9 Things Couples Can Do to Avoid Divorce

Marriage is a big decision. It’s a life change and a huge commitment. For most people who marry, the goal is to remain married “til death do us part.”

Divorce is equally huge. If you’re happily married, you likely want to stay that way. What can you do to preserve that love and avoid a break-up?

If you want to avoid divorce, consider these tactics

In our complicated world, marriage is mired in land mines, and the divorce rate is significant. Stress. Infidelity. Technology. Being constantly bombarded with others’ ideas of what we “should” do and be. Still, somehow, some couples find ways to circumnavigate these choppy waters and come out better than before. What is the secret to these healthy marriages?

1. Be best friends

Friendship goes hand-in-hand with a long-term romantic relationship. As it turns out, the lust you feel at the beginning of a relationship does absolutely no good decades later without a great friendship. Does that couple with 50 years of marriage under their belt still look lustfully at each other? Maybe not, but if they have a healthy relationship, they know that their spouse will be the one person in the world they can count on through thick and thin.

2. Talk

The two of you don’t become mind-readers once you get married. If you need something, ask for it. Share how you feel. Ask questions when you’re unsure. One of the biggest problems in failing marriages is a breakdown of communication between partners. And it’s all too easy to get mad when your partner doesn’t seem to know what you want. This leads to further isolation.

Read: Are You Quiet Quitting Your Marriage?

3. Know what your partner needs to feel loved – and then do it

Have you ever tried to show your spouse all the ways you love them only to find you missed the mark? For example, admiring a person’s new outfit may not count as “love language” for them. Instead, they might want you to bring them a cold beer after a long day. Sometimes, many “little things” done right contribute to a successful marriage. To nurture your relationship, understand your partner’s love language and needs, and communicate your own. 

The five love languages

What is a “love language”? Basically, it’s the way a person prefers to communicate their love to others, and it’s also the predominant way a person perceives that others love them. Author and marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman breaks this phenomenon into five separate language types:

  • Words that affirm: These are positive statements and affirmations of love from one person to another. You may feel most loved when you hear words that affirm you, and/or you may feel that using affirmative words is one of the best ways to express your love to others.
  • Acts of service: This refers to the things one person does for another to make life easier and lighten their load. You may interpret your spouse’s acts of service as one of the greatest signs of their love, and/or you may perform acts of service to show your love.
  • Thoughtful gifting: You might put great thought into the gifts you give, and/or you might attach great meaning to the gifts you receive.
  • Time spent together: Spending quality time together may be the ultimate way you experience the love of others, and it may be the ultimate way you show your love to them.
  • Touch: Physical touch may be the way you experience the most meaningful love from others, and it may be the way you prefer to express your love.

There are many ways to communicate love, but many of us gravitate toward one particular language. So, what is your love language? What is your spouse’s love language? Are you speaking the same language? If not, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn your spouse’s preferred language. 

4. Be accountable for your words and actions

Accountability is the hallmark of a mature and strong relationship. People make mistakes. They may say things that are hurtful. In order to expect and deserve forgiveness, accept accountability for your words and actions. Take ownership of what you say and do … and if mess up, convey that you are truly sorry for the blunder.

5. Respect your spouse as their own person

In marriage, it’s easy to lose sight of your spouse as a separate person. But your spouse is a distinct and unique person with skills and attributes that have nothing to do with you. Admire and respect who your spouse is as a person … you might share the same bed with them every night, but try viewing them as the individual they are outside of your marriage as well.

6. Make time to do things together that you enjoy

When you and your spouse were courting, you likely spent plenty of date nights together. Over the years, however, life may have gotten in the way. Regardless of what is going on – kids, job, house, other responsibilities – your marriage should be your number-one priority. Have a list of babysitters on hand, restaurants you want to explore, museums you want to check out, concerts you want to see. Weekend away? Just happen to have a few “favorites” saved on Airbnb. 

