Portrait of John K Grubb

Texas Divorce and Prenuptial Agreement

5005 Riverway Drive, Suite 450 • Houston, Texas 77056

Phone: 713-877-8800 • Fax: 713-877-1229

Secrets to Avoiding Divorce

The Secret to Avoiding Divorce

I have handled hundreds of Texas divorces in my career, have worked with fellow attorneys who have handled thousands of divorces, and have observed thousands of divorces being finalized in court on a daily basis. There are many, many different reasons why marriages fail.

  • Some marriages fail because the people made a tragic mistake in marrying each other. They should have known at the very beginning that their relationship was never going to make it.
  • Other marriages fail because of pressure from family. Frequently one party to the marriage is not accepted by the other party’s family.
  • Sometimes marriages fail because people change dramatically over the years.
  • Sometimes marriages fail because people become alcoholics, drug addicts, or workaholics.

Nevertheless, I’ve observed many marriages that have one or all of the above traits, and have remained viable.

So what are the reasons marriages, even troubled marriages, remain viable? The vast majority of marriages that make it, even troubled ones, make it because of money, sex, power and respect.

My observation is that the amount of money that a couple has is not nearly as important as how they manage it and whether or not they share common goals with regard to their money. I’ve seen couples that by all statistical data would be considered rich end up divorced because of disputes over how they’re going to spend and manage their money. And I’ve observed many poor people who literally struggle day to day to the pay rent and keep the electricity on who are happily married. When I see young couples running into money problems, I frequently refer them to Dave Ramsey’s course, Financial Peace University. I have seen quite a few shaky marriages become solid after the couple completed the Financial Peace University course. I think the most important thing in connection with money is to have common goals and to work together to achieve those goals.

Every major statistical study shows that sex is an important part of marriage. As a minster’s wife told me “you and I can do everything together as friends – we can hug, we can go to dinner together, we can go to movies, we can laugh, but we cannot have sex – that is for your spouse only.”

Generally men are labeled as the aggressors wanting more sex and women are labeled as passive, not wanting as much sex as their spouses. I think that is an outdated tradition. My observation is that lack of sex is a problem for both men and women. I commonly joke that the average couple that has been married for ten or more years spends more time getting the oil changed on their car every year than they do on working on their sexual relationship. Frequently couples start out at about the same compatibility level on sex. But they frequently get out of phase because of work, career development, operation of a house, or children. Once they get out of phase, the relationship begins to deteriorate.

Children frequently are a major factor in a couple’s relationship – little league, softball, soccer, dance lessons, play dates, birthday parties, parent teacher organizations, Cub Scouts, Brownies, you name it As a friend of mine says, “its divorce because of children.” While most of the things people do with their children are worthy and good, how valuable are they to a child’s long term happiness if the parents end up divorced?

Sex is like any other good thing in life — you have to work at it, you can’t shove it aside, you can’t assume that it’s automatic and you have to pay attention to what you’re doing! I tell parents to put your marriage first, your children second, and in the long run of life your children will come out the winner.

Finally, watch out for power struggles. Couples frequently get into power struggles, and there’s nothing uncommon about that. Some people like green walls, some like blue walls, some like modern furniture, some like antiques. Sometimes our need to win can become overwhelming and destructive to your marriage. This is particularly true of type “A” personalities. Remember to old saying “win the battle and lose the war.” Fortunately, most of the power struggles about material things do tend to dissipate over time.

The power struggles that I found that do not dissipate and frequently lead to divorce have to do with children. Needing to win or have power over your spouse when it comes to the children is the ultimate form of disrespect to your spouse. For example, your child’s brain is one half mother and one half father, if a spouse does something to hurt the other spouse he or she has just hurt one half of their child’s brain.

When it comes to disciplining the children, frequently one parent is a stern disciplinarian and the other parent is lackadaisical about discipline. Most often, instead of learning to work together and to support each other, eventually one person will triumph over the other and will essentially control the children. Usually the person that is in control becomes more and more domineering towards their spouse.

The aggressive person generally becomes more and sterner in regards to discipline. The lackadaisical person sits back and bites his or her tongue hoping that the problem will eventually go away as the children grow up. Instead, they become more and more passive over time, and eventually become resentful of the spouse with the power.

This is a recipe for disaster — eventually one too many bricks are put on the balloon and the balloon comes crashing down out of the sky. This tragically occurs when children reach the age of 12 to 15 — when children need both parents more than ever. If you find you and your spouse are arguing over the children, take a parenting class together, meet every Saturday morning to review the past week and plan the next week with the children, go out of your way to support your spouse in front of the children, and realize that your way is not always perfect.

I represented a fellow several years ago who was divorcing a lady after 26 years of marriage – a lady he described as a “lovely lady” – so why the divorce? In 26 years of marriage, she insisted that they spend every holiday with her family. He actually liked her family, but he finally realized that she was determined to win most arguments and that she simply did not respect his opinions and wishes. Always work to balance power between you and your spouse – over major things and minor things. And most importantly, whether you win or lose, do so gracefully.

So If I have any advice to give couples to keep their marriage intact, it is to develop common goals with regard to money, work on your sexual relationship, learn to share power and respect your spouse. If you do these things hopefully you will never end up in a Texas divorce attorney’s office.

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