Saving a marriage under stress. Best tips for keeping out of the divorce courts.
By: Adv. Jay Hait, Family Law Specialist
I am sure you all know that I am a family law attorney and not a couples therapist. I am not a marriage counselor. I am not a psychologist. However, in my line of work I do get to see a lot of people (even if it's only through video conferencing nowadays) on an everyday basis, and I have gotten a lot of insights into some of the things that make strong marriages stay strong.
But even strong marriages are very stressed when whole families are living in nearly total lock down.
Add to that the regular stress added by Passover - although I guess that this year there is a lot less fighting over where everybody is going to be and which guests they will be inviting….
Taking all of that into account, and in light of the fact that even in normal situations the weeks before Passover are weeks during which people tend to have a lot more tension in their lives and to fight more often with their spouses, I would like to share with you a list of hints that people with stronger marriages have told me helped them stay together. I get these tips (and have compiled them) because I tend to ask my elder law clients with long term marriages what helped them to stay together. I have put in brackets my own additions to what they have said to me.
More articles from Adv. Hait
- Continuing power of attorney (CPA)
- Thinking about divorce - what are some of the NON LEGAL issues?
- Protecting gifts
- Kidnapped children!
I know that not all the tips are relevant for everyone but pick and choose if anything sounds good to you or speaks to you then I recommend that you use it during this hard time.
So here goes….
- Say these words to each other everyday “Can I help you?”
- Don't assume that your spouse knows you appreciate what they do for you. Say thank you.
- Make sure that you have some of your own things that you do
- Don't let your kids find ways to turn you against each other
- Give compliments. Whenever you find the opportunity to compliment your spouse, just do it
- Even during tough times, try to have some fun with each other.
- If you aren’t able to have love gratitude and compassion for your spouse then your relationship isn't going to survive
- Make rules for fighting. Then stick to them even when you fight [I loved this one - and the elder lady who said it to me - JH]..
- Try everyday to give each other a hug or hold hands or snuggle every day.
- Do things for your spouse without expectations and try not to get into this for that relationship of doing things for each other only as parts of exchanges
- If you can't speak with each other without ending up yelling then separate and try writing [I guess today would be texting or emailing JH] - don't scream and let it turn into a whirlwind
- Make a little time to be alone with each other every day - even if it's only half an hour that the two of you can be together and talk and do something that you enjoy doing, that'll give your relationship batteries a boost for the times when you can't take each other
- Know when to stop and back off. Sometimes when we argue the best thing to do is just walk away and not to continue and not to allow our spouse to drag us into continuing
- Make a date night and stick to it no matter what. [My thoughts - It may sound odd - but even during these times (in other words even if you have little kids) it is probably a good idea to set one night a week where both of you agree to do this even after the children are have gone to sleep - i.e. to be together and do what you enjoy doing see a movie have a cup of wine together etc. JH]
- Give each other some alone time. Whether it's for work or just for wind down time make sure that there's a certain amount of time that your spouse doesn't have to deal with the kids or chores. It doesn't have to be long. If you both have your own alone time it will help to lower the tensions between you.
- Try to recognize the real issue. [In this carona induced shut down, we’re all in a high-stress situation. Many times stress is the real the source of the argument. Try to identify if thats the case and if what either of you said or did was because of that - and if so then don't blame your spouse - JH]
- Don't laugh at your spouse but laugh together as much as possible
- Be good communicators. Don't speak at the same time but give each other turns to talk - even in the middle of arguments - maybe especially in the middle of arguments
- Always remember that you are a team
- Remember that something that's really important to your spouse should be a priority for you, because if they're happy it'll be less stressful for them and better for your relationship
- Don't lose sight of the big picture - you are with your spouse because you love them and they may not always be there. Try to remember that.
- Remember that you have a strong marriage and that together you'll be able to survive whatever hurdles are thrown at you
- Remember that your spouse really is your best friend
- No matter what argument you're having, never bring up the word “divorce”. Not even in joking
- Split the chores and daily tasks with each other - even make a list of who does what which days
- Don't be embarrassed if one of you or both of you need to speak to a psychologist together [and remember there are plenty of people doing that to resume these days high high pressure times -JH]
As I said, I am not a mental health professional and am definitely not a marital counselor. However I do see a lot of people in high-pressure situations, and I do see the types of habits that they tell me about that work for them. I hope that you and/or your spouse can identify with some of the tips that I have collected through years, and that they can help you to get through these rough times and survive corona and this Passover season without damaging your relationship.
Wishing all of you and your families a happy and kosher Passover
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