How to avoid divorce and save your marriage: excerpted from the Divorce-Avoidance Handbook from A-Z

THE DIVORCE-AVOIDANCE HANDBOOK FROM A-Z: Save your marriage!!!
Anger is inevitable but destructive to a marriage. Talk it out. Communicate. Listen. Hear. Deal with issues when they pop up. Do not go to bed angry. Ever.
Be proactive. Don’t wait around for problems to crop up and leaks to spring in your marriage. Stay engaged. Grow your friendship and your trust with regular activities. Stretch the rubber band of your relationship to test for resistance from time to time. Be a great boyfriend/girlfriend even if you already took the vows.
Cultivate a friendship with your spouse. Friendship outlasts sex. A friend in need is a friend in deed. It is an action word. Do you have your spouse’s back? Does your spouse have your back? If so, your marriage will probably last. If not, it probably won’t.
Demand respect. No healthy marriage can exist where there is no respect between the spouses. It is horizontal. No one spouse deserves more respect than the other. There is no hierarchy with this. You are both on the same level with this or you don’t have a marriage that will last
Evolve over time. Don’t be static in your growth as a human being; you will more than likely get left behind. Who you are when you get married in year one is not who you are in year five and year twenty. The same is true for your spouse and if you have not evolved, you will seem like an old computer – boring, ineffective and inefficient – that needs to be traded in.
Find interests of your own. It is not fair to expect your spouse to be all things to you including your entertainment and your rock and your shrink and your bank account and everything else besides. It is too much of a burden to put on one person. Find a life of your own even if you are married. You will be richer spiritually and emotionally and infinitely more interesting to your spouse as a result. Surely there are things you are interested in? Write a book or something. Take cooking classes. Do something. Find interests.
Give generously of your self to your spouse. It is unrealistic, however, to think that you will give and give and get nothing back and stay happy. Giving is a two way tree in a marriage.
Happiness can be achieved if you both realize that your individual happiness is your own job and that when you come together, you must do so as two separate happy people merged into one happy couple.

Initiate often. Whether that is sex, love, affection, money, attention, kisses, whatever. Keep things edgy and full of surprises. Keep dating.
Just a little bit goes a long way sometimes. You may not have as much time as you want to spend with your spouse, but when you are together, make it count. Be totally present. Make your spouse feel that he or she is the most important thing in your life at that moment. A thoughtful gesture can go a long way. Just a little touch at the right moment can do wonders.
Knowledge is power. Know your spouse. Spend time studying him or her and enjoy the journey of achieving knowledge of them. But know yourself as well. Grow together in the knowing.
Leave well enough alone. Not everything has to be explained ad nauseum. Not everything has to be a big fight. Pick your battles. Let some things go. Be more confident.
Maintain a separate identity. The marriage and relationship should never define who you are as an individual.
Never bad-mouth your spouse with anyone. Not even your mother or your best friend. This is a very toxic thing to do and eventually it will contaminate the trust and integrity of your marriage.
Overrule (in the context of parenting) only when absolutely critical and never in front of the kids.
Play hard to get sometimes. The challenge keeps things edgy.
Question things. It opens up discussion and allows truth to come out. Truth is very important to a successful marriage.
Restitution sometimes has to be paid in marriage. Everybody messes up. When you do, make restitution.
Sorry is as sorry does. Words are cheap. If you are really sorry, show it by your behavior. Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody needs to do penance from time to time. But if you keep repeating the same mistakes that is a function of character. You are not sorry if you keep doing the same thing over and over. And when you are not genuinely contrite, you jeopardize the integrity of the marriage.
Trust is earned. It is not an entitlement. Don’t forget that.
Utopia does not exist but you can strive to come as close as possible by being committed to a relationship that is healthy and solid. Obviously that is not easy to achieve and you don’t get it by talking. You get it by doing, by taking the sort of action that fosters a peaceful and contented marriage.
Vaingloriousness is bad in a marriage. It is narcissistic and selfish. It can lead to reckless behavior that destroys trust. Guard against it.
Worry about the big stuff only.
X out minor flaws and mistakes and give each other second chances.

Young up yourself especially in the mind. Don’t get old and uncaring and complacent. Stay active. Do things. Go places. Develop ideas. Be interesting and fun. Play. Play with your spouse. And laugh a lot.
Zap problems before they become puss filled pimples in your relationship.
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/grafixer/ / CC BY 2.0
Originally published february 19, 2010