If I only knew then what I know now.
Despite our own mistakes, and the many we have seen, we are still believers in love and commitment. For every client we’ve helped through a messy breakup, we’ve had the privilege of hearing their story. We’ve listened, analyzed, and agonized with them (and sometimes on our own time too) and have learned just a few tips that we all might want to consider before saying “I do” — and if it’s too late if your partner has already filed divorce, we’ve got a few tips for you too so that you remain in integrity throughout your separation in an effort to ‘consciously uncouple'(a term that we had so much affection for until Gwyneth exploited it).
1. The communication issues you have in marriage don’t magically go away when you separate. If you’ve got kids to co-parent, counseling post-separation is often far more effective than battling it out in court when you’ve got a disagreement about raising your children. You may have separate lives now but you’ve still got to deal with the other and let’s face it – conflict is just not fun. By now you’ve learned you aren’t going to change the other person but it doesn’t mean you can’t find common ground and learn tools to overcome differing parenting styles.
2. Think prenup before a second marriage. Cynical? Maybe. But at least you begin the conversation that you may not have ever had in marriage #1. Like whether or not there is an expectation that one or both parties will work. Will savings be considered joint? Is either party bringing debt into the relationship? Will assets be acquired jointly? Will assets that have already been acquired continue to be the separate property of the spouse who purchased them? Compatibility is key for long-term relationships and let’s face it, money management can be a fire starter. Understanding your partner’s financial goals (or lack thereof) is a helpful component of a relationship.
3. Silence is (not) golden. Our clients often admit to having been terrible communicators in their relationships. We had one client say that he couldn’t remember the last time his wife asked about his day. He took it personally and felt shut-out. Be a good conversation partner, thought partner, laughter partner — and it may strengthen your bond.
4. Issues of your soul matter. One of the biggest breakdowns in the relationships we see — is a fundamental difference in moral values. Common beliefs bind people together and keep priorities (like family and money) aligned. It feels good to be part of a ‘team’ and work together towards a common goal. Apparently, core values don’t waiver and when our clients have felt ‘compelled’ to change, they’ve ended up resentful and lonely.
5. Don’t take me for granted! Your spouse is not perfect and neither are you. That’s ok. We’ve seen countless couples reconcile mid-way into a divorce and the relationships that seem to last (after such a difficult ordeal) are the ones where there was truly respect and admiration for each other. Once these couples realized that they could lose their partner, they became committed to the hard work, because they know that it’s worth it. Life without the other just isn’t as sweet.