Lifehacker recently had a great article — a post-mortem of one of their staff writer’s failed marriage and subsequent divorce. Thorin Klosowski looked over his marriage and tried to see what went wrong. There was no infidelity, no abuse and they got along great.
- Find the Right Ways to Communicate.
- Spouses may have different communications styles. He suggests using a technique that we mediators use called active listening. Repeat back what the other person said before responding.
- Talk (alone) for 10 minutes each day about something not relating to work, family, the kids, logistics of the day, the household or the relationship.
- Follow rules for effective communication:
- No name calling or personal insults. An idea might be stupid, but the person suggesting it is not.
- If a conversation becomes heated, step back to cool off but always phrase it along the lines of “I need to cool down for a few minutes. Let’s continue later.” Do not storm off.
- If you start a fight in front of your kids, make sure they see it resolve. Otherwise, they will not learn how to resolve their own disputes.
- Learn (and Address) Different Attachment Styles
- Attachment styles are how we handle emotional attachment—whether you are a person who shows affection outwardly or you are more reserved—and when two people with opposite styles marry, confusion can happen.
- Attachment styles can change. Couples need to tell each other what they need and be specific. For example, they can say, “I know it’s difficult for you to be affectionate in front of my friends, but at home I really need a hug every day.”
- Priority Changes Matter More Than You Might Think
- Discuss how much this difference or big change impacts each of you separately and impacts your relationship.
- Try to compromise.
- Work on accepting the differences and not taking it personally.
- Ruts Don’t Go Away on Their Own
- Mix things up and engage in new activities.
- Relationship Counselors Can Usually Only Help When Problems Start
- “A couples counselor or therapist can’t fix problems, they’re only going to walk you through the process of fixing them yourself. They’re worthwhile at pretty much any stage in the relationship if you’re in need of a little guidance. If it’s past the time where you’re both willing to do that, a counselor isn’t much help.”
Hopefully, these tips can help you. If not, consider mediation for your divorce. Sometimes using mediation to divorce can improve communications and understanding to the point of reconciliation. This happened to a few of my clients.