Ask a Wedding Expert: What’s the Secret to a Happy Marriage?
We asked a divorce lawyer who's seen it all.
Welcome to Ask a Wedding Expert, a series where local pros answer your most pressing wedding-planning questions. Have one of your own? Email email@example.com.
Whether you’re a newlywed or still planning your walk down the aisle, you might instinctively turn to your married parents or your first-to-be-hitched BFF for tips on ensuring a successful union. Another approach? Consulting an expert who deals with the less rosy side of marriage on a day-to-day basis. Enter Marcia Mavrides, lead attorney at Boston-based firm Mavrides Law, who has 35 years of experience observing what causes relationships to flourish or flop. Read on for her advice.
What’s the secret to a long and happy marriage?
In my opinion, communication is key. It ensures both parties have a concrete understanding of what they want out of their partner and out of life. This means talking about finances, religion, children—everything! I once had a client who was getting divorced in large part due to issues relating to parenting. Throughout the divorce process, the couple began working with a parenting coach, who was able to help them bridge the divide by learning skills for better communication.
How else can you achieve this level of communication? Aside from counseling, which I do think can be very effective, my best answer is a prenup. My clients tend to be higher net-worth individuals, many of whom own their own businesses or have complex financial situations. I often tell people to make sure they have a prenup, not only to protect their interests, but so that their intentions are clear when entering the marriage. A prenuptial agreement allows the couple the opportunity to really sit down and discuss their marriage, their expectations of each other as partners, their plans once they have children, and what may happen in the event of divorce or death. Communication is a powerful tool, and most couples don’t take the time to discuss these touchy subjects before marriage.
My last piece of advice is simple: Make time for each other! Date night allows you and your spouse time to catch up on your lives outside of family time. Oftentimes with children and work commitments, the day-to-day takes over, leaving little time to connect with your spouse. I have worked with clients in the past who began divorce proceedings but were ultimately able to repair their marriage by making a commitment to mend their issues. One client told me that date night was a key component of this. By spending quality time with their spouse, they were able to get to know each other again, and they are happily married to this day.
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