So you’ve found the perfect wife (or husband; ladies, forgive me for sticking with the masculine pronouns for simplicity’s sake), and you’ve asked her to marry you, and she said no a few times, but then she realized that nobody else in the world can put up with her as well as you can, and now you’re getting married. Or maybe you’ve already been married for a while. In either case, hopefully the only time that legal matters will come into your marriage will be when you go to the courthouse to pick up your marriage license. And while hoping is nice and all, there are a few things you can do before and after your wedding day to help ensure that your “I do”s don’t turn into “I’ll sue”s.
- Be sure you know who you’re marrying. As a practical Catholic, I’m not going to recommend signing a prenuptial agreements since you should enter a marriage only if you’re entirely convinced that you’re going to spend the rest of your life happily married to your spouse. Before you put that engagement ring on your finger (or offer it to your beloved), be certain that you truly know and understand this person you’re about to marry. Sure you say you’re madly in love, you both enjoy all the same music, and you’re both members of the same Dungeons and Dragons club; but have you talked about important matters like finance, children, work, retirement, and all those other ominous factors that have torn apart millions of marriages in the past? Make sure you’re both on the same page before you start shelling out big bucks for the most important day of your life, or you could be shelling out even bigger bucks to your ex’s lawyers down the road.
- Tell each other everything. When you enter into a marriage, you’re basically joining yourself to another person. And that’s how you should treat your spouse–as if she were your literal other half. She may not be there in person with you all of the time, but she deserves to know the things that go on in your life. If you’re having trouble at work or your finances aren’t looking too good, don’t keep it a secret. The more you tell your spouse, the easier it will be for her to support you during the more difficult parts of your life, and that will bring the two of you even closer together than you’ve ever been.
- Seek professional counseling in times of trouble. If you’re always griping to your buddies at work that the missus is driving you crazy, or if you two are constantly squabbling over everything, then you could be in the midst of a bigger problem than you realize. The hardest part of saving a troubled marriage is realizing that it’s in trouble in the first place. Once you do that, turn to someone whose career is focused solely on helping married couples solve their relationship problems. And the sooner you identify a potential trouble spot in your marriage and act to correct it, the more likely you’ll be to avoid a one-way trip to divorce court.
- Handle life’s adventures together. Whether you’re buying your first home, having a kid, or just balancing the checkbook, you should keep your spouse in the loop of all the major goings-on in your shared life. Even if she’s no good at math, and even if you don’t understand how something the size of a bowling ball can fit through… yeah…, it’s important that you work through life-changing events as a married couple. Doing things together–even those things you wouldn’t normally consider to be husband-wife activities–can only strengthen your relationship.
- Consider the grave consequences of divorce. So you’ve done all of the above and your marriage is still spiraling out of control. Before you jump to the conclusion that divorce is inevitable, think about what it will mean to the rest of your life. For one of you, it could mean a life of alimony or child support payments that take a huge chunk out of your paycheck. Or it could be you who must raise the children as a single parent–a difficult task that can prove detrimental to the successful development of a child. In the end, the only people who truly win in a divorce are the lawyers who handle the proceedings. So be sure to consider the long-lasting effects of marriage and see if there’s anything more you can do to try to save it before you turn one united couple back into two separate people again.
My wife and I may still be new to this marriage thing, but we closely adhere to the above principles, building our marriage on a foundation of love, trust, and respect. But since we are pretty young, I’d love to hear from folks more experienced in the area of matrimony. So please comment here if you have suggestions for building a better marriage, and hopefully we can work to bring down the soaring divorce rate in this country.
This series concludes next time with a look at some of the ways you can e-protect your e-self from e-lawsuits. You guessed it–we’ll be taking a close look at the laws of the internet and how to keep them from hurting you in a society increasingly dependent on technology and computing.