In a recent report by the conservative party it was suggested that couples should be required by law to undergo a three-month period before launching divorce proceedings” to reflect on their marriage and consider the affect divorce will have on children and finance”. This would be an attempt to try and save ‘saveable’ marriages.
I don’t believe most couples make a snap decision to get divorced. They usually split up because tensions have been building for years or one of them is having an affair. However, I do believe it is a good idea for couples to have coaching or counselling before deciding that divorce is the final option. In my experience many couples don’t communicate and this is one of the major causes of relationship breakdown. A few coaching or counselling sessions could highlight the problems in the marriage and give couples a chance to discuss them openly. If the couple can tell each other why they are not happy and agree on some compromises then the marriage might be ‘saveable’.
Having children makes a huge difference to the relationship between a couple and I’m not sure that people are prepared for this. The love you have for a child envelops you, the child becomes the most important person in your life and that will affect your relationship with your partner. You won’t do the same things together, for the first year or so you will be tired. Your life will change when you have children.
A stable family is certainly better for children and I believe couples should try everything possible to stay together but equally, if they can’t work things out both the couple and the children are probably better off with a divorce. Living with parents who hate each other is not a good environment for children.
The report also proposes a network of family relationship centres to advise couples before and during marriage. Ex-Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, who commissioned the report, said that research suggested young people had “incredibly high expectations” of marriage. He added that the idea of compromise by couples “seems to have disappeared”.
I agree that many couples do have unrealistic expectations of marriage. Once the ‘honeymoon period’ is over the ‘dizzy’ feeling wears off, routine sets in, you have sex less often. This is normal. This is what marriage is like. It’s not exciting all the time. Life isn’t like that. Marriage, in my opinion, works when the couple are able to be best friends, to support each other, to laugh together, to talk to each other about problems as well as having fun together and making love.
Most couples argue but there is a wise old adage ‘never go to sleep on an argument. Make up before you go to bed. If you disagree you need to discuss the problem, find a solution and then kiss and make up.
These days it seems couples must have a ‘dream’ wedding and start married life with brand new furniture. None of this ‘stuff’ matters, the main element to a happy marriage is the couple not the accoutrements.
I think that couples planning to get married should have some ‘marriage lessons’ with coaching or counselling. This would teach and prepare them for what a long-term marriage is like, how to communicate, how to keep the romance alive, and how relationships change when children arrive.
These are my top seven questions for couples considering marriage:
- Can you be totally honest with your partner?
- Have you discussed your attitudes to life choices such as children, finances, family, religion, etc?
- Are you able to really talk to your partner?
- Do you have separate as well as joint hobbies & interests?
- Do you have joint life goals?
- Why are you considering marriage, is it because of fear, loneliness or a need for security?
- Do you know what each know what the other needs to feel loved?