Here’s an exclusive, guest post from Anita Chlipala, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, from Relationship Reality 312. Anita is wonderful relationship coach & a great friend of our Firm…
You contact a divorce attorney. You begin the process when a moment of doubt hits you. Is this the answer? Did we really try everything?
If you’re not sure whether to follow through with a divorce, you’re not alone. Studies show that between 25-30% of people start the process but still hope for reconciliation with their spouse.
As a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT), I work exclusively with romantic relationships, especially marriages. Couples come to me with an assortment of desires and goals, but one of the most common is to help them determine whether they can save their marriage. Equipped with some pertinent information and learning skills to help with their interactions, couples actually can save their marriage – and have a happy one, too.
4 things to consider before you finalize your divorce
1. You still have fondness for your spouse. Can you recall any good times? Do you look back on how you met or your first date with a smile? Can you list positive traits of your spouse that you still see to this day? When you’re spending time together, do you sometimes still get along and have fun? If you can muster up any positive times, there’s a good chance that you can still make your marriage work.
Friendship is the foundation of a solid marriage and helps fuel the positive feelings that are essential to keeping a marriage alive. By the time couples come to me for help, many have neglected their friendship over the years and have felt misunderstood and disconnected from each other. Working on the friendship has to be intentional – carving out time for one another, doing the things you used to do when you first got together, and overall just making your marriage a priority in your lives.
2. You think you don’t communicate well. How is this supposed to help your marriage if you don’t communicate well? Because communication problems are a reality for most couples. Having effective communication is one of the top goals of my clients. It doesn’t mean you’re not compatible or you shouldn’t be married, it just means that you may need some skills to help with understanding each other better and handling conflict more efficiently.
3. You think you have too many differences. The reality is that marital problems are inevitable. In fact, research shows that no matter who you are with, you will not see eye-to-eye on nearly two-thirds of issues. Do you disagree about the frequency of sex? If money should be saved or spent? Do you have different preferences in how to spend your free time? This is just a small sample of the many issues all couples have to negotiate. I teach my clients how to understand their spouse’s perspective and to honor and respect what is most important to their spouse, as well as to them. You will still get what you want, but marriage means flexibility and compromise. (But hey, being single doesn’t guarantee that you get what you want when you want it, either.)
4. You’re open to learning new skills. As I frequently tell my clients, no one is taught how to have a successful marriage. We may think that because “we love each other,” that love will naturally sustain a marriage. Unfortunately, this is not so. You have to protect your love in order for it to continue to thrive for a lifetime.
What’s amazing is that researchers have been studying healthy and happy marriages for decades and have been able to pinpoint certain behaviors and patterns that are absolutely essential for a marriage’s success. If you’re open to learning these new skills and gaining this knowledge, seek a therapist who specializes in couples therapy. You will receive the tools that you need to truly see if you can make it work and get the kind of marriage you and your spouse have always wanted.