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How to help your marriage survive in the 21st century

Young couple/ Pexels
Young couple/ Pexels

BY: Poelano Malema

Four out of ten marriages end in divorce before their 10th anniversary. This is according to Statistic SA’s 2016 report.

What are couples doing wrong?

Gerrie Pretorius, a marriage counsellor and the founder of Life Counsel, says people enter marriage without really preparing themselves and discussing important issues.

Some of the issues include having kids, finances, goals, and fidelity.

“Decide whether you want to have kids or not and check that your partner feels the same way,” he says.

If one person wants to have kids, while the other one doesn’t, it will cause serious problems in the marriage. The partner that doesn’t want to have children might seem selfish, while the one who wants kids might feel frustrated.

Finances

Finances also play a huge role in marriage. It is one of the top three reasons for conflict in marriage. This is why Gerrie says it is important to “discuss your financial goals with your partner as well as how you both feel about spending and saving” before walking down the aisle.

Values

Another important aspect of ensuring a successful marriage is discussing your values. We all have individual values and goals, and marrying a person who doesn’t share the same values as you, or won’t support them, will cause conflict in marriage and sometimes even lead to divorce.

Gerrie says sharing your values with each other will help you enter marriage knowing what your partner believes about important issues in life. Some of these values can include religious beliefs.

Communication

Communication is also key to having a good marriage. After tying the knot, Gerrie says couples must make an effort to learn how to communicate effectively with their spouses. “To establish good communication in your relationship, you need to be able to express your needs and emotions as well as listen to what your spouse has to say. Support your partner in achieving their dreams and show appreciation for the small things that they do for you on a daily basis. Try out new things together to keep your relationship interesting,” he says.

Personal problems

Gerrie adds that it is also important to fix any personal problems as well as relationship problems you have before getting married.

Some people get married to escape loneliness or societal pressures. Don’t ignore any personal problems you have by thinking marriage will be the solution.

“Marriage won’t fix any of your personal or relationship problems, so it’s advisable to start putting the effort in before your wedding day,” says Gerrie.

Work on your marriage

He adds that couples need to ensure they constantly work on their marriage.

“While there is no single cause of divorce, infidelity, poor communication and unrealistic expectations are common factors that play a role in couples splitting up. Financial problems also put a strain on marriages. When couples don’t have the skills to resolve conflicts, divorce is a more likely outcome,” says the marriage counsellor.

It is also important to not walk out as soon as problems arise in marriage, but rather look for ways to solve them. This might mean even seeking professional help before calling it quits.

Other ways to divorce-proof your marriage include:

– Keeping the fire burning in your marriage by doing romantic activities now and again.

– Make time for each other. Neglecting your partner or feeling ignored by your partner can cause one to seek attention elsewhere and open the door for infidelity.

– Stay friends. Share your joys and pains with each other.

– Be considerate and supportive. Don’t expect one partner to do all the house chores, but help each other and be there for your partner in times of need.

– Be open with each other. Secrets have a way of coming out and can result in conflict. Remember to not be judgemental when your partner opens up about their struggles.

– Protect your marriage. Guard your heart and be mindful of your surroundings or friends.

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