7 Pieces Of Dating Advice From Divorce Lawyers Who Have Seen It All

By Gwen Farrell
·  6 min read
shutterstock 2203856621 (1)

Most of us probably like to think we’re experts when it comes to dating and marriage, but who better to ask for advice on these important topics than the people who’ve seen what works and what doesn’t: divorce lawyers.

Divorce is not even on our radar when we tie the knot, but sadly, the statistics don’t lie. Approximately half of married couples end up severing ties and parting ways, but thankfully, the professionals who help them do it have their own tips to offer up. Here are seven pieces of dating advice from divorce lawyers who’ve seen it all.

Really Get To Know Them

Awkward small talk may be a perfunctory first or second date ritual, but if you’re lucky enough to get past your date’s basic info, don’t be afraid to get into the nitty-gritty. We’re not talking social security numbers exactly, but pastimes, hobbies, close friends, education, etc. You can tell a lot about a person just by how they talk about their family, and family especially can be a big clue as to your man’s future goals and outlook on life and success. Enlist your friends if you need to, says Houston-based divorce lawyer Susan Myres. It never hurts to Google, Facebook, or Instagram your date.

Communicate Effectively

One North Carolina family attorney reveals that the number one reason couples head for divorce is communication. Lack of communication can lead to unnecessary pain, distance, misunderstandings, arguments, resentment, and even infidelity. Make sure you’re communicating effectively as one half of a whole, and do whatever you can to encourage your boyfriend to open up as well. 

Know What a Real Commitment Means

Being married or even in an exclusive, monogamous relationship means surrendering to the big C: commitment. This might be easier or harder for some people, but knowing what it means in the first place is acknowledging what you’re signing up for. You can’t date someone or be married and still act as if you’re single. This means humbling yourself, and yes, doing the sometimes annoying things you wouldn’t normally do as a single person, like asking for input on plans or having uncomfortable conversations on emotional baggage. It also means protecting your relationship from external or even internal negative influences, like insecurity or an ex who always seems to hang around.

Protect your relationship from external and internal negative influences, like insecurities or your ex.

If you’re considering marriage, it also means learning that marriage (aside from death) is the most significant thing you can ever do, according to James Sexton, a divorce attorney who’s been practicing for over 20 years.

Your S.O. Won’t Change (But Stick with Them If They Do)

“If you want to be with a person who is social and very outgoing, then don’t marry someone who is a homebody,” says attorney Linda Zhou. Don’t go into a relationship thinking that all the annoying or bothersome quirks or idiosyncrasies your man has will eventually dissipate or even disappear altogether – if anything, what annoys you most about them might become more pronounced over time. Don’t try to change your S.O. It’s not fair to them, and it’s a misguided move on your part.

On the other hand, in order for a marriage to endure for decades, we have to realize that our spouse may experience changes over time, and we have to be prepared for that. Financial struggles, family deaths, or other factors can motivate individuals to change, and as part of a committed relationship, you’re along for the ride whether you realize it or not.

Talk About Finances Before You Need To

Aside from realistic conversations on family, religion, sex, and politics, discussing finances is the most important concern you should have in a serious relationship. Don’t ignore the issue because it may be uncomfortable. After a certain amount of time (probably not on the first date), ask your boyfriend about their thoughts on debt, saving, and investing. Ask them about student loans or how many credit cards they have and what specific approaches they take toward paying those off. Don’t go in blind. Know what you’re getting into, especially if the other person has a diametrically opposed approach to money and finances than you do.

Dating Is Easy…Marriage is Hard

If your dating relationship is fraught with conflict, drama, constant anguish, and pain, just think about what getting married might be like (and don’t be fooled into thinking that a significant commitment would magically make your relationship better). Marriage is the hard part, which means that dating should be easy. Sexton says, “I think what a lot of us are looking for in someone to date is very different than what we’re looking for in someone to marry.” If your boyfriend is a rock musician constantly on tour or a high-powered corporate executive who’s always at work, they might not make for a very present husband. This isn’t to say that they’re not the right person for you, but these obstacles will only become harder to maneuver after marriage. 

Don’t be fooled into thinking that a significant commitment will magically solve your dating woes.

“What makes for a good boyfriend or girlfriend and what makes for a good spouse or partner, especially if you want to have kids, is a tremendously different thing most of the time,” Sexton adds.

Know What You’re Fighting For

Thinking about divorce, separating, and breaking up can be a frightening thought, but it can also help us put into perspective what we’re fighting for. If we’re really fighting and working for our relationship, we won’t let it end without putting up a fight. Your love, your future, and the person you love most are what you’re fighting for, and through years of annoyances or inconveniences, it can be easy to forget that when we’re bogged down by negativity. 

We should try to make our relationship as impervious as possible to the evils of the modern world – only then can we truly say we did all we could do. 

Closing Thoughts

Though our culture might act like it, divorce isn’t something that should be taken lightly or joked about at all. Couples who see divorce not necessarily as an eventuality but just as a possibility have already weakened the structural integrity of their relationships. A good marriage starts out with a good relationship, and taking into account what people who deal with divorce for a living have to say about it gives us a better idea of what to do – and what not to do.

Don’t miss anything! Sign up for our weekly newsletter and get curated content weekly!