How not to get divorced — that type of advice is strange coming from a Dallas Divorce Lawyer.  But, really I’d love nothing more than to be out of business and into some other line of work, all because people stayed married.  Marriage is a great thing if you are with the right person.  Unfortunately, divorce is necessary in many circumstances.  But, I seriously doubt that anyone enters marriage with the idea that they want to get divorced.  So, for those out there trying to hold it together, here’s some advice:

"February 15 is one of the busiest days in a divorce lawyer’s calendar," says Dan Couvrette, CEO & Publisher of Divorce Magazine and www.DivorceMagazine.com. "Maybe some of these tips will help improve our readers’ current relationships to the point where they’re willing to try to work things out — or perhaps the tips will help ensure that their future relationships will be happy and fulfilling."

1. Make time to connect lovingly with your spouse every day.

A couple can significantly improve their chances of marital success by devoting as little as 15 minutes a day exclusively to each other. For instance, choose to go to bed a little earlier and wake up a little earlier, and spend the extra time in bed cuddling, making love, and reaffirming your love for each other. Take time every day to have meaningful conversations with each other; to listen with the same intensity as when you were dating; to touch, hug, and show affection; to tell each other how you feel about your marriage; and to talk about your goals for the marriage and your lives.

2. Compliment your spouse regularly — both in private and in front of others.

Even if your partner seems embarrassed or shrugs it off at first, the glow from sincere praise lasts a long time.

3. Love your spouse in the way he/she wants to be loved.
 

We often make the mistake of assuming that the things that touch our hearts the most deeply will affect our partner in the same way. For instance, you may think red roses are the perfect Valentine’s Day gift, but to your spouse, they represent a waste of money and an allergy attack. If you don’t already know, find out what your spouse yearns for, and then deliver it with love — and no comments about how "stupid" it is to want a cordless drill/a picnic on the living room floor/a tuna casserole, etc. Remember: the best gift is something your spouse wants — not merely something you want him/her to have.

4. Take care of your appearance.
 

Look your best for your spouse: he/she deserves it. Lose the ratty sweat pants or frayed sweater he/she hates so much; you can find other comfortable clothing that aren’t a complete turn-off for your partner. This also means taking care of your health .

5. Remain faithful.

Dr. Finnegan Alford-Cooper studied 576 couples who had been married for 50 years or more; she released her findings in a book entitled For Keeps: Marriages that Last a Lifetime. In her study, she found that 95% of the spouses agreed that fidelity was essential to a successful marriage, and 94% agreed or strongly agreed that marriage is a long-term commitment to one person. And these "lifers" weren’t making the best of a bad lot: a whopping 90% of the couples she surveyed said that they were happily married after 50+ years.

6. Do things together.

Another common factor of long-term happy marriages is that the spouses regularly do things together that they find fun and exciting. Whether that’s ballroom dancing, bowling, playing cards, SCUBA diving, or skiing, participate in at least one activity that you both enjoy every week. If you have kids, make sure at least half of these activities are for you and your spouse only.

7. Spend time apart.
 

You take a pottery course while your spouse plays hockey; you play bridge and your partner collects stamps. You don’t have to love everything your partner loves, but you do have to allow him/her the freedom to pursue cherished hobbies. An added bonus is that separate interests can generate interest between you.

8. Be friends with your partner.

According to John Gottman — a psychology professor who claims his research will predict with 91% accuracy whether a couple will stay together — the key to marital happiness and success is friendship. Some of the most important aspects of this type of friendship are knowing each other intimately, demonstrating affection and respect for each other on a daily basis, and genuinely enjoying each other’s company. Gottman based his findings on 25 years of marital research, which he presented in his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.

9. The Terms of Endearment.

Top Los Angeles divorce attorney Stacy D. Phillips says flowers, candy, cards, and gifts are all wonderful tokens of love on Valentine’s Day, but if you really want your romance to last, you must practice some marriage-saving steps. She advises couples to spell out the basics of their relationship in a yearly contract — or at least to clarify them. "Most disputes that break up marriages are over sex and money," she says. "Don’t let surprises lead to trouble. Marriage is like any other contract: its terms and conditions must be reviewed and updated. Right before an anniversary is a perfect time, and Valentine’s Day reminds you to be flexible and that you have to give to receive."

10. Say "I love you" every day.

This is especially important when you’re not feeling the sensation of love; at these times, you have to actively generate it. Saying those three little words, and performing loving gestures, will warm both your and your spouse’s hearts.
 

Hat tip to Divorce Magazine for the idea for this article

This article is featured on avvo.comValentine’s Day Tips

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.