Young children can be marriage breakers
“Having young children adds a tremendous strain and responsibility during a time of life that can already be tough,” Lewis says, citing this as a factor he sees in many divorces. Your children can either bring you closer together or drive you apart so be sure you’re taking as good care of each other as you are of the kids. Follow this advice from couples married 50+ years.
Marriage is tough no matter what age you get hitched
“It used to be we’d hear a lot of ‘I got married too young’ but now it’s the issues that come with trying to blend two established lives,” Lewis says. Getting married younger and getting married older both have their benefits and their trials. It isn’t about which one will be easier but rather about recognizing that all relationships take a lot of hard work. Here are 28 ways to make your marriage happier right now.
Make the hard decisions before you have to make the hard decisions
Death, disease, employment, family, location—people often prefer to avoid difficult conversations with their partner. But failing to speak frankly about these issues doesn’t mean you won’t have to face them, it just means you’ll be sorely unprepared when you do, Lewis says. Knowing what you will do about important issues before they are a problem is a big step to staying out of his office.
You need a real therapist
“I’ll listen to your story but I’m not a trained therapist,” Lewis says, adding that neither are your friends or your mother. If your relationship is in crisis and you don’t want to end up in divorce court, it’s important to see a certified marriage counselor. “The changes are small and gradual but I’ve seen it work in a lot of cases,” he says. Break these bad habits to avoid needing marriage counseling.
People change, for better or worse
It sounds obvious yet so many of us think that the person we married is going to stay exactly the same forever and we’re shocked when they don’t, Lewis says. Some changes improve people while others definitely don’t and surprisingly both types of change have landed couples in his office. To save yourself this kind of pain, learn to be flexible and accepting of change, even if you don’t like it at first.
It takes two to fight
It takes two people to get into a relationship and it takes at least that many to make it end, Lewis says. People who think their marriage problems are solely the fault of their partner are delusional and doomed to repeat the same mistakes. Instead of worrying about assigning blame, take a close look at your part and see what you can do to fix it. Here’s what happy couples do when they fight.
What you see is what you get
Marry the person you’re with, not the person you hope they’ll become someday, Lewis advises. “People go into a relationship thinking they can change the other person but they can’t,” he says of the all-too-common reason people end up needing his services. “Yet it can be really hard to let go of that but you knew what they were when you married them and you can’t expect them to change so either learn to love that person or let them go.”