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'How we dodged divorce': The lessons one man learned in 15 years of marriage.

Our relationship was tough from the beginning.

We didn’t have some deep-rooted issue. Our problem was two-fold; first, the issue was expectations. I would expect my wife to perform certain tasks (without mentioning them to her!) and she would expect me to behave in a certain manner. We never effectively communicated our expectations.

We’ve been married for 15 years. I would like to say all of the trouble ended after that first year. What I want you to know, if you are newly married or considering marriage, is this: you will have trouble. You will have conflict. You must decide, as a team, that you will navigate through whatever issues arise, as a team.

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My wife and I dealt with some pretty tough issues after the first year: distrust, poor communication, and financial struggles. These three issues nearly destroyed our marriage. I am grateful to be here today, still married after nearly 15 years, to encourage you and hopefully provide a couple of realistic and practical tips on how we brought our marriage back to life.

Here are some ways my wife and I brought our marriage back from the brink:

Communication.

Communication is, and will always be, the number one tool to successfully navigate life with your spouse.

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Effective communication in our marriage is critical to solving life’s problems and experiencing a favorable remedy. Communicate in a manner that your spouse can hear and receive. Be flexible. I have personally learned to never communicate out of anger. I am continually learning how important not only communication is for my marriage, but also how important effective communication is as well.

Listen to our Just Between Us podcast below on Everlasting Love. Post continues after podcast.

Clarity.

Having a sense of clarity in your relationship is crucial.

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It is easy to allow your mind to wander back to the pain you experienced during difficult times. When you do this, you create a fog in your mind. Whether you know it or not, it affects your communication, attitude, and sets the temperature for your relationship with your spouse.

Personally, I have learned dwelling on what happened in the past will never help me achieve great things in my marriage in the future. Let go of the past, find clarity in your here and now.

Fight fair.

Screaming at each other is counterproductive. But, so is giving the silent treatment to your spouse.

You might be thinking “Oh, this dude wants me to just pop up and say, ‘I am sorry, you were right and I am wrong.’” No, this is not what I am insinuating. You are probably at the place, like I was, where you are exhausted from arguing, exhausted from trying, and you simply want peace; with or without him/her. Check this out, if you want to give yourself the best chance for a victory in your present relationship, count to ten, for that matter, count to 100 before you respond in anger.

Watch the Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn fighting in The Break Up below. Post continues after video.

I recently heard someone say they gave themselves 24 hours before they responded to a message or email by which they were angered. I say, if he/she angers you this badly in your marriage, give yourself a cool down time before responding.

Do what you did when you got their attention.

These steps must be executed strategically. If your marriage is on a downward spiral to the big “D” (as in Divorce), you must exhaust all efforts. I can tell you from my personal experience what will happen if you bail easily on this one. Maybe you, like I have done in the past, have gotten complacent in your relationship.

Maybe your wife is doing most of the work around the house, maybe you never get off the couch, I don’t know. Think back to what you did when you got your spouse’s attention the first time you dated. For my wife and I, it was through working out, talking, and being friends. Yes, we were “just” friends. Now, she’s my best friend, but, not every day is perfect. Deal with it.

You see, both my wife, and I, have realised that forgiveness is sometimes difficult, but required almost daily. When we put these tools to work in our marriage, we found it much easier to return to a peaceful marriage, and save it from divorce.

Click through the gallery below for long-term celeb couples.

This article originally appeared on the Good Men Project and was republished here with full permission. 

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