Strengthen Your Marriage Divorce expert Joel Schwartz offers young married couples simple ways to stay out of his office. BY JOEL SCHWARTZ
These ten tips will help strengthen your marriage and bring your closer together.
Couples who married in their 20s or 30s don’t have to become divorce statistics. That's what divorce attorney Joel Schwartz of the West Los Angeles law firm Nachshin & Weston, LLP, a firm catering to the celebrity community, says.
According to Schwartz, many couples who married in their 20s, and early to mid-30s are often married for the first time and tend to be more naïve and idealistic about their marital futures. Sadly, Schwartz points out, they don’t think they’ll become part of the 52-percent whose marriages dissolve. "If younger marrying couples would consider guidelines they can follow to keep their relationship flourishing, rather than setting themselves up for a breakup before they reach thirty or forty," says Schwartz, "many younger couples would find they might stay married for the long-term."
Schwartz offers a 10-tip list of considerations:
1. Keep communication open. You should feel comfortable discussing any and all issues with your spouse. Write it, say it, communicate it, but always express it.
2. Find common interests that are ongoing. Activities/interests that the two of you can enjoy as a couple is key to fulfillment in a marriage. If you enjoy playing golf together today, chances are you will through every decade of your marriage. If it’s camping, theater, tinkering in the garden—it doesn’t matter—just make time to do it together on a consistent basis.
3. Take time for your "self" interests. Often, younger couples get absorbed in one another and forget to nurture their own personal interests. Strike a fine balance between common interests and those that allow for some freedom and space.
4. Show compassion. Out of sheer idealism and romanticism, younger couples tend to become quickly intolerant of their spouse’s shortcomings. Keep telling yourself, "nobody’s perfect!" Not your spouse or you.
5. Check your expectations. Many young marriages fail because people expect too much, not only from one another, but the concept of marriage itself. If the picture of what you thought marriage would be doesn’t match how it turns out to be for you, get real! Marriage is like running a business: sometimes it’s a tough job; other days it pays huge dividends.
6. Set some joint goals. But do so as soon as possible. Many couples quickly find out that what they thought were common goals for the near future, e.g., she wants four kids—he wanted only one—can be the very issue that pulls them apart before they reach 30 or 40.
7. Remember you’re partners, not just lovers. If you’re looking for only ecstasy and have no patience for the agony that all relationships encounter, you’re setting yourself up for a rough ride and probably a divorce. Marriage is a partnership, not an affair.
8. Commitment is 24/7. A lack of maturity is often to blame when it comes to divorce among 20-to early 30-something couples, and that includes the absence of resolve to be a solid partner every day, not simply on the days when a person feels like it.
9. Keep your finances in check. One of the most common reasons people divorce is due to over-extending themselves financially. It’s easy to be a little reckless with spending when you’re 20- or 30-something. What helps to keep spending in check though is to agree to one bank card. Set a limit for how much you can afford to charge on that card and stick to it.
10. Forget the "baby will bring us closer" plan. Having a baby brings great joy to couples, usually, but it also creates a tremendous amount of stress. If you think your marriage is faltering and having a baby will change all that (i.e., bring you closer together), think again. Nine times out of 10, it’s quite the opposite. Wait until the two of you are on solid ground together before you add anyone else to your family.
Joel Schwartz handles all aspects of family law and is particularly interested in disputes involving younger couples. For more information visit www.nwdivorce.com. Or contact Cherie Kerr (firstname.lastname@example.org) for an interview with Schwartz.