Risa Ennis Family Mediation and Counselling Services
Taming Your Ego

How to Prevent an Unnecessary Divorce (Part 2)

Every marriage goes through crises.  Like with other crises, in marital ones, rational thoughts and action plans will be a challenge because panic, anger, stress and unsavoury human personality traits dominate. For many couples, however, there is great potential to take the damage that has occurred and unfortunately eroded what was once beautiful, and carve out something more mature and beautiful for these couples. Where there is still the will and desire, even of one partner, it is essential that a thorough examination of the marriage be explored to prevent the carnage that unnecessary divorces experience. 

Unlike necessary divorces there can be felt a residual void in one or both partners, ongoing litigation and acrimony which are the result of confusion, inability to let go because of lack of meaning or understanding for the divorce, and therefore incompleteness. If transformation occurs for the couple, because they are brave enough to confront themselves honestly in their marriage, this may be the most illuminating experience they ever have.  It will change forever the way they think and behave with each other and others.

Instead of irrationality leading to an unnecessary divorce, marital counselling is crucial to help the couple learn more effective ways to manage their stresses.  These stresses are what produce the toxicity, chaos and disrespect in the first place. 


Once abuse/dysfunctional issues have been identified, clarified and understood, with a  professional's guidance, a couple needs to then look at preventative measures to keep the marriage healthy by managing dysfunctional triggers.

The first preventative measure is undoubtedly the continued responsibility of each partner to be healthy, physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.  Each partner must continually assess what it takes to be optimally healthy.  It is not the responsibility of the other partner to do this.  It is the responsibility of each partner to encourage and assist optimal health out of love and concern.

The most important way to stay optimally healthy is to recognize your stressors and tenaciously manage them effectively.  Failure to do this will create many unnecessary divorces as stress will eventually toxify the relationship.  Stresses are the enemy of intimate relationships when the stresses create division and discord instead of solidarity and support. We are never free of stresses so learn to be aware of your stress tolerance level, your ways of de-stressing and your motivation to continually ward against them.

Bringing unresolved family of origin issues into the marriage, unconsciously hoping the marriage will either dissolve or distract one from these painful memories is a sure way to unnecessary divorces.  Counselling can target these issues and successfully navigate through them, without making the marriage the "scapegoat" for past issues.  A common family of origin dysfunction which ruins intimate relationship is co-dependency.  Partners need to be educated and given tools for recovery through counselling for this serious dysfunction.  Low self-esteem is at the core of this dysfunction and other consequences of low self-esteem in one or both partners, which also stems from our family of origins will create unnecessary divorces.

Many couples succumb to unnecessary divorces when unresolved stressors take hold, resulting in one or both partners resorting to disrespectful communication and treatment of each other.  This is seen in all relationships in varying degrees.  We feel that once we are comfortable with our partners, we can relax the "politeness" we used in courtship and slip into disrespect without even realizing this is happening.  We rationalize that all intimate partners do this.  Not so.  The most intimate and loving of long-term relationships all have a common thread, respectful, kind, calm, tender and forgiving attributes that each partner consistently shows to the other.  This does not mean we do not slip.  The difference with healthy long-term lovers is that they know how to be self-corrective and skillfully repair damage very quickly, so as to not sour the incredible investment in love and security they have built over the years.

It is only with the management of stress that one can achieve the above needed self-discipline.  This is the problem with so many people looking for answers.  They refuse to manage their own stresses first, and insist on having the other partner do their work.  Rarely is it the fault of one person.  We all fall prey to stress, no matter how evolved one is and we all must continually honestly confront and manage the stresses.


An unnecessary divorce may be the result of not keeping emotional intimacy to yourselves.  Only share intimate details of your relationship with a mutually agreed upon professional.  This is crucial because once the partners share their intimacies with friends and families, the intimacy is never the same – it has been eroded.  The beauty of intimate relationships is that some things are only shared with the two of you.

Seeking out a qualified professional whom you both can bond with is essential and this regular maintenance, just like using a medical professional, is  one of the wisest tools to use to prevent unnecessary divorce.  A skilled professional continually challenges both partners to look for their accountability instead of falling into the bad habits we have as humans to blame, judge, control, adjudicate, therapize and project.   A sure and unnecessary path to divorce is to consistently demean your intimate partner in any way.  Adult intimate relationships are all about creating and maintaining a deep emotional safety that the couple sanctifies as their unique own.  When we feel emotionally safe, the best parts of us rise to the surface.

Sounds too good to be true?  Probably what is true is the inability and or unwillingness of many people to accept accountability, practice humility, kindness, forgiveness and stress management.

Bring your spiritual/religious teachings to life in your relationships.  I realize many people are cynical and/or nonbelievers.  But for those who are involved in an extended spiritual/religious community, far fewer fall prey to unnecessary divorces. This is not because they are afraid of heavenly punishment.  They are constantly being challenged, reminded and supported in upholding the essential virtues of kindness, forgiveness, tenderness, honesty, humility, assertiveness, boundary setting, tolerance and commitment- virtues essential for preventing divorce.

Setting realistic expectations is key in preventing unnecessary divorce.  All long-term relationships will have their challenges.  Both partners must be realistic in evaluating the logic and usefulness of their expectations for each other and the marriage to counter unnecessary stress which will escalate into unnecessary conflict.  Evaluate your current expectations. See if they are outdated or borrowed from your family of origin, or others, and if they fit with the uniqueness of the partner.

Both partners must  also have the ability, which comes with good self-esteem, to successfully grieve the youth of their relationship, making room for the deeper  and more complex seasons of the changing relationship. Many unnecessary divorces are the result of one or both partners not being able to accept their aging and mortality.  Instead, they choose affairs or other adult adolescent behaviours to quiet their inner panic over this ultimate loss of control.

Unnecessary divorces abound when the relationship stops being your first priority.  I once heard a wonderful analogy for preventing unnecessary divorce.  It likens marriage to sterling silver, not gold.  Gold can be safely tucked away in a drawer, needing no attention to keep its beautiful shine.  But sterling silver will turn black and unsightly if we do not continually and lovingly polish and nurture it to maintain its beauty

A Last Word:

Good self-esteem is crucial for the swift healing
for both necessary divorces and to ward against unnecessary divorces.  It is also what makes a relationship peaceful, loving and happy. Good self-esteem is the bedrock upon which everything
will be tested and affected.

Next, a couple must regularly safeguard their connection with each other with regular time alone to have fun, de-stress, renew and grow their intimacy uninterrupted.  The children must learn from an early age that the couple is the foundation of the family and a healthy couple maintains a healthy family.  This safeguards the unnecessary threat of  divorce as everyone in the family feels renewal since the leadership respects and institutes this, thus giving themselves and the family a strong sense of purpose and the benefits of giving and receiving love.

Each partner must be aware of the other’s limitations and strengths.  Each partner must skillfully maneuver around the limitations of each other to concentrate on the strengths which enhance the relationship. This is emotional maturity which is a natural trait in those with good self-esteem.

Risa Ennis Family Mediation and Counselling Services

Telephone: (416) 636-2946

Email:  risasmediation@rogers.com

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