Avoiding Divorce: Is It Possible?

Over half of first marriages end in divorce. While almost everyone eventually remarries, at least 60% of those second marriages lead to divorce. Divorce is the most common among the newly married, but even couples who have been married for decades are not immune. Despite the numbers, however, there is good news. Barring abuse or other seriously damaging actions, divorce is a choice. In most cases, the marriage can be saved. Certainly, saving the marriage  is not necessarily the best or most realistic option. You and your spouse will need to do what is right for you. If you are willing to try, here is a guide to how to proceed. If you think estate taxes are frightening, try the cost of divorce.

You Must Be In It Together
This is the most basic and unchangeable reality for couples who are considering divorce. If either of you is not fully committed to making the marriage work, then there is little that can be done. You did not
create the situation alone, and you cannot fix the situation alone. Express your continued desire to work things out, but do not put yourself in the position of remaking yourself in an attempt to make your partner stay.

Set Up a Time to Talk
If you have both decided to save the marriage, you will need some uninterrupted time to discuss your relationship. Send the kids to their grandparents' house or leave town for the weekend. You need time alone together with no distractions. Ideally, you will have two or three days. However, even one evening can go a long way towards reestablishing communication.

Write Down Your Points
Prior to your meeting, you and your spouse should both write out the main issues that you see in the relationship. Be careful with this. Stick to major issues rather than day to day annoyances. Prioritize your issues and try not to address too  many at once.

Set Ground Rules
The purpose of the meeting is for
both partners to lay out their feelings and concerns. It is not the time to make repetitive points, have angry outbursts, nitpick or argue semantics. Set rules for your communication, such as avoiding raised voices and allowing each other to finish a complete thought.

Be Supportive
Although it may difficult to remember, your partner is a person to whom you were once deeply devoted. The love may be buried, but it is obviously still there or you would not be trying so hard. Listen supportively to the things that your partner says. Diffuse your own defensiveness and try to really understand what he or she is saying. Ask questions to clarify your own understanding.

End on a Positive Note
No matter how many painful issues are discussed, it is important that you end the talk on a positive note. Acknowledge your love for each other. Segue into a lighthearted conversation on a non-controversial topic. Do not press points or reengage in the discussion.

nPut Your Plan into Action
Over the next days and weeks, remember the discussion. Put your new plan into action. Do special things for your spouse to show your love, from bringing home flowers to cooking a special meal. Acknowledge the things that your spouse does for you as well. Strive together to make the necessary changes. However, you must avoid the temptation to set up tests for your spouse. He or she is only human, and change takes time. Appreciate her successes and make allowances for setbacks. You have the right to expect the same in return.

Set Regular Discussions
Your marriage will not be fixed after the first meeting. You will need to set up regular, ongoing times to discuss your progress. Try to avoid fighting in between discussions. Instead, agree to disagree until the next scheduled discussion time. Engage the help of a marriage counselor if necessary.

Not every marriage can or should be saved. However, if you are both
committed to working things out, your chances of success are fairly high. Patience, love, communication and appreciation for your individual differences are powerful tools. Learn to use them to your advantage and you may be able to avoid divorce and rekindle a happy and healthy marriage.