February is the month of LOVE but it also happens to be the month with the highest number of divorce filings and requests for Orders of Protection.

Something about the promise of Valentine’s Day seems to make it a day many people choose to get married or get divorced. Let’s face it, no one wants their marriage to fail. So what can you do to divorce-proof your marriage?

I have been a divorce attorney for the last ten years and have spoken to literally thousands of people facing or considering divorce. I’ve also been married for 13 years and my husband and I have four children. As you may imagine, I’m a bit obsessed with staying happily married. I’m not an expert and all I can offer is observations. With that being said, here are the three things that are key to staying happily married.

  1. Make a “deal breaker” list. This is the behavior that you cannot live with or tolerate over the long term. These include the obvious like cheating or abuse, but they may also include things like spending large amounts of money without talking to one another first, controlling you through money, belittling you or being non-supportive and critical, or a particular parenting style or strategy that you do not condone. This list will be highly personal to you. You may have not even thought about it. But you should. It’s key to staying happily married.
  2. Course-correct early and often. Getting to a place where one or both parties wants a divorce does not happen overnight. Many times, one spouse has been ignoring bad behavior for years. Sometimes, they may never have even told their spouse that his or her behavior is on the “deal breaker” list. If you don’t communicate with your spouse, and commit to making him better, you are setting both of you up for failure.
  3. Spend time together having fun and planning for your future! It’s easy to get into the grind of work, kids, cooking, and cleaning, and fail to make time to have fun with your spouse. This is doing something you both enjoy, not tagging along to Top Golf if you hate golfing. It’s also critical that you plan for the future together. If you aren’t headed in the same direction, staying happily married may be next to impossible.

What do you think? Have I missed something? Many of you have probably been married longer than I have. Let me know what you think. We can connect on Facebook, LinkedIn or for lunch!

–Billie