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How to Prevent a Marriage from Falling Apart -​ From a Lawyer Who’s Helped Over 1,000 Couples Divorce

Statistically speaking, your marriage is in trouble. The numbers are not on your side, with 53% of marriages ending in divorce (41% of first marriages). Add another 10% to that to account for marriages that have failed, but couples stay together for children or for religious reasons, and you get closer to the reality that most marriages don’t work.

“Marriage is like the lottery,” James Sexton says, “you’re probably not going to win, but if you do, what you win is so good it’s worth buying a ticket for.”

Sexton is a New York-area divorce attorney and the author of the book If you’re in my office, it’s already too late. In her two decades of work, Sexton has led more than 1,000 couples to divorce. His candor stems from his deep understanding that marital bliss can easily go bankrupt.

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So if you bought or are thinking of buying the ticket that Sexton is talking about, what can you do to counter the odds? He says to keep an eye on the little things. The little slip-ups and mishaps that, although harmless, can turn out to be disastrous over time.

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“Marriages tend to fall apart in two ways: very slowly and then all of a sudden,” he says. “Just like how people go bankrupt.

Not a single drop of rain is responsible for the flood, but the flood is coming. Sexton says a lot of people finally walk into his office because of a big problem like business, impropriety or financial infidelity. “But these big developments are usually a function of a shift that has happened over a period of time.”

And while he says you may not be acting like Dr. Strange and visualizing all possible outcomes of your marriage and finding the best plan, Sexton has a variety of suggestions that will reduce the likelihood of getting into the office of a divorce lawyer. “It’s like there’s no way to protect your body from disease,” he says. “But you would never say, ‘Because I can’t prevent all diseases, I might as well smoke cigarettes. “”

As such, Sexton laid out some trouble spots that can lead all couples to divorce and how to course-correct as quickly as possible.

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Advice from a divorce lawyer on how to prevent a marriage from falling apart, before divorce is the only option left:

1. Never stop communicating openly and honestly

It’s shocking, says Sexton, how often communication is the first thing in marriage. Between the stresses of everyday life, dealing with work issues, shuttling kids from office to office, visits from in-laws, and vacations, couples often brush off resolving issues. Eventually, Sexton says, these problems will catch up with you.

“You’re not being upfront and direct with each other about what’s going on in your head and in your heart,” he says. “I think the solution is active communication. Frank and honest communication. Because ultimately the truth about your marriage and the truth about how it works and doesn’t work is revealed. I’d rather have it come out in a conversation between two people before they get too far than to have it come out in a courtroom.

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2. Stop swallowing your feelings

One of the many outdated platitudes a married man hears during or around his marriage, and continues to hear throughout their marriage, is: “Happy wife, happy life.” This is often followed by “There are two words you need to learn, ‘Yes my dear!'”

While Sexton acknowledges that some of these adages bring up the idea of ​​choosing your battles, he also says they can spell trouble in a marriage.

“They’re a great recipe for people creating resentment among themselves,” he says. “Because what they’re really saying is, ‘Swallow your feelings, even if you’re unhappy with something or even if something’s not right for you, just agree with your wife. “”

To avoid this pitfall, he says, there must be give and take where each person feels like their voice is heard. “It’s like Chris Rock said in his Netflix special, sometimes you have to play the tambourine,” he says. “You don’t always have to be the lead singer at the wedding. Sometimes you just have to be the one playing the tambourine.

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3. Ditch the boring routine

“I wrote an article recently that basically said that with great intentions, people ruin their sex lives and their marriages,” Sexton offers. The way it breaks down is that in a monogamous marriage, both partners know what the other person physically values ​​and over the years build some sort of “greatest hits” that they go through on a physical encounter.

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As the routines of married life begin to set in and the window of time becomes narrower and narrower, these “most successful” encounters are slotted into the schedule whenever space arises. released.

“Now think about what you just did,” Sexton says. “With good intentions, you now find yourself in a situation where, on pretty much the same days or nights, you and your spouse are doing pretty much the same things to each other.”

As a result, intimacy becomes routine, predictable and, if patterns do not change over time, perhaps non-existent. The key is to notice it and try to make a change through, you guessed it, better communication.

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4. Stop trying to follow other couples on social media

Social media offers a host of problems, but what Sexton says is most prevalent is the misrepresentation of life and parenthood that he constantly shows you. There was a time when people’s marital role models were their parents and grandparents, or maybe a happy couple down the street. Today, many people form their ideas and opinions based on what they see on Facebook and other social networks.

“What is Facebook? asks Sexton. “It’s an advertisement for yourself. It’s an organized version of your life. So everyone posts the most beautiful photos of the best moment of their wedding. So how would you not look at that and say, ‘Oh, my marriage sucks about that’?”

It’s important, Sexton says, to remember that what you’re looking at represents people who only let you see the moments and images of their lives and marriages that they want you to see.

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5. Don’t open the door to inappropriate relationships online

The other disturbing aspect of social media is that it gives you a window through which you can contact former girlfriends or boyfriends. There’s a chapter in Sexton’s book called “If you wanted to invent an infidelity-generating machine, it’d be called Facebook.” He’s not wrong.

“Because I have so many clients I represent whose business started on Facebook. In my opinion, Facebook is the most relationship toxic website out there.

Sexton says the problem with social media when it comes to opening the door to inappropriate relationships is that most platforms not only encourage you to connect with people, but also encourage you to connect with them on media. social gives you plausible deniability.

“If you went to one of your neighbor’s wives and started talking to her, people would look at you like, ‘Hey, why are you talking to that woman?'” he said. “But, if on Facebook you went, ‘Oh wow, I saw you went to Aruba. Where did you stay? We’re planning a trip there. Now you have plausible deniability as to why. why you spoke to this person.

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6. Remember why you fell in love and got married in the first place

As crazy as it sounds there are people who just got married because they thought that was what they were meant to do and only now after years are they realizing Realize that they haven’t thought about it.

“Very often people don’t answer the question: ‘Why am I getting married? What is the problem to which marriage is a solution for me? says Sexton. “People don’t think about that. Its kind of just assumed you’re going to get married. Why? “Well, because we’ve been together for a while. »

And I think there’s something to be said when thinking about why someone gets married. Sometimes staying married can be as simple as remembering why you said “yes” in the first place.

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Jeremy Brown is a writer who focuses on relationships, love, and marriage. For more relationship advice, visit his author profile on Fatherly.

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This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Reprinted with permission from the author.