Why exactly would an Oregon divorce attorney publish an article on how to save a marriage, and alternatives to divorce? Simply put, there are many marriages that simply do not need to end in divorce. In some cases, a divorce will actually have a profoundly negative impact on the children. In other cases, the divorce may have very a negative practical impact on the parties– financially, for example. It goes without saying that marriages involving domestic violence, fraud by one party, or mistrust between the parties may need to end immediately, but in many cases, the marital problems can be overcome with some effort and new tools. Because divorces often bring out the worst in people, and also because divorces tend to be expensive, it’s worth at least considering whether or not there is a possibility of saving a marriage before filing for divorce.
There are many options to consider when trying to save your marriage:
- A change of perspective. Making a commitment to doing something new, having “date nights,” or going on a vacation with your partner can take you away from the stresses that cause tension, letting you reconnect. With the increase of stresses in daily life, making time to invest in the relationship is important. Date nights and romantic vacations have remained a popular choice for working couples and couples with children.
- Private, but direct communication between the parties about marital problems. Many couples could simply benefit from an uninterrupted, undistracted, and honest discussion about the perception that each party has as to the status of the marriage. This can be done at no cost, without the need for a professional counselor. It may or may not be beneficial to have a direct conversation about the possibility of divorce, if the marital problems are not addressed.
- Re-evaluate your finances. A study done by researchers at the School of Family Studies and Human Services, Kansas State University found that arguments about finances at the start of a relationship are early indicators of divorce. Cutting back and getting your finances in order is one way to get your relationship back on track. Work collaboratively on setting and sticking to a budget. Make sure to be honest with your partner about how would like to handle your finances. Though you and your partner may not have the same priorities, figuring out areas where you are willing to compromise can help prevent arguments in the future. Moneycrashers.com has helpful tips on how to manage your money as a married couple.
- Books on strengthening marriages and couples therapy. Many popular and well-regarded books are available at Powell’s and Amazon.com on saving marriages, strengthening them, and working through issues with informal therapy (that is: therapy not involving a counselor). I Love You, but I’m Not IN Love with You; Seven Steps to Saving Your Relationship by Andrew Marshall is a popular read. Another highly rated read is Fighting for Your Marriage by Howard Markman and Scott Stanley. If you are not ready to jump head first into the conversation Dr. Patricia Love and Dr. Steven Stosny’s co wrote How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, which focuses on how to develop your connection with your partner.
- Workshops and Seminars. There are any number of seminars and workshops that focus on developing and building healthy relationships. The Gottman Institute is one of the most recognized names in the field of marriage. Founded by Dr. John Gottman, the institute is one of the most comprehensive sources for workshops and seminars. They offer numerous online and in person resources for couples who are struggling to make it work.
- Couple Retreats. There are many specialized couple retreats across the U.S. The Gottman Institute offers their own Private Couples Retreats in Washington. There are also retreats on the East Coast including Marriage Quest in Cabot, Vermont. Looking for a more intensive program? The Marriage Bootcamp is an intensive four day retreat that focuses on activities and games to bring couples closer together.
- Marriage counseling, couples therapy, and individual therapy. In some cases, direct discussions are awkward or ineffective for one or both of the parties, and it may be necessary to bring in a professional third-party to spark communication, mediate communications, or provide fresh ideas on how to work-through marital difficulties.
- Informal separation. If progress cannot be made with both parties living in the same house, it’s possible that a short period of time living apart– informally, with no legal paperwork being filed– may help the parties evaluate their situation.
- Legal separation. If progress cannot be made with both parties informally separated, legal separation– where paperwork with actually filed with the local court– may be helpful to provide some measure of financial support and protection for the parties.
The truth is that– when parties have doubts as to their marriage– sometimes divorce is the best option for all parties involved. However, there are steps you can take before you even say the word “divorce.” It may sound obvious, but weighing the stress, expense, uncertainty, and legal expenses of a divorce versus the cost of marriage counseling can also help with your decision making. If two parties cannot stay married, both parties should retain attorneys that they trust and feel comfortable with, to help them navigate the process.