Divorce is letting the obstacles pile up to create a grand canyon of distance. Nobody lives in a paradise of love & agreement. If they do it’s still the beginnings or it’s a false reality where one person is swallowing too much or withholding who they really are. Loving enjoyment of each other combined with disagreement or conflict are both natural, ordinary patterns of being together.

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Divorce Prevention 101

Divorce is letting the obstacles pile up to create a grand canyon of distance. Nobody lives in a paradise of love & agreement. If they do it’s still the beginnings or it’s a false reality where one person is swallowing too much or withholding who they really are. Loving enjoyment of each other combined with disagreement or conflict are both natural, ordinary patterns of being together.

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My favorite god from India is the Hindu god Ganesha who is revered as the remover of obstacles. When you are teamed up with someone you have to decide to be serious about removing obstacles. Every couple has obstacles to overcome. When you let the obstacles pile up to create a grand canyon of distance you are likely doomed to end up in divorce.

#1.  Shift your attitude from the negative narrative! What is the story you tell yourself about all your partner’s negative traits? Seriously explore how in love are you with blaming the other person? What tired misery have you believed about them that leaves you wondering if divorce is a better option? You’ve heard of rose colored glasses? Well, these are the opposite, opaque glasses that you unable to see through because you’ve already decided how impossible your partner is. Your partner is human like you, annoying like you & stupid like we all can be. 

Watch the wonderful british actress Nicola Walker in both seasons of The Split. She plays a divorce lawyer dealing with other’s divorce & contemplating her own in season 2. There is such a mixture of harsh realities & false narratives that people tell themselves that make it well worth watching. 

#2. Deal with your stash of resentments. What grudges are you keeping that your partner is unaware of? People are under the false impression that staying silent & collecting resentments is somehow more virtuous. It’s really just cowardly. When it comes to intimate relationships we as a culture have become even more cowardly. It’s become the norm to deflect & avoid honestly dealing with problems & then later on you are entitled to one giant dump on the other person. 

Sometimes people are so busy being nice that they end up really being untrustworthy because they are not honest enough. The Big Bad Wolf was really nice to Little Red Riding Hood; nice & untrustworthy. So if your partner is super nice, kind & people pleasing you might want to probe more deeply into silent resentments.

I want to interject some of Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth into couples everywhere. It is silence of resentments that builds over time to destroy relationships. Speak up instead of hoarding your grudges if you really want to have relationship longevity.

#3.  Accept your partner’s differences….they will always be wired differently. In fact these are the qualities you first fell in love with that were missing in yourself. Someone who can be enthusiastic which was exciting to begin with is now annoying because they can take up too much room in a relationship. Someone who was delightful because they were so nice, now seems boring because they don’t take up enough room in the relationship. The truth is that you both have something to learn from each other. It is an ordinary pattern that in years 6-10 we get tired of what attracted us to begin with, this is when the real work of being in a relationship begins because the romance & illusions lose their power to enchant. It’s up to you to decide to learn how to accept and live with the differences.

#4.  Be vulnerable enough to reach out & take responsibility for your part in problems. If you don’t have the ability to confront yourself; find a therapist who will help you look at your own dark side & not just listen to you blame others. Self-confrontation is a quality that can help prevent divorce. It’s so important I will soon devote a whole new episode to it.

#5. Give up criticism & self righteousness. Learn to consider your partner’s way of looking at things. You are not clones thank goodness! It would be so boring to be the same. Try being curious instead of critical; this could lead to a very important attitude shift that prevents divorce. When you indulge your criticisms you are often bordering on the ugliness of contempt. Many people have a habit of living with contempt for decades which is one of the most sad ways to spend all those years because they end up poisoned. If it’s an ugly way to live, why do people doit? Because it’s a misguided belief that they are safe being so critical. Whenever we do something kooky, it’s because we get something out of it. Often people’s kooky belief systems are all about feeling powerful because really deep down they are insecure. I’m going to say that again because it is such an important time for kooky beliefs; just one example: my right to breathe is more important than wearing a mask. Often people’s kooky belief systems are all about grasping at feeling powerful because really, way deep down they are insecure. Kooky beliefs help you pretend to be powerful like the great & terrible Wizard of OZ hiding behind the curtain.

#6.  Lack of respect is the primary reason people get a divorce. Respect leaves room for you to not like things about each other. Respect is more important than love when it comes to a long lasting relationship. The ultimate test of respect is letting someone else influence you to think differently. Respect your partner enough so that you allow them to influence you especially at those moments where they are helping you look at yourself to be a better person.

I still remember how awful I felt when my husband told me I needed to apologize to a guest. It was really really hard to let go of my defensiveness & admit he was right. When you really love somebody you are willing to grow up & change; that’s the beauty of real love which won’t lead to divorce.

#7.  Give up the idea of romance. Beginnings of love can be so fabulous but that’s not the real definition of love. So many divorce conversations start with “I’m not in love with you anymore”. Being in love is so easy because it’s not about hard work, sacrifice or facing problems & solving them together. Accepting the reality that relationships require work will prevent divorce.

My definition of real love is doing the work of solving how to be a team when you are both so different. Too often people have a fantasy it will be so much better with someone else. This might be true. If you are bringing your gigantic pile of silent expectations to dump on a new relationship, you will continue a pattern of not being fulfilled.

#8.  Accept arguments are part of living with the differences.  Figure out how to argue with respect instead of the ugliness of contempt. Learn to value and consider two perspectives at the same time. Give up needing to win or needing to be right. Learn to compromise which means you win some & you lose some & you will reduce your chances of divorce.

#9.  Always, Always, always, always talk about hard things in 50 conversations For a second time in this episode I’m going to say this again because it’s just that important. (repeat) Give up the fantasy it will be solved in one magical talk. Learn that it takes 25 or 75 conversations to begin to soften the hard edges of your differences. THE POINT is the softening which creates more openness & being less closed off.

#10.  Be authentic enough to ask for what you want & be willing to educate your partner on who you really are. If they really love you absolutely does not mean they are psychic & should know what to do. It’s your job to make sure you are understood. A demand for your partner to play a silent guessing game to determine whether or not you are really loved is just as effective as the childhood game of picking petals off a daisy. It’s really nothing more than a set up for trouble.

My Challenge For You Today: Go to my website therapyideas.net & print out the transcript of this page or listen again & write down the 10 divorce prevention tactics. Which ones do you need to work on &improve? Which do you believe your partner needs to improve? Ask them to listen & do the same. Then exchange the papers & have a real discussion on what you both can do to improve your relationship.

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