Everyone has their own story to tell when they come for their initial divorce consult, but invariably there are five common mistakes people make in their relationships that tend to make matters far worse for a couple than anyone could ever have imagined:

1. Shacking Up– Many people think that moving in together will reduce the arguments over “silly” things like an inconvenient commute, inability to coordinate schedules, or repeated miscommunications.  These actually are not silly things at all– they are red flags of deeper issues.  Glossing over these things is not smart.  Couples fail to realize that moving in together brings on a whole new set of stresses to the relationship, such as managing a household budget, making joint purchases, and compromising on “me” time versus “we” time.

2. Popping the Question– When you doubt someone’s commitment to the relationship, you need to work on that issue first– getting engaged is not the solution to that problem.  Outside family pressures, or the fact that a child is on the way, should not be the compelling reason you are going to tie the knot.  There are plenty of other ways to demonstrate that you are committed to someone that don’t require the purchase of major bling.

3. Let’s Have a Baby– I’ve lost count of the number of people that thought having a baby would bring them closer to their spouse.  While it is a very happy occasion, it is also one of the most disruptive events that can occur in a couple’s life.  For nine months, a woman’s body and hormones will be in constant change, and then after the baby is born, you will both be sleep-deprived and under constant alert to care for all the needs of a helpless infant that will demand your undivided attention.  Meanwhile, forget about having sex for several weeks, along with wine if you are breast-feeding– so there go those forms of release. Hopefully you can see why this just tends to compound problems between partners.

4. Agree to Disagree– Sometimes, it is okay to just respect that you each have your own opinions, but when you keep avoiding arguments by just agreeing to disagree, and then you each do your own thing, this is NOT a good thing.  People in successful marriages are able to listen to one another and reach a compromise; they do not ignore problems because they know that these don’t just go away. Here is how I see it: If I respect you, then I am going to take into account what you have to say, and if I love you, I will make certain sacrifices because I care enough to make sure your goals– not just mine– are being met as we build a partnership.

5. Buy More Crap– As much as I love a little shopping therapy, I am well aware of its limitations.  Some people think that just buying more toys is going to make everyone happy– let’s buy a new car, new beach house, etc.  In some homes, it is like Christmas every day– and yet the family bond is totally lacking.  In many of my cases, the spending is out of control, and this breeds a lot of resentment and often comes at a hefty price, either a huge amount of debt or almost non-existant savings.  I am begging you to cut out the needless spending and focus on what really matters– those family ties.

It is natural to want to seek pleasure and avoid pain, but I am begging you to take the long-term view on things.  Yes, in the short-term it may suck to deal with a bad break-up, call off a wedding, postpone having a child, and/or cut back on your spending while you figure out what the real void is that you are trying to fill.  It is hard to work out issues in a relationship, and there aren’t any overnight solutions that will magically bring back those initial butterfly feelings you felt in the beginning, but if you want to spare yourself (and those around you) far greater pain in the long run, take the time upfront to confront what is causing you discomfort.  It is my experience that ignoring warning signs and plowing forward has caused far greater suffering than anything else, with far reaching consequences well beyond anyone’s imagination.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.