"We have nothing in common anymore."
"She's not the same person I married.
"We have so much going on, we simply don't hang out with one another."
These are the common phrases I hear over and over when I work with couples in crisis. I expect to hear them. They are what I have prepared for. When I hear them coming from friends, however, it catches me off guard. It shouldn't, I know, but somehow I think that MY friends won't succumb to the pressures that lead to divorce. Yet, my friends are just as likely to divorce as are the people who come to see me.
In my years of work, I have found several common denominators that everyone knows about, but it continually seems people don't pay attention to them. Not paying attention to these things inevitably leads to poor relationships and, many times, divorce. While there are any number of things that can lead to divorce, these five things are what I have found to be consistent among couples in conflict.
Kids in sports Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and every other weekend. Mom and dad working late in the evening and then going to the gym when they can fit it in. This busyness kills relationships. Give up some things to make time for the important people in your life. You will never regret making relationships better. What you will regret is not making more time for loved ones.
Going into debt over frivolous things, not agreeing on where to spend money and having separate accounts are the kinds of things that will lead to tension in relationships. This tension, over long periods of time, fractures relationships. The solution is to come to agreements on how you and your spouse will spend your money and how you will save. Teach your children how to manage finances. This will give them strengths to use in thier own future relationships.
3. Extended Family
If you consistently place priority on your parents, siblings and other extended family members, you are sure to doom your marriage. You need to place importance on your close relationships.
The sooner you can treat your spouse like you want to be treated, the less likely it will be that your marriage ends in divorce. When you make your relationships all about you, it sucks for everyone else. No one wants to be around a selfish person — including your children (they want to be cared for; they don't want to care for you).
If you're not doing it, then you'd better get started. The less passion in your marriage, the more likely it is that your relationship will end. If there are barriers in your way, deal with them. Don't simply refuse to be intimate. It is a marriage killer.
All of these things seem like "no brainers," but they are the areas that lead your relationship to a bad place if you practice them consistently. The key is to be self-aware and willing to do something different. Once you know about an issue, deal with it. Don't simply hope it will go away or that your partner will handle it. Marriage is hard work, but marriage can also be the most fulfilling experience in your life.