Getting divorced is easy. You stand in front of a judge and quote “breakdown in communication” as your reason and the divorce is granted.
What no one tells you is that the emotional trauma governs your future choices and actions for years to come.
Over the years I have seen my personal experience of divorce reflected by hundreds of other divorcees. We look like we have it together on the outside, but a deep fear of being hurt again leads us into relationships with emotionally unavailable people so we don’t need to commit to them.
The pain and fear of loneliness is far more excruciating than we would ever let on. After all, society has trained us not to wear our hearts on our sleeves.
As a relationship coach and matchmaker, I have interviewed over 800 people and I have seen a pattern of what works for couples who are happy together and what causes relationships to break down.
We are never taught the fundamentals of creating deep, loving, mutually uplifting relationships. We get to a certain age and feel the societal pressure to get married, buy a house and have a family. Falling in love is the easy part and from this intoxicated state, we make the decision to get married. People spend a small fortune on their weddings, but neglect to plan their marriage, which they hope will last a lifetime.
The worldwide divorce rate is now 53 percent, with some countries as high as 70 percent, and none of the people who got married anticipated that it would end. After all, the fairy tales all speak of happily ever after.
How do you divorce-proof your relationship? If you are lucky enough to find someone to love, who loves you back, it’s worth the time and energy to learn about creating a deeply satisfying relationship.
If you’re in a happy relationship, never take it for granted. We all have the basic human needs of love, acceptance and acknowledgement. If you’re in a rocky relationship, are you prepared to do whatever it takes to take that relationship to a mutually beneficial place?
Some people, when faced with challenges in their own relationship, would choose to have an affair, which is never the solution and only leads to hurt, disappointment and anger. The reason people have affairs is to regain the “falling in love” phase. That dizzy sense of happiness, excitement and attraction. It makes us feel special, desirable, understood and adored.
How do we create those same emotions with the person you are with? Can you fall in love with that person again after all the arguments and disappointments you’ve experienced? The answer is yes – if you are willing to do the work.
When you meet someone you are attracted to for the first time, you see the best in them. You acknowledge the good in them and you give them your unconditional love. When you give love the other person feels elated and returns it. After marriage, the giving shifts to expectation.
Most of our expectations come from observing our parents’ marriage: “My mum cooked dinner every night, so I expect my wife to do the same”; “My dad was the provider, so I expect my husband to do the same” or variations thereof.
With expectations, each partner feels they have to behave in a certain way to get approval. When expectations or beliefs on marriage differ, resentment can set in. Where love was once being given freely, now demands are being made. This is how power struggles and arguments begin.
If you want to divorce-proof your relationship, start by making little changes that will make phenomenal shifts for you both. For the next week, notice everything that is wonderful about your partner and acknowledge them for it.
When you receive good energy, you want to give good energy back. When you see the best in someone, they want to give you more of their best.
Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” So if you want love, can you be loving? If you want acceptance, can you start to accept your partner more unconditionally? If you desire to be appreciated, can you give gratitude for who your partner is and what they contribute to your life?
Often it’s the little things that move your relationship in a whole new direction.
A special dinner; a massage after a long day; a hug when your partner’s feeling down; or an unexpected compliment. Happy relationships don’t happen by chance, they are created by two people who desire it.
* Kas Naidoo is a relationship coach and matchmaker.