Marriage is certainly not a fairytale, however with a lot of effort and work from both spouses, happily ever after can be attainable.
What is it like to be married and see divorces happening on a daily basis? Not only that, but it is our profession to make it happen. Couples literally ask us to apply for a divorce in their names. Every day. Or almost every day. You are probably wondering how it affects our personal lives as lawyers, especially if we are married ourselves.
Well, we took the time to go around the office and ask our married lawyers a few questions.
Working in a family law firm, where we see divorces on a daily basis, what is the secret to your lasting marriage?
Anonymous: “A sense of internal duty.”
Me Eric Kirshner: “Patience.”
Me Alexander Carin: “Communication and compromise.”
Me Sheri Spunt: “Reciprocal Respect.”
All these key practices are important to preserve respect in a marriage. Remember that a marriage is a legal contract. It does not only require love to perdure. Just like any contract, you need to fulfill your obligations to make it last, especially if there are children involved. Being conscious of your own behavior can mitigate the risk of problems.
The University of Rochester conducted a study on key practices to a successful marriage.
- Communication is already a given, but more precisely, it needs to be clear and often.
- Spouses also need to be thankful to each other. Showing appreciation by saying thank you and by doing a favor are nurturing acts for a healthy marriage. When a spouse takes for granted the other spouse’s gestures, resentment can slowly build inside. There comes a time when one of them will eventually explode with criticism, which usually comes from an accumulation. This is when listening is a useful skill to have and develop.
- Moreover, between careers, friends, family, kids and hobbies, it becomes easy to neglect our partner. As much as it is vital to get some personal time to recharge, making plans together is just as important to maintain the chemistry.
- To understand that it is normal to have disagreements is vital. Spouses are two different individuals who see and interpret the world in their own way. While spending that much time together, it is rare that the couple will see eye-to-eye all of the time. By accepting and compromising with each other, it becomes easier to make the marriage last.
- Trust issues are a hazard that many couples go through. Without trust, spouses can become defensive, controlling and self destructive. By focusing on the present moment, being positive and cultivating what they have, couples will build a more solid foundation. Whenever a problem arises, they can fight without being hostile and must take responsibility for their actions.
- Lastly, learn to forgive. We are human beings and will make mistakes. Even couples married for 40 years have done so. A lifetime is a long time. Forgiveness sometimes is more important than pride. It is up to the discretion of each to know when to forgive.
With your experience, what is the most common reason for divorce?
Me Eric Kirshner: “Adultery.”
Me Alexander Carin: “Lack of communication and lack of intimacy.”
Me Sheri Spunt: “Empty nesters.”
Lack of commitment, too much arguing and conflict, marrying too young, unrealistic expectations, lack of equality, inadequate preparation, lack of family support, religious differences, irreconcilable differences, substance abuse, and domestic violence are also reasons for divorce.
A frequently quoted statistic tossed around is that 50% of all marriages end in divorce. Well, we can confidently say that it is a myth. As per an article by Goldberg Jones, that statistic was merely a projection of divorce from the 1970s. However, according to Statistic Canada, divorce rate has actually decreased since the Divorce Act reform of 1986, with a very steep down slope in 2020. In parallel, the marriage rate has also decreased in recent years. Canada is the first among the G7 to have the most common law couples, driven by Quebec. About one quarter of couples live in a common law relationship, which is a new normal amongst young adults in contrast to older generations.
When divorce becomes inevitable and there are children at stake, what is your most precious advice to parents in order to become good co-parents?
Anonymous: “Try to settle the case as quickly as possible and don’t involve the children in litigation.”
Me Eric Kirshner: “You should be making decisions during a contested divorce with the view of your child walking down the aisle with your ex one day.”
Me Alexander Carin: “Divorce is not about the parents, the kids are the ones that will feel it the most, it is the parent’s job is to keep them out of it.”
Me Sheri Spunt: “Shelter your children from your conflict, even if it feels impossible to pretend to be friends for the benefit of your children. Say “hi” when you exchange the children, it will go a long way!”
The divorce itself might not be traumatic for young children. The trauma comes from how the divorce is handled by the parents. By witnessing constant conflict or being alienated by one parent, it can cause irreparable damages. Growing up, some children will unconsciously develop symptoms such as anxiety, isolation, emotional outburst, insecure attachment style, depression, and avoidant behaviors. Hence the importance of making the children’s best interest a priority and avoiding long litigation procedures.