about politics, we started to talk about new cars, the next vacation, and so on. Though it is still a challenge, I believe we are improving gradually.
8. Take care of yourself
I personally believe that this is very important. I really do not hope my husband to love me or feel attracted to me if every time he looks at me I look like 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 the hardness.
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.
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 Net 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 are good the way we are.
So while I jot these lessons down today, I really hope you use some of them in your marriage and share if things improved. Or let us know if there is something else that can be done to make sure that divorce is off the records in a marriage. The motive stays the same, walk to the finish line holding hands. Wow!