Other ways to spend time together

Your life may be very busy, and you may wonder how on earth you could fit in time to do something leisurely with your spouse right now with so much else going on. Here are a few ideas:

  • Cook dinner together
  • Take a walk after a meal
  • Go on a picnic
  • Watch a movie or TV show 
  • Exercise together
  • Plan and carry out a home improvement project 

7. Spend time apart

In addition to spending time together, be sure to spend time apart. When you got married, you didn’t surrender your individuality, though sometimes it can feel like it. And if you feel your individuality is being stifled, you are more likely to also feel lost, sad, or resentful.

You are the best person to be in charge of the care and keeping of your own individuality. Use time apart to remind yourself of you who are. The two of you don’t have to do everything together. In fact, it’s healthy to maintain some personal space.

Perhaps you like your book club while your spouse dislikes reading. Perhaps your spouse likes to golf, but you don’t care for it. Spouses are different people with different needs and interests. 

Being happy together means that you can also be happy apart. Then, when you come back together, it gives you more to talk about. 

Suggested: Setting Healthy Boundaries in Your Relationships

8. Be faithful

There’s little that’s more hurtful or disrespectful than a spouse who has been emotionally or physically unfaithful. While we know it happens often, it’s one of the most damaging things that can happen to two people who vowed to love each other forever. And while infidelity doesn’t always lead to the demise of the relationship, it hurts it in ways that are often insurmountable. 

Tips for safeguarding the fidelity of your marriage

When a marriage ends, it’s rarely due to one event that can be blamed on just one person. Often, it’s the cumulative effect of lots of little things that build up and erode the relationship.

The following points may be thought of as guiding principles in a marriage. They can help safeguard it, though both people must be willing to pitch in the effort.

  • Show your appreciation and affection. Do you know what your spouse’s preferred love language is? If not, try to find out. LIkewise, they should know yours. If they don’t, find a way to tell them.
  • Make time for each other: This includes time for romance but also friendship and bonding.
  • Address issues promptly. If something is eating away at you – and potentially your marriage – don’t let it fester. Address it promptly. Sometimes, it’s hard to know how to do this. A marital therapist can help.
  • Clarify what you won’t accept. Does your partner know how you’d feel about them texting an old girlfriend or boyfriend? If not, make that (and other, similar boundaries) clear.

Read: Top Reasons People Get Divorced

9. Say “I love you” often – and really mean it

Some people view “I love you” as one of the small things in marriage. Others view it as hugely important to their marital satisfaction and well-being. Regardless of how you feel, these three words can pack a big punch, especially when they’re spoken with gusto and conviction.

How often do we say those three little words without really thinking about them? When you say them with energy and intention behind them, it’s amazing how your partner will be able to feel the difference. 

When marriage becomes too hard

Marriage can be difficult despite all of your hard work. Maybe you have gotten to a point where you wonder if it’s all worth it. Before you consider divorce, however, maybe your broken relationship deserves a good last push toward survival. 

Maybe that looks like marriage counseling. Maybe that looks like a trial separation. Only you can decide this – but many people prefer to know they exhausted all avenues of saving their marriage before calling it quits.

At Hello Divorce, we offer a new way to look at the divorce process. It doesn’t have to be acrimonious and awful. You can still treat each other with respect and dignity during the process. If you’re struggling in your marriage or considering divorce, check out the many resources we offer. Know that we also have online divorce plans and flat-rate services that will simplify the process should you decide to move forward with permanent separation.

Have questions? Schedule a free 15-minute call

Suggested reading:


5 Different Ways to Show Love and Improve Your Relationship.
Find a Therapist. Psychology Today.

Divorce Content Specialist
Mediation, Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Mental Health
Candice is a former paralegal and has spent the last 16 years in the digital landscape, writing website content, blog posts, and articles for the legal industry. Now, at Hello Divorce, she is helping demystify the complex legal and emotional world of divorce. Away from the keyboard, she’s a devoted wife, mom, and grandmother to two awesome granddaughters who are already forces to be reckoned with. Based in Florida, she’s an avid traveler, painter, ceramic artist, and self-avowed bookish nerd.