The least likely group of people you’d take sound marital advice from is a group of divorced men, but it turns out, their insight can be rather helpful. Consider this: the majority of men who have been through a divorce wish they would have done something differently, because divorce is no picnic for anyone! Divorce is never the goal when exchanging wedding vows and it leaves many men saddled with regret, and perhaps guilt, about what they could have done differently.
But after having been through the severing of marital ties, divorced men can evaluate the situation, better understand the mistakes they have made and, hopefully, learn how to avoid them in the future. They can offer some insight into what went wrong and thus can teach others what not to do.
Here are 8 things the divorced men we have heard from want women to know about marriage:
1. Spend time with your spouse and make him or her a top priority:
No matter how hectic your life gets and how much you have on your plate, make sure you always make time for your spouse. Spending time with the person you married should never seem like a hassle. It should be something you look forward to and are happy to make a priority. Creating time for your partner is key to a long-lasting, healthy marriage.
2. Do not assume your spouse feels loved; make SURE he or she feels loved:
Once the wedding is over, most married partners make the mistake of assuming their spouses know how they feel about them, and lower the frequency of offering praise, acknowledgement and other signs of love. But showing your spouse that you love him or her is critical to lasting love, so be sure to regularly tell your spouse that you genuinely love them. Make sure your partner is aware of how important they are to you. It is essential that you show your love rather than assume.
3. Be patient:
The phrase, “good things come to those who wait” can apply to marriages. All marriages go through rough patches, and some go through seriously difficult times, like the loss of a job, parent or child. The marriages that survive these difficulties are those in which both partners can be patient enough to allow the storms to pass, and to know that the water will get calmer soon. Always remember you are on the same team and should not be bringing each other down.
4. Continue to date each other:
No matter how long you have been married, always keep the spark alive with date nights and spending time together. It may not always be easy to meet up with just the two of you, but it will continually remind you both how in love you are. Dating allows you to get away from everyday life and acts as a great reminder of why you are married.
5. Listen … a lot:
It’s all too common to watch couples on TV make jokes about tuning out their annoying wife or husband, but in real life, you should never tune out your spouse. What might feel like “nagging” to you is actually an attempt to be heard and understood by the person who you promised to love and cherish forever. Try to drop your defenses and actually listen to your spouse’s complaints. It can be extremely hard, but nothing will have a greater impact on your ability to grow together and fix problems as they arise rather than let them fester and destroy your marriage.
6. Really talk to each other:
Be sure not to humor your spouse or just go through the motions when you’re with him or her. Your marriage needs you to live in the moment in order to be real. Even if you are busy with a million different things, your marriage must take priority in order to last. Take the time to completely listen to what your partner is saying. Active listening includes responding, asking questions, creating a dialogue and discussing issues without getting defensive.
7. Vulnerability deepens relationships:
In many cultures, both men and women believe they must show the strong side of themselves and protect their loved ones from their deepest fears and weaknesses. But a marriage is one place where not showing someone your vulnerability can work against you in a big way. Don’t always have your walls up. Being a strong person some of the time is great, but it is also important to be your true self and show your feelings and emotions in order to gain true intimacy with someone.
8. Laugh together, even at the small things:
Having a sense of humor about life can make things a lot easier. Learn to shake off the small stuff and save your arguing for the big things. Laughing together through thick and thin can strengthen the connection you share.
Loving and truly appreciating your spouse is always the main goal in marriage. These tips from divorced men can help every married couple improve the health of their marriage.
Malini Bhatia, Founder & CEO of Marriage.com
Malini Bhatia is the founder of Marriage.com, a website dedicated to providing value in every marriage. Marriage.com provides resources, information and a community that supports healthy happy marriages. Malini has global experience in international management and communications.
Malini lives in Los Angeles with her husband of 11 years and two daughters.