The 4 Horsemen to Avoid an Apocalypse – Call the Counselor!

We made it through another 4-part series discussing the four Horsemen to Avoid an Apocalypse. In this context the four Horsemen are the four statistical indicators for a long-term, successful marriage. The apocalypse is of course, divorce. To refresh, the three other Horsemen are: a minimum of 2 years of serious dating, marrying after at least age 28, not living together prior to marriage, and now engaging in pre-marital counseling. Why?

As a divorce attorney, I’ve seen couples cite a number of various reasons for divorce. Overwhelmingly, each of these reasons is a topic that could have been discussed prior to marriage and addressed in a therapeutic environment. Let’s analyze a few of the top reasons:

  1. Familial interference – I’ve addressed this in a prior blog, but what I’m referring to are the classic meddling in-laws and meddling family members. At first, it may seem great that our future spouses have close relationships with their family. But, probe a little deeper. Are they close or are they too close? Has your future spouse on multiple occasions with various topics changed his or her mind after discussing it with her sister? Worse, does your future spouse say things like, “my sister says that I should XYZ.” Forgetting or minimizing that you, the future spouse, already suggested XYZ? Does your future spouse wait to make a decision until after speaking with assorted family members? Or does your spouse rely financially on family members to support basic living expenses? A good counselor will probe who forms your future spouse’s support system and what, if any, emotional/financial dependence is embedded within that support system. Remember, these behaviors either don’t change or are slow to change.
  2. Money – Chances are, one spouse is a spender and the other is a saver. Or, one is a spender on certain items and a saver with others and those habits are incompatible with the other spouse’s spending habits. Conflict over different money habits is personal. Money assures us economic stability. When our economic stability is shaken, it affects us at a visceral level. A good counselor can facilitate communication about how the couple will approach their finances. In addition to uncovering habits, assumptions, and expectations, a good therapist can discuss communication tools so that rather than fight over a $30.00 Amazon purchase, the couple actually discusses the root cause of the conflict. 
  3. Infidelity – Of course no reasonable person goes into a marriage expecting to be cheated on or is expecting to cheat. A good counselor can explore with the couple the typical triggers that cause infidelity and can proactively discuss how to avoid them. 
  4. General roles and expectations – A good counselor can discuss how a spouse views him/herself and how the other spouse views him/herself. For example, if a spouse is expecting the other to be a “go-getter” financially, that expectation can be discussed. If a spouse expects to focus primarily on raising children, that expectation can be discussed. 
  5. Addictions – A good counselor can explore substance abuse red flags and the impact it has on a marriage.
  6. Abuse – A good counselor can spot behaviors that are abusive and can attempt to raise awareness and rehabilitate those behaviors.
  7. Sex – A good counselor can discuss what the expectations are in this area and how to communicate better and/or compromise.
  8. “Growing apart” – To me, growing apart is BS. It’s really code that spouses quit working on companionship. More on this in a future blog. 
  9. Last, for blended families – A good counselor can discuss how the spouses will address step-children parenting issues and co-parenting with the other parent. What role will the step-parent have with regard to discipline and general caretaking? How can the step-parent have a positive impact on the family. How will the spouses approach the children and their natural apprehension toward the new marriage. Will there be new children born to create a “yours, mine, ours” situation? If so, how will the spouses approach this with the children to ensure emotional needs are met. And a myriad of other blended family concerns.

I strongly recommend anyone considering marriage see a good marital and family counselor at least 6 months prior to marriage. In the alternative, I recommend that future spouses discuss these areas in a meaningful way to identify discrepancies and reconcile differences. 

I’m often asked for recommendations for a couple’s counselor, I always recommend, Earl Ledford, LCSW. Mr. Ledford see couples in the office or virtually. His contact information is: https://www.earlledfordlcsw.com/. For divorce coaching services, please visit www.thereslifeafterdivorce.com or call (321) 505-2847. For divorce legal representation, please visit www.sharpdyelaw.com or call (321) 951-7600. 

 

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Sharp Divorce Coaching

Divorce is much more than a legal matter to you and your family. We understand this intimately and would be honored to provide you with direction, emotional support, and an unbiased opinion to help you come up with a game plan.

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