Our whole life is a series of interconnected relationships. Parent/child and wife/husband are probably the most important ones and our personal relationships the most difficult.
The nature of all of these relationships is constantly evolving. The relationship between a parent and a toddler is very different to that between a parent and a teenager. This evolution happens gradually and is a natural outcome of the passage of time.
Divorce is different
It certainly is, it's sudden, traumatic and life changing. It hits you like a truck. The best way to avoid this trauma is to understand how to listen out for that truck coming down the road. There can often be distant rumblings early in the relationship. At this stage it's hard to tell how far away the truck is and at what speed it is approaching. To avoid the truck smashing into you here is some advice to help keep your relationship clear of a bloody, expensive and potentially life threatening motorway smash.
Get some counselling - now
As soon as you hear the distant roar of a 40 ton truck coming your way do something about it immediately. Start by talking about your concerns with your partner. That can be difficult and so much easier said than done. You can go to Relate at any time, things don't have to be desperate before you seek their help.
They are good, have been doing it for years and have lots of experience. However, a word of caution, their best counsellers are fantastic but the odd one or two are no better than talking to your milkman or the cheerful checkout lady at Asda. So if you're not happy with your counseller then speak to them and explain that things are not working out and you want to work with someone else. They will understand.
An important early sign
In the early stages of a relationship, it's easy to show affection for each other. However, over time, although you may still love each other you have begun to take each other for granted. Each assumes that the other knows how they feel. Work, stress and the pressure of bringing up a family can easily so overwhelm couples that they feel they have no time for quiet moments of intimacy to express their feelings and give mutual support and encouragement.
Stage Two - the truck is getting closer
If you don't give yourselves time to nurture your relationship then making love will dwindle in intensity as well as frequency which just fuels more tension and even less sex. If this situation is left unresolved then a barren and even hostile marriage can be the result.
Stage Three - The truck is metres away and the brakes don't work
This stage is often characterised by one partner trying to control or dominate the other, or sometimes each partner trying to do that. This is never a good idea. If it continues it is a form of psychological abuse. A relationship like this is some way down the road towards collapse. However, it's never too late for counselling so do try it.
If that doesn't work divorce may be the only way. The gentler cooperative way to do this is through a Family Mediator. It's the best way to go if you can cooperate with each other and agree the arrangements for the children as well as the often complex financial arrangements.
However, if your partner is angry, bitter and resentful then get the best lawyer in town and give them permission for a first use of battlefield nuclear weapons. This is war and the best strategy is surprise and the use of overwhelming fire power. Don't do this unless all other ways to resolve the relationship have been exhausted. If this is the only way to go then be totally focused and, it's so sad to say this, absolutely ruthless.