Divorce is costing Australia over $14 billion a year
The end of a relationship is not something people enjoy thinking about. Nobody enters into a marriage with the expectation of divorce, and yet the fact is that a significant proportion of marriages dissolve eventually. Marriages are complicated. But, as with so many things in life, a little effort and care can go a long way to insulate a relationship from day to day stresses.
In Australia today, divorce costs taxpayers $14 billion a year in court payments and government assistance, not including child support. If we could measure the emotional fallout on children and extended family, the cost would be even higher still. What can you do to strengthen your relationship, before it gets to this point?
Nurture the connection
Experts can agree on one thing: there is a lot that can be done to improve a relationship long before divorce becomes an option. A switched on couple will find a wealth of information out there on ways they can improve their communication with one another. The cost of a quality self help book is worth it when you consider how it could prevent a divorce, the average cost of which hovers around $100 000.
A couple who learns early on to prioritize and nurture their relationship may find that small things make all the difference. Make time for “dates” and keep the channels of communication open.
Prevention is better than cure
By the time a couple decides to divorce, the accumulated hurts and disappointments may be too many to overcome. Address disagreements and issues early on. The sooner you and your partner learn effective ways to negotiate and communicate, the stronger your relationship will be, and the easier it will be to weather the inevitable difficulties of marriage.
There is unfortunately a taboo on seeking couple’s counselling, the understanding being that only those in dire straits should seek it out. But a good relationship requires active maintenance. Counselling can be the beginning of a conversation that could very well save a marriage.
Work on yourself
A relationship can only be as healthy as the people in it. Even if your spouse is reluctant to join you in therapy, going alone will still benefit the relationship indirectly. Taking responsibility for your own part in the situation and coming to terms with your own goals and issues makes you a better partner. Your effort alone may have a knock on effect with your partner.
A responsible separation
Of course, not every marriage was meant to be. For some, a divorce is simply the only option. But an amicable divorce can mean preventing the waste of thousands of dollars, prolonged stress and trauma to the children.
In my practice, I see how divorce hurts everyone involved. But it is possible to separate consciously and cooperatively, which is why I usually suggest mediation before involving lawyers. Resentments have a way of building in a long term relationship, and mediation offers an opportunity to settle and find some closure, without adding unnecessary emotional and financial strain.
Marriages are living, breathing entities. A strong and healthy relationship is one that is regularly nourished. Early intervention is the difference between taking antibiotics for an infection or ignoring the problem until it requires a full amputation. Make it a priority in your relationship to deal with the little things before they have a chance to become big things.
Do you need relationship help?
Since 2003, Clinton Power has helped thousands of couples and individuals as a counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice in Sydney and online in Australia. Clinton regularly comments in the media on issues of relationships and has appeared on Channel 7, The Sydney Morning Herald, and ABC Radio. Clinton’s eBook, 31 Days to Build a Better Relationship is available through his website or Amazon. Click here to take Clinton’s relationship checkup quiz to find out how well you know your partner.