Let’s face it: Divorce is a painful end to a relationship that at one time was filled with hope and promise. But marriages, of course, don’t just suddenly take a turn for the worse and inexplicably fall apart. Almost always, the cause of divorce is structural; that is to say, some longstanding issue of incompatibility that did not go away with time (as we so often hope), but, rather, worsened.
If you are in the midst of a divorce, most likely you are overwhelmed with the thorny points of money, property or custody. But as you emerge from the legal dissolution of your marriage and begin to rebuild your life and move forward, it is not only logical, but also absolutely essential, for you to give serious thought to why you and your ex-husband were not compatible. The insights you gain will be the building blocks for a new, successful long-term relationship in the future.
Here are some surprisingly common issues of incompatibility that people tend to overlook in the first blush of romance and love, but usually worsen with time. Look through this list and see how many apply to you and your ex-husband.
Opposites Attract. (But Don’t Always Last.)
You’re a little bit country. He likes rock and roll. Sounds charming, right? For a fling or even a summer romance, opposites often do attract. A successful, enduring marriage, however, requires two people who are more similar than not. A happy couple may have some separate interests, of course; that’s only reasonable and healthy. But if you are intending to spend the rest of your life with someone, by and large, you pretty much need to be two peas in a pod.
Think of what people say about a happy couple in a stable, long-term marriage. “They can complete each other’s sentences;” “Those two are so compatible; always on an even keel;” “Gosh, after all these years, they still clearly love each other’s company.”
Put more simply, you and your future husband must have common interests, a similar worldview, and shared goals and values. If you two are more dissimilar than not, you may have a fun romance, but you will not have a lasting marriage.
Lack of Support When You Are Doing Well
The inability for one partner to be happy for another is a far greater cause for divorce than you would think. Supporting your partner when they’ve been promoted at their job, finally lost those extra pounds they’ve been struggling with, successfully ran a marathon or have achieved some other personal victory is absolutely pivotal to a long and healthy marriage.
Put more simply: if you are experiencing a moment of joy and success and your spouse is not the first person you call, or the one you most want to celebrate with, than your marriage is in trouble.
So take a moment and ask yourself: Was your ex there for you and fully supportive in good times? Were they an integral part of your moments of triumph?
Repeat after me: Communication issues don’t just magically disappear with time. If anything, they can get worse. Problem-solving stems from good communication. And communication encompasses everything in a relationship: sex, money, family planning, etc.
Every relationship has its ups and downs. It’s not just love that will get a couple through lean times. It is their ability to sit down, have a conversation about what’s not working and settle on a path to move forward. If you are comfortable talking to your partner, and if you have a history of moving past issues and hurdles and not getting bogged down in looking back–than there is a good chance you have a happy, stable relationship ahead of you.
Really think on this: how was communication with your ex? Was he open to dialogue? Willing to have a mature conversation about some issue and then move on? In all likelihood, you will probably realize that you and your ex never really communicated all that well. Sadly, poor communication will dog, and ultimately, doom a marriage.
Leticia Summers is a Texas-based freelance writer who has been writing about divorce and family law for nearly 10 years. She has experience comparable to that of a divorce lawyer in Houston, but now calls writing her full time career.