Earlier this year we published a new, fully updated and revised version of Divorce & Spitting Up, Marilyn Stowe’s popular guide to all aspects of relationship breakdown.
Originally published in 2013, the new edition incorporates legal changes which have taken place in the intervening period, in order to ensure that all readers have the most up-to-date information available at their fingertips.
Divorce & Splitting Up is your guide to the full divorce journey, from making that initial, potentially heartbreaking decision right through to moving on with the rest of your life.
In this extract, Marilyn considers whether or not troubled relationships can ever be saved.
Perhaps the question here should really be whether, in your heart of hearts, you want to rescue it.
If the answer is “yes”, the first step is to recognise – as soon as possible – that the marriage has begun to go wrong.
The second step is to decide, as a couple, to do something about it. If only one of you wants to save the relationship, it isn’t going to happen.
A relationship can only be rescued and revived when both parties believe that it is worth fighting for. Even then, it can only be saved when both parties are committed to that fight. There is a world of difference between a genuine desire to work to save a marriage when it is the shared aim of both parties, and when it is a hope and a prayer existing in one mind only.
I am not a therapist, but I do spend my days working with couples in conflict. I have learned that more often than not, the ultimate reason for the breakdown of a relationship is a symptom of that breakdown, rather than a cause. So an adulterous affair that brings about a divorce may not be the initial cause of that divorce: the marriage may, to all intents and purposes, have broken down beforehand.
I advocate holding a marriage together whenever possible, assuming the co-operation and willingness of both parties. The grass elsewhere is not always as green as it may seem. A subsequent marriage is just as likely – more likely, in fact – to founder.
At some stage, you and your partner must have been happy together. You must have been in love and you must have been sexually attracted to each other. Perhaps you enjoyed your relationship sufficiently to have children together. Can those feelings be recaptured?
The biggest challenge is not recognising problems within a relationship, but knowing what to do about them. Often it is too trite simply to say “try harder” or “keep your sense of humour” or “respect one another”. There are some useful resources available to couples in trouble, including marriage counselling services, and these can equip you with all you need to give your relationship another go. If you try your best but are unable to make your marriage work by yourselves, what do you have to lose if you ask for extra help with your efforts?
The second edition of Divorce & Splitting Up: Advice from a Top Divorce Lawyer is available for Amazon Kindle for just 99p.