In my experience, differing and unmet expectations are often the genesis for divorces.
Typically, tension develops because the husband and wife entered the marriage with unspoken but differing expectations about the issues they will confront after the wedding.
Those differing expectations can create conflict. Unresolved conflict creates rifts in marriages. Rifts create divorces.
One way to immunize your marriage against divorce is to learn to resolve conflict effectively. That is something that typically takes time to learn and very few people possess that skill on the day they are married.
Another great way to help immunize your marriage against divorce is to identify and address your differing expectations before the wedding.
How do you do this? Pre-marital counseling is a great tool for identifying potential future conflicts.
But, if pre-marital counseling is not your cup of tea, there are tremendous benefits to simply having a conversation with your future spouse about some typical issues that I have seen come up in marriages that end in divorce, such as:
– Who will work and how much will they work? What kind of work/life balance do you expect the other person to maintain?
– How much money do you expect to make as a couple?
– What kind of lifestyle do you each expect?
– Will one of you will stay home if you have kids?
– Do you want kids? How many?
– Do you prefer to be financially conservative (lots of saving, low risk moves) or more daring (lower savings, higher risk moves)?
– What kind of parenting styles do you anticipate?
– What are appropriate discipline techniques for your family?
– Where will you spend holidays and who else will be there?
– How involved will your in-laws and extended families be in your lives?
– How will you share the chores of the household? Will you share them at all? If not, who is going to do them?
– How clean do you expect your house to be on a regular basis?
– What kinds of things do you expect to be able to spend money on?
– Who will handle the family finances?
– Will the family follow a budget?
– Do you believe in having debt, or are you debt averse?
All of these issues and more can be sources of friction in a marriage if not addressed early on. Every couple has their own points of conflict.
I have found that many people make assumptions about their future spouse’s feelings on these topics; only to later find out they were wrong. There’s an old saying about what happens when you “assume”, and it holds true in marriage as well. Don’t assume what your future spouse thinks about something; find out.
Identifying and discussing these issues early on may not be comfortable. But those conversations will help prevent future conflict and therefore immunize your marriage against divorce down the road. And that is a truly worthy goal.