The number of divorces fell by almost 2% last year. Sadly this isn’t because we’re all having happier marriages: it seems the real reason is that couples simply can’t afford to get divorced anymore because living alone is so expensive.
Before your marriage becomes just another statistic, why not try to save it while you still can?
Grow together, not apart
Most marriages go out with a whimper, rather than a bang. Couples simply grow apart as the years go on and find themselves forgetting why they were ever in love with their partner in the first place.
Want to stop things from going stale? Keep doing things together that don’t involve household chores. Try doing one new thing together every week (see ‘have a date night’ below). Ask him how he’s feeling — and be genuinely interested in his answer. If one of you is craving more excitement, take the plunge and go on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday together.
It’s easy to get so used to somebody that you start to forget to actually be polite to them. Think about how you speak to your hubby — would you speak to your co-worker like that, or your best friend? Didn’t think so.
And when was the last time you told him his bum looked good or that you liked his shirt? Men like complements too, ladies.
Know when to end an argument
The age-old tip from our mothers is so true: never go to bed on an argument. Your negative feelings will just fester away and seep into your subconscious as you sleep. Try to resist the need to always be right and just apologise.
Another sure-fire way to damage your marriage is by dredging up old arguments. Whenever you feel the words ‘this is just like the time…’ or ‘you always’ bubbling up in your throat, stop yourself short, take a deep breath and focus on all the reasons why you do love him. Hold on to them.
Recession-proof your marriage
While some couples stay together because they can’t afford to live apart, fighting over the household’s finances has torn them apart emotionally and they are basically living like a divorced couple.
There’s only so much you can do about your financial strains, but you can change how you react to them.
If he’s lost his job, he’s already received a massive blow to his ego. Men are hardwired to equate success and male pride with job success, so tread carefully. You might be worried, but nagging him about how many jobs he’s applied for and complaining about how you can’t afford to go out for dinner as much is going to stress him out and make him feel inadequate.
Try to see your situation as a temporary blip that you can get through together and learn to have fun on the cheap. A night in for two with a supermarket bottle of wine and a DVD (rather than a big night out with friends) could be exactly what the two of you need to reconnect.
Focus on what’s important
The first working day in January is famously dubbed ‘divorce day’ because of the number of cases divorce solicitors see after Christmas and New Year. It’s easy to see why: stress levels soar as we manically dash about trying to have the perfect Christmas and we spend a lot of time cooped up with relatives. It’s a breeding ground for divorce.
Remember to put your relationship first sometimes and don’t let yourself get so stressed out that you take it out on each other.
Try counselling and stick at it
Sometimes it helps to have a third party there to get you both to open up in a constructive way about what’s bothering you. Don’t be embarrassed about asking for help – even the strongest of marriages take work.
There’s a worrying trend (possibly influenced by celebrities) for ‘starter’ marriages that only last a few years and end before any children are brought into the equation. But stick at it for the first ten years, and you’re far less statistically likely to get divorced.
Ditch the flannel every once in a while and make the effort to look nice. Do your hair, slip on a pair of heels and actually leave the house for a date night. If you’re worried you’ll have nothing to say to each other, go see a film or play before dinner to spark up a conversation.
Better yet, do something adrenalin-pumping like a rollercoaster or skydive so you both release bonding chemicals. It could even help you heat things up in the bedroom and feel attracted to him again.
Spend time apart
Spending too much low-quality time together can amplify all the little things that annoy you about one another.
Make sure you both have busy social calendars which don’t involve each other and you might just find yourself feeling excited at the sound of his key in the door again.
And many women swear by separate bathrooms for keeping the romance alive.
Don’t let resentment build up
Ever feel your blood boil as you scrub the bathroom floor while he’s downing pints with his mates? You’re not alone. Eight out of ten married women still do more housework than men.
Don’t be a martyr – you’ll only take it out on him in another form. Write down a division of chores that’s fair and reward him when he’s ticked one off the list.
Have you made it through a rough patch? How did you do it?