The best source for marriage advice? Divorce attorneys. Before you protest, just think about it: Every day at work they see the types of marital problems that lead otherwise happy couples to split up.
With that in mind, we recently asked 11 family law attorneys to volunteer their best love and relationship advice. See what they had to say below.
1. A sustainable marriage is not about love, it’s about tolerance.
“Can you tolerate all your partner’s quirks? Even the ones that you don’t like, are they tolerable? Don’t marry your partner thinking that any of his or her quirks are going to change, improve or wane. As we get older, your partner’s quirks will only magnify. So if you can’t tolerate it now, you for sure are not going to be able to tolerate it in the future. Tolerance may not be romantic, but it is the key to a long lasting marriage.” — Melissa B. Buchman, an attorney in Beverly Hills, California
2. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt.
“Unfortunately, many couples I see going through a divorce ascribe bad — or sometimes terrible — motives to everything their spouses do. What is the harm in assuming or presuming the best? Even if you’re wrong, it hurts no one. And it may be the start of a better relationship.” — Randall M. Kessler, an attorney based in Atlanta, Georgia
3. Don’t be afraid to feed your spouse’s ego now and then.
“Silly as it may sound, your spouse wants to feel strong, sexy and attractive. I have seen spouses cheat because someone else showed them attention and made them feel good.” — Christian Denmon, an attorney in Florida
4. Put your spouse before your kids.
“This may not be the most popular piece of advice, especially for parents, but after watching countless people get divorced because they allowed themselves to slowly drift apart over the years, I honestly believe it’s true. We are all busy these days. It’s far too easy to put your job, your house, your activities and your kids before your spouse. Don’t do it! While many people believe that their kids have to come first, if they don’t put their spouse first and their marriage eventually sours, it’s not going to be doing the kids any favors. If you value your marriage, choose to put it first.” —Karen Covy, an attorney and divorce coach based in Chicago, Illinois
5. Don’t wait until it’s too late to work on your marriage.
“Work on your marriage while it’s still a good marriage, don’t wait until there’s a problem. ‘Work’ does not have to mean counseling, it can simply be having a set date night once a month.” — Carla Schiff Donnelly, an attorney based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania