The impact of divorce on children cannot be stressed enough. While of course all children suffer the lost relationship and lost security that occurs in a divorce, for many children, the emotional scars have additional and more visible consequences. Research reveals the negative effects of divorce on children and most of these effects are calculated in increased risks of effects.
So how to work on your relationship to avoid divorce? Who can we turn to? Our society receives marriage and relationship advice from therapists, counselors, psychologists, and even TV show hosts, but have we considered the professionals who are experts on how they end – divorce attorneys?
To find out the number one advice a divorce attorney has for what it takes to keep together a marriage, and a family, Circle 4 Parents asked Stacy D. Phillips, of Blank Rome LLP. Stacy Phillips is a Certified Family Law Specialist and one of the country’s most well-known and respected family law practitioners, having achieved virtually every honor available to a lawyer for her work. She is also an author (including Divorce: It’s All About Control – How to Win the Emotional, Psychological and Legal Wars), sought-after commentator, speaker and writer, philanthropist, and a tireless advocate for children and families.
While there is no single reason why couples divorce, and of course there are a great many cases of pure incapability where you wonder how two people got married in the first place, there is one thing that couples can do Right Now to strengthen their marriage and their bond:
Couples need to focus on themselves and their relationship, instead of just the family.
Too often, many couples go through crises and use the “divorce” or “separation” solution too early, often before they seek any relationship advice or therapy. And having children changes your marriage as well. About two-thirds of couples become dissatisfied with their relationship within three years of having a child, according to research from the Gottman Relationship Institute in Seattle. Parents shift their focus so much onto their children that they end up forgetting themselves and putting their relationship on the backburner. Sleepless nights, raging hormones, scant time for long talks or sex—they all converge to forge a divide between you and him.
“It’s important for parents not to forget one another. They need to make the extra effort and work to be there for each other and give support,” says Phillips, “If not, resentment and contempt may arise, which can deeply affect any strong relationship.”
Both parents require “me” time to re-energize as individuals, and “we” time to keep close as a couple. It is important to speak up when you need a break and arrange an hour or two for your partner to watch the children while running errands, hitting the gym, or just spending some time alone. If a sitter is not available or not in the budget, set up a babysitting co-op with family, friends or trade off with neighbors.
As for the “we” time, it cannot be stressed enough to spend at least one night a week on a “date”. Of course, getting a babysitter or someone to watch the kids can be expensive and unrealistic, but the point is to spend quality time as partners together. If you can, doing something out of the ordinary, like going to a concert or for a hike as often as you can, instead of just regular dinners. Even at times doing chores together can bring a couple closer such as going grocery shopping or washing the car. There is only one rule for the date: No talking about the kids for at least 30 minutes, which can be harder than you think!
It is tricky to manage time for your individual self, your relationship, and your family. There will always be a request for more or a feeling of unbalance can be expected. Setting boundaries with time and maintaining them will help your relationship last. If you need some help with your relationship or time management, Circle 4 Parents is here to help. Please check out our sessions page for classes such as Coping with Stress, Self Care or Creating a Resilient Family here.
For more on Family Law Specialist and attorney Stacy Phillips, please visit the BlankRome site.
An original Circle 4 Parents blog.