Figures show that divorce rates have been coming down in recent years, but your chances of getting married and staying married are still a toss-up. In the United States, for instance, the national divorce rate is still hovering around one divorce for every two marriages. In short, the tough reality is that you become a candidate of divorce the moment you say ‘I do’. From that moment onwards, you walk with the invisible axe of divorce hovering over your marriage, ready to strike.
This is not good news for married people, especially those who believe that a marriage is for life. More so considering the fact that, regardless of one’s wish and effort to preserve a marriage, there is very little one can do when it is one’s partner who wants to leave. You cannot force him to stay or to love you for that matter.
But instead of fighting divorce after it has already shown up on your doorsteps, how about stopping it from visiting your home, in the first place? You may not be able to stop your man from leaving after he has made up his mind, but you can stop him from thinking about it.
So, instead of fighting to save your marriage after everything has fallen apart, you are better off spending time building your relationship on a strong foundation that can withstand the whirlwind of divorce that is sweeping across the nations.
Start by Understanding the Causes of High Divorce Rates
Although there are several factors that have caused a spike in divorce in recent decades, none have had such a major impact on the phenomena than the coming of gender equality and the changing of divorce laws to be favourable to both men and women.
In the old days, women mostly stayed married. It was a must for one to stay in marriage because, outside marriage, there was no other way of having a livelihood for women. Women had no right to property – land, houses or cattle. So, once a woman was tossed out of a matrimonial home, that was the end of life for her. Her only option was to go back to her parents and live off her father’s land, if the brothers would let her, as that was their inheritance. Otherwise, she was on her own – destitute, with no husband.
In modern times, however, things are very different. A woman needs no man to survive. She can own property, earn a living, have a career and even earn more money than her husband. As a result, the only reason a woman really needs to stay married is out of choice rather than out of necessity.
In other words, if she does not like the marriage she is in, a woman can choose to walk away with no fear of destitution. As a result, there are many women today, who walk out of marriages who could not have done so in the days when women were dependent on men. This factor has brought new numbers to the pool of divorce statistics that were not there before, thereby contributing to the increased rate of divorces today.
Further, in order to level the playing field, many countries have modified their divorce laws to suit both parties. Originally, divorce laws mostly favoured men, leaving women with nothing, especially if they had no job or no property to their name. Following the changing of these laws, it is not uncommon for most women to walk away with half of the family estate.
As a result women, today, have one less reason to stay in a bad marriage. In other words, there are women who go ahead with a divorce who would otherwise not have done so had the laws been less encouraging.
Get Out of the High Risk Neighbourhood
Confronting and dealing with the very factors that are fanning the divorce rate should be the first step of reducing your odds of ending up with a broken marriage.
A better understanding of issues of women liberation, for example, will help you a lot in avoiding divorce. There is nothing wrong with a woman being more educated or earning more money than the man of the house. If anything, this is to the advantage of the family as it is one way of instilling a spirit of gender equality in children, especially girl children. What can become a problem, however, is when the woman of the house allows her superior education or earning power to cause her to stop respecting her partner.
A man is called the head of the house because it is his natural responsibility to stake out a home and protect his family. It is natural for a man to feel territorial and to feel responsible for providing for and protecting his family. The woman’s role, on the other hand, is to nurture and care for the family. Man is territorial; woman is nurturing, giver of life. Different roles but equal partners in the family unit.
So you will understand why men flinch when a woman starts calling the shots in the house. He may choose to remain quiet but, inside his heart, he will resent every moment of the situation and when he cannot stand it anymore, he will simply leave.
All this can be avoided by ensuring that a woman’s increased role in the home does not bring disrespect to the man. Men value respect and when they are respected they will reciprocate with love. It is possible for a woman to be the breadwinner and still treat her spouse as an equal partner and showing him respect. In short, the decision to be or not to be a good wife is yours. And you can become one even if you are a successful CEO of a multimillion company. Many have done it before you.
As far as legal reform is concerned, the primary objective for leveling the field was to protect women from abusive and repressive divorce laws. While this is welcome news to all, a woman will do herself a lot of good to orient her mind towards believing that she is in the marriage for the long haul and, therefore, the issue of divorce does not arise at all. As your mind thinks, so you are. But if divorce and, particularly, divorce settlements are the first things that come to your mind every time you have a disagreement with your husband, then you are already started on that journey.
Once you develop that kind of mentality, the idea is planted in your mind. Before you know it, you will start speaking it, answering back with threats of leaving and taking your husband to the cleaners. Unfortunately, once you get on that train, there is no going back and, sadly, that will be the beginning of the end of your marriage.
Again, there is nothing wrong with leaving a bad marriage. The point being made, here, is that if you set your mind on staying married for life, you are likely to succeed. And if you start thinking of how and what you can get out of a marriage if things go south, then chances are, sooner or later, you will get divorced. Thinking about divorce or how divorce law will protect you in bad times when, in fact, things are not bad, is to tempt fate.
By positively managing issues of equal partnership in a marriage in the face of gender equality and by changing your mindset around divorce and settlements, you will reduce your odds divorce. Think of it like relocating from a high-risk neighbourhood to a safer one in order to avoid being mugged. While you may still get mugged in a safer neighbourhood, chances of that happening are very low because the odds are in your favour.
In any case, there are further actions you will need to take in your new neighbourhood in order to protect your home from being broken into. It is called burglar proofing your home. And that is what you need to do to your marriage in order to avoid a divorce.
Divorce Proof Your Marriage
Having moved to a safer neighbourhood does not mean you should stop locking your doors. You still need to take precautions by ensuring that your house is burglar proof.
Similarly, take steps to ensure that trouble does not find easy access into your marriage. Look at what could be the weak points that would easily let trouble into your marriage. Communication, money, sex and substance addictions are some of the slippery areas that have taken many a marriage to their grave. Deal with them the moment they show their glaring heads. Shoot them before they grow.
Insure Your Marriage Against Divorce
A partner who also happens to be your best friend cannot divorce you. Period. Even if your life falls apart due to your own irresponsible behavior, like drug abuse, this type of husband will still find it very hard to let you go. It is only under the most difficult of conditions that he may leave, but even then, it will be the hardest decision he will have to make. Otherwise, he will stick by you because that is what good friends do.
So, if this type of husband will never divorce you, why then are you not best friends with your husband? That is a question for you to answer. But once you are done searching yourself, start working on your friendship with your partner.
Remember, friendship is an action word. So make a to-do-list for your friendship activities and follow it up every week. Have some time alone, every week, and evaluate how you did on the list.
If you keep at it you will soon start seeing results. Your man will start finding it hard to do without the little things you do for him, especially when he travels out of town. He will start looking forward to coming home to you from work, from a trip. He will start looking forward to the weekend with you, the date night. Before you know it you will become the best of friends.
And friends like those do not get divorced easily.