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Article by listed attorney: Fawzia Khan

As February is considered by many to be the month of love, with Valentines Day around the corner, this article takes a brief look at relationships and how to protect them. In my professional career as a lawyer, I’ve seen and come to recognize what sort of behaviour can ruin a marriage. Last weekend my husband and I celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary. I can’t believe how quickly the years have gone by. Off course he says he’s the world’s most tolerant husband. So not true! Whilst this is said in a teasing playful manner, the truth is that in any relationship or marriage, both partners do need to exercise and exhibit patience towards the other. Accept yourpartner’s minor imperfections and recognize that you also have annoying or irritatinghabits, which your partner needs to deal with. In this article, I share some of the knowledge and tips I’ve gained over the years, both in my personal and professional experience in this field, so that you can avoid the pitfalls that plague some marriages. Hopefully in this way you can both work on achieving and maintaining a healthy, balanced and ultimately, happy marriage, which will hopefully last a lifetime.

Good communication is the key to a healthy marriage. Talk to each other as youwould talk to your colleagues at work, that is with respect. Recognize that conflict is inevitable in any relationship. It’s normal. What’s important thing is to manage thatconflict so that it doesn’t escalate out of control. In an argument avoid destructivebehaviour like shouting and screaming. Try to deal with contentious issues in acontrolled and dignified manner and certainly away from earshot of the children .Avoid name-calling and mudslinging. Even stone walling your spouse by giving himor her the silent treatment should be avoided. Never use the threat of a divorce unless you are sure the marriage is heading in that direction. Don’t sweat thesmall stuff. Humour is an excellent way to diffuse potential conflict. You don’t need to prove you are right all the time or win every argument. The oft-repeated phrase that “love means never having to say sorry”, really doesn’t have a place in a healthy loving relationship. If you have made a mistake, say sorry! Acknowledging that you regret hurting your spouse will go a long way in restoring normal relations between the two of you. Don’t bring up the past. Move on. Forgiveness and letting go of the past could see a re- kindling of the romance you once shared. Agree on how you will both raise your children and what values you instill in your children. Being on the same page when it comes to your parenting style is vital. Many of my clients who were very successful people in their business or professional fields were however unable to keep the marriage relationship steady simply because they were so busy making a success of their professional or business interests, that their own personal relationships took a back seat and eventually began to crumble. The rule to remember is that it’s as important to invest one’s time and energy in nurturing one’s relationship with one’s spouse or partner, as it is with anything in life worth having. Don’t take each other for granted. Laughing with your spouse, doing silly things together as a couple, not taking yourself too seriously are some of the things I would also recommend.

However, if despite your best efforts to keep a marriage alive you find that the relationship has nevertheless broken down, then divorce is the only alternative to getting back on your feet and starting afresh. Lifestyle norms and changing values over the years has seen much change to our divorce laws. Today we have the “no fault” system in place which means that it’s far easier to get divorced now, than it was decades ago. When a marriage has reached such toxic levels that it would be harmful to your physical, emotional and mental health if you had to stay in the relationship, then ending the marriage through divorce is indeed the only cure. A divorce can catapult a person’s life into an emotional roller coaster. Even though this period is temporary, there’s no denying that it is nevertheless stressful. What claims and demands you make of your spouse in the divorce proceedings or even what offers of settlement are made by or to you, will have consequences for you, long after the divorce is finalized. Make sure you get the maximum out of the divorce, that’s best for you and for the children (if you have any). It’s therefore vital that you have an attorney who acts in your best interest at all times and can help guide and advise you through the turbulence of divorce litigation. In this way you will hopefully emerge intact and have a future where you are financially and emotionally secure.


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