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You’re in a committed relationship, bravo. But what if things take a turn? Or you hit an unexpected rough patch? We asked seasoned, Manhattan-based divorce attorney Cari Rincker, owner of Rincker Law, to share her advice for the best marriage tips to divorce-proof your relationship.
1. Be Open About Your Finances
When people are going through a divorce, they are almost always fighting over money. More often than not, financial problems—including the inability to discuss purchases or debts—are a symptom of other issues affecting the marriage. Couples should feel comfortable talking about money issues with one another (and revealing all) in order to keep their relationship intact.
2. And Remember to Support Each Other Through Life Events
It’s easy to assume the top reason for divorce is infidelity, when, in fact, it’s usually tied to a life event. The loss of a job or family member, serious illness or children with medical issues are all things that disrupt, well, life. It's nearly impossible to anticipate these hurdles, but undoubtedly, they will test a marriage bond. When a couple faces a challenge, they need to brace themselves and do their best to stick it out and support each other.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Out a Therapist
When the going gets tough, the tough get counseling. There is no stigma or shame. And here’s the thing: Some couples should seek out a couples’ therapist while others should see individual therapists. Taking the time to speak to someone who is completely objective—together or separately—can be both cathartic and immensely helpful. (Just be sure you check with your health insurance provider about coverage before you book an appointment to trim the cost.)
4. And Don’t Forget: You’re On the Same Team
In so many divorce cases, it’s completely apparent that, at some point along the way, the couple stopped working together as a team. But how do you strengthen that unity? It may seem counterintuitive, but spending quality alone time to establish independence and focus on individual self-care needs can enhance a couple’s connection. It’s also important to schedule regular date nights, even if it’s just Netflix and sharing a bottle of wine on the couch.
5. Actively Listen While the Other Person Is Talking
…aka don’t just wait until it’s your turn to speak. It’s unfortunate to see great couples lose track of how to communicate and how to really listen to each other. Sometimes people just want to be heard. Active listening—where you reflect back on what the other person said before speaking again—is essential to maintaining a healthy, fulfilling relationship.
6. And Remember That It’s the Little Things that Count
Believe it or not, the number one day for divorce is the day after Valentine’s Day. (It’s called "D-Day," really.) Couples get divorced on February 15 for a variety of reasons, but it’s often due to a disappointing Valentine’s Day. After barely surviving the stressful December holidays together, the disappointment from a lackluster Valentine’s can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The takeaway: Couples should take the time and energy to make each other feel special, and not only on Valentine’s Day. It’s the small but impactful gestures that tend to be the most meaningful, like bringing a cup of coffee made just the way they like it first thing in the morning or even just sending an "I love you" text randomly during the day. These minor acts of love and appreciation can be much greater than the sum of their parts.