THINKING about calling it quits? Before you start divvying up your valuables, you should retrieve your wedding video and replay the very moment that you took your vows (turn the volume up if you have to). Now, did you promise that you would remain together until "Death Do Us Part?" Or did you say until "He [or She] Gets On My Nerves?"
The first mistake many married folks make, relationship experts say, is going into the marriage knowing that there's always a back-door exit. According to statistics, nearly 48 percent of all married couples do walk out that back door.
But how are those golden couples--the other 52 percent, some who have been married for 50 years or more--been able to avoid being torn apart by the common relationship problems that feed the current divorce frenzy? What is their secret to avoiding the big "D"?
On these pages, married relationship experts, matrimonial attorneys and psychologists guide you through the valley of everyday marital woes and provide some helpful tips on how you can avoid the possibility of divorce.
PROBLEM: MY SPOUSE DOESN'T FULFILL MY SEXUAL NEEDS.
Chances are good that your married sex life is somewhat (or significantly) different from your dating sex life. A common complaint that husbands make, according to Detroit psychologist and divorce attorney Paris M. Finner-Williams, co-author of Marital Secrets: Dating, Lies Communication and Sex, is that their spouses misled them about their libido and sexual desires.
"The couple may have engaged in some sexual practices that were important to the husband before the marriage, and the wife may have tolerated it because she wanted to please her man," Dr. Finner-Williams explains. "But now that she's married, the wife really doesn't want to continue that sexual practice with the husband and he becomes frustrated because he expected that practice to continue after the marriage."
Sexual frustration combined with a lack of communication on the husband's part can kick the door wide open for infidelity, adds counselor Robert Williams, MSW, who is also Dr. Finner-Williams' husband. Robert Williams says that many men are reluctant to share their sexual fantasies with their spouse out of fear or embarrassment.
"Instead of expressing their desires to their mate, some men would rather go to someone else, and have their sexual needs fulfilled with another person," he explains. "Men are very private with their intimate desires and sexual thoughts, and they must know that their mate will not be critical or judgmental in order for them to express themselves."
SOLUTION: Dr. Paris M. Finner-Williams and her spouse Robert Williams suggest that couples adhere to a pre-agreed-upon sexual satisfaction program and that they get intimate (if their health allows) at least once every 72 hours.
PROBLEM: MY SPOUSE IS SPENDING ALL OUR MONEY!
By some twist of fate (or cruel act of nature), the big spender and the penny-pincher generally find themselves joined at the hip, proving that opposites attract--even when it comes to spending habits.
Take newlyweds Michael and Bridget for example.
Every payday Michael buys fancy clothes and expensive gifts for himself and Bridget. However, Bridget is very conservative with her money, and she always waits for a good sale.
Under Bridget's watch, the couple's bills are paid on time, but Michael always manages to spend more than they agreed to. Fed up with Bridget's strict family budget, Michaels rebels by buying a brand new SUV behind Bridget's back. His big-ticket purchase nearly lands them in divorce court.
SOLUTION: Call in an intermediary, someone who can help you set realistic budgetary goals and make your financial decisions together, advises New York matrimonial lawyer Robert Stephan Cohen, author of Reconcilable Differences: 7 Keys to Remaining Together From a Top Matrimonial …