13 Ways to Strengthen a Marriage and Avoid Divorce

How to strengthen marriage and avoid divorce
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While divorce statistics fluctuate, it is estimated that about half of all marriages will end in divorce. And if children are involved, they are the ones who suffer the most. In fact, research has demonstrated that children are better off in a nuclear family. Unfortunately, though, there are far too many marriages that have ended in divorce.

Even though both husband and wife have a responsibility to build and strengthen the marriage and provide a stable environment for the children, there are many things men can do as husbands and fathers to protect and preserve their marriages. By being proactive, you can strengthen your relationship and avoid a divorce. Here are 13 things you can do to divorce-proof your marriage.

Banish Divorce from Your Thoughts

Just toying with the idea that you might be better off outside of the marriage can put a major strain on the relationship, even if you never voice your thoughts. In fact, that thought alone can cause a major break in your motivation to make the marriage better. To combat this risk to your marriage, decide ahead of time that divorce is not an option. Making this commitment will help you focus on how you can make the marriage better and stronger, rather than thinking about what life might be like outside the marriage.

Honor and Respect Your Partner

Granted, your partner may not be the same person she was when you married. But she is still worthy of respect and honor. She is an incredible person in her own right. To help remind yourself of the wonderful person you married, make a list of her most amazing and endearing qualities. This exercise will help you remember why you fell in love in the first place. It also helps to vocalize how much you appreciate your partner's little quirks and eccentricities, too.

Let your partner know every day that you appreciate all that she does. Find a way to thank her or compliment her.

These little expressions are like deposits in the bank. You don't want to make withdrawals from your marriage without ever making any deposits. So, be sure you are doing things that honor your wife for who she is.

Communicate on a Regular Basis

There is no substitute for talking regularly about everything, including feelings. Our wives feel intimate with us when we share openly about our lives, our interests, our dreams, and our expectations. Likewise, women also appreciate when their spouses take an interest in their lives and listen to what they are thinking about, worrying about, and dreaming about.

But sometimes, talking to one another can be a challenge when busy schedules get in the way. For this reason, it's helpful if spouses set aside 30 minutes each day without interruptions where they can just talk. Effective communication is an important way to strengthen marriage and will help ward off divorce.

Share Financial Expectations and Budgets

Many marriages are fraught with disagreements over finances. Often couples bring different expectations about money to a relationship and find it difficult to see the other person's perspective. Coming to an agreement on how to handle money together is a critical component of successful marriages. Agree on a budget and an approach to debt and then live within your limits.

For some couples, it's important to differentiate between a need and a want. While both are legitimate, couples face problems if they try to fulfill all their wants without considering their budget. Likewise, couples also should incorporate some flexibility in their budget to allow for entertainment, gifts, vacations, and other things that help strengthen the marriage.

Give Her the Right Amount of Space

One of the hardest things to balance in a marriage is the right amount of time to spend together. Too much time together is smothering while too little time can be interpreted as inattentive. So, when your wife needs some space or a night out with her girlfriends, offer to watch the kids so she can go.

Sometimes men forget that their wives also are very busy mothers with many demands their time. So, be sensitive to the demands she's facing and lighten her load when you can.

It's also important to make time for her. Do not spend all of your time at the office or golfing with your buddies. And, if you cannot go out on actual dates due to babysitting issues or lack of funds, plan a date night at home. The key is that you both are making a concerted effort to spend quality time together, but allowing one another the space to have friends as well.

Take Care of Yourself

Sometimes wives become disappointed with marriage when their spouses start to fall apart physically. As a result, men should make an effort to take care of themselves. Shave and shower on the weekends; make time to exercise and eat right. Gaining weight and not taking good care of yourself can be a turn-off for some women.

And the better care you take of yourself, the more likely she is to care more about her appearance too. If your wife is interested, you could take walks together, go to the gym together, and prep healthy meals together on the weekends. This way, living a healthy lifestyle becomes a way of life for both of you.

Keep Up the Courting

One of the best ways to keep the flame burning in a marriage is to continue courting your wife. Make time for a "date night" every week, even if it is just a drive out for a milkshake or an ice cream cone. If times are lean, trade babysitting with another couple; or put the baby in a stroller and walk around the mall or go to the park.

It also helps to continue doing the things you did when you were dating. Leave her little love notes where she will find them. Bring her a single rose or a sunflower occasionally.

Making small gestures to show that you love her will go a long way in keeping a marriage strong. In fact, many couples report that these gestures help them feel like newlyweds.

Forgive Quickly

Often marriages begin to fall apart when one partner or another holds a grudge. In fact, research has shown that feeling contempt or resentment toward your partner almost always festers and can lead to divorce if it is never resolved. As a result, try to forgive your partner as quickly as possible.

Besides, forgiveness is a gift that you give yourself more than one you give your partner. It is a lot of work to hold a grudge and almost always impacts your health and stress levels if you hold onto resentment. So, refuse to hold grudges and opt for a forgiving spirit.

And, if you have wronged your partner in some way, be sure to sincerely apologize and ask for forgiveness. Truly listen to what she has to say and why she is upset. This way, you will understand where she is coming from and how to do things differently in the future.

Don't Try to Control Your Partner 

Give her room to be the person she is and learn to collaborate on decisions. In healthy marriages, both partners have mutual respect for one another and do not demand their own way. They also allow their spouse the freedom to come and go without having to ask permission. They do not monitor or control one another. And, they certainly do not control the purse strings. Be sure you are collaborating with your partner on any big decisions.

Partners that try to control one another often become emotionally abusive or display signs of financial abuse, which almost certainly will lead to divorce.

Get Help Before It's Too Late

If you are still having challenges or you fear that divorce might be imminent, consider getting counseling or couples therapy right away. Often your workplace (or hers) will have access to an employee assistance program (EAP), where you can receive some initial help or get a referral. You also could consider meeting with a trusted religious leader if you share faith and then move beyond that if needed. The important thing is that you make every effort to avoid divorce if you can.

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