Learning about Divorce from Those Who Have Been DivorcedA couple of years ago, the Wall Street Journal published a piece called “Divorcé’s Guide to Marriage.” The title might be a little cheeky, but the contents of the article – a study of what divorcés believed were their biggest regrets – holds some weight, even now. Because the beginning of the year is the most “popular” time for couples to begin the process of seeking a divorce attorney, I thought it might be helpful to review some of those points raised in the WSJ.

Happiness matters

Dr. Terri Orbuch, who ran the study, said that 15% of the couples she worked with regretted not being more affirmative in their actions, which included everything from saying “I love you” to being affectionate. Dr. Orbuch said “there are four components of displays of affection that divorced people said were important: How often the spouse showed love; how often the spouse made them feel good about the kind of person they are; how often the spouse made them feel good about having their own ideas and ways of doing things; and how often the spouse made life interesting or exciting.”

If you and your spouse have been drifting away, or are not expressing affection or your love of one another, you could find yourself on the path to a divorce. If you really do want to have another go at your marriage, focusing on positive affirmations of your love and affection is a good first step.

Money drives everything

The number one conflict (cited by couples in the study) that led to divorce was financial: “49% of divorced people from [Dr. Orbuch’s] study said they fought so much over money with their spouse—whether it was different spending styles, lies about spending, one person making more money and trying to control the other—that they anticipate money will be a problem in their next relationship, too.” The conflict does not necessarily end when you decide to divorce, either. Having an honest conversation about your finances is a key component to making your marriage work, or to resolving the conflicts of your divorce.

Communication, communication, communication

Money may be the number one conflict, but lack of communication was the number one regret. Every relationship should be based on honest, open communication between two people. It isn’t always easy, but it’s always necessary. In order to have that conversation, you need to be willing to listen actively to your spouse, to get over the past and to stop trying to assign blame (the last two of these were also cited by the WSJ). It can be frightening to express displeasure or fear, to reveal anxieties or your own vulnerabilities, but marriage is a partnership; it’s about confronting those feelings together.

For some couples, though, even the best efforts and intentions don’t work out for a variety of reasons. Some face insurmountable obstacles; some fall out of love slowly and over time. Whatever reasons you have for wanting to divorce your spouse, they belong to you, and they don’t need to be justified to anyone (though they need to be explained to your spouse, if he or she doesn’t already know, and perhaps to your children if it’s in their best interest). But should you decide some day in the future to get married again, I hope you’ll take another look at that WSJ article, and see if there are some changes you and your new partner can make to ensure a better shot at happiness the second time around.

As a Maryville divorce lawyer, I help people get through one of the most difficult parts of their lives. If you are thinking about getting a divorce, please contact my office, Kevin W. Shepherd, Attorney at Law, and schedule a consultation. Together, we can review your options for a new future.

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