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8 Ways to Avoid Divorce and Build a Better Marriage



Aquilino Polaino-Lorente - published on 04/22/15

Are these open secrets or hidden truths?

1. Communicating with your spouse is an essential element of prevention. What is not communicated is not shared. What is not shared creates separation. What separates leads to unbridgeable distances. And distances destroy unity. What breaks down unity ends up extinguishing and dissolving any relationship, until each of the spouses becomes a stranger for the other.

Silence and lack of communication are the greatest enemies of marriages. It is compelling that 82% of married Spanish women consider the lack of communication in marriage as the most frequent and most important problem for couples.

2. Respect and admire each other. Respect and admiration are also fundamental means of resistance against marriage conflicts. For a conflict to develop between the spouses, they must necessarily lose their admiration for each other.

When mutual admiration is extinguished, the loss of respect – at the beginning only in words and gestures – is near.
This initial loss of verbal respect sometimes carries over – all it takes is for a spouse to be more irritable than usual, or to "lose control" for a moment – into lack of physical respect; or, in plain English, into domestic violence.

It is very difficult for a couple to experience a crisis if they not only maintain their mutual admiration and respect, but increase it as the years go by.

3. Don’t shy away from difficulties or insist on differences. In order to try and solve problems, the first thing you have to do is identify them and deal with them then and there. 

If difficulties are silenced and put on the back burner, what was small will growand what was of little importance at first ends up exploding and triggering a crisis.

Sharing each other’s lives largely consists in learning to solve the little problems of each day successfully together.
The differences between men and women are indelible and unchangeable; it is not constructive to go back to them over and over again.

The differences that make each spouse unique are there for a noble purpose: they complement and enrich each other and help each other grow.

Respect for those unchangeable differences is an excellent opportunity for both to get to know themselves better.

4. It is essential to devote time, patience and tenderness to the other spouse. Love demands time, attention and dedication.

Whoever doesn’t pay attention, doesn’t understand. Those who are always in a rush don’t notice the situation of the other person, for the simple reason that they move through their shared space without allowing themselves to be impacted or affected by their spouse’s presence.

People who love each other must exercise the necessary patience, at least as much patience as is needed to raise and give a good education to a small child.

 If the above conditions are met, tenderness will grow and spread into the other spouse’s heart.Then, and only then, all the complaints about whether or not they have told each other that they love each other, or whether or not they admire each other, will cease, because tenderness is the objective demonstration of that love, a silent declaration more powerful than any words, which almost never goes undetected.

5Strive to lead a full and active sex life. Sexual relations are necessary in a couple’s life. They are not, of course, the most important thing, but they are one of the first conditions that define the couple and that must be satisfied.

Sexuality may – and, in fact, usually does – require a certain amount of effort, above all if – as ought to be the case in a marriage – each of the spouses forgets about him or herself and only thinks about fully satisfying the other.

Even here, mutual self-giving must be active and cannot be omitted, renounced or impeded.

It is not uncommon that couples at times use sexuality either to resolve other problems,when they were unable to come to an agreement, or, by withholding sex, to keep demanding, fighting and extending problems rooted in other areas of their married life whose content is very different.

The right way to deal with problems is that each one be resolved precisely in the context in which it arose, and to which it obviously belongs, without the spouses allowing themselves to take revenge in other contexts that are totally unrelated to the original one and cannot substitute it.

6. Establish and respect the other spouse’s necessary space for personal freedom. The fact that husband and wife are "one flesh" should not be understood as a union that leads to the fusion of the two and a loss of distinction between the individuals.

Marriage, of course, makes them one flesh, but at the same time – and this is a mystery – both conserve all of the unique characteristics of their genuine personalities.

Consequently, it is necessary to define the necessary space of personal freedom which is appropriate for each one of them and which the other neither can nor should attempt to invade or cease to respect.

In the professional life, for example, this is an ethical imperative that can never be trampled.

7. Keep a balanced and flexible division of tasks and roles. The diverse talents of each one of the spouses, their uniqueness and the efficiency that comes from division of labor demand that these duties be shared between them.

The most logical solution is that whoever is most gifted for a specific task or who can carry it out with the least effort should be the one to do it.

It’s not a matter of "lending a hand" with the least pleasant tasks just as an excuse for loading the other person down with more work. It’s simply a way of being more efficient, but without getting bogged down in functionalist utilitarianism.

This is why, if one of the spouses sees that the other one does some task or chore that requires a lot of work, he or she should take the initiative to do it sometimes, or to help the other do the job.

A couple doesn’t come together to take away from each other, but to give; they should multiply each other, not divide, focusing more on what joins them than what separates them.

In a certain way, a husband and wife become cofounders in equal parts of a single business, in which you cannot define exactly what belongs to each one, because what belongs to one also belongs to the other – because everything belongs to both.

Here, both are equally responsible, coexisting and co-participating in everything that happens to both.

8. Foment a certain extra solidarity: The very fabric of the couple is torn by incomprehension and the feeling of solitude. Being a couple means companionship, absence of solitude, communion.

It’s not uncommon to see couples who maybe love each other very much and are well balanced, but you can see that something is missing. They are husband and wife and excellent parents, but… they are not companions! The life of one has not been inseparable companionship for the life of the other.

In these cases, what is missing is the generosity to open up one’s interior life – often the most difficult thing to do – and offer it and give it with pleasure to the other.

When the two become companions – good companions, of course – the gift of intimacy overflows and gives rise to profound joy, which cannot be hidden. It is found in those who feel that they are companions, they truly are, in their work, dreams, desires, expectations, fantasies, expressions, feelings, projects, thoughts and memories.

Aquilino Polaino-Lorente contributed this article to the book, Divorce: How Can We Help the Children?published in March, 2015 by Stella Maris. This article was translated from Spanish by Matthew Green.

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