“According to a recent survey of 191 CDFA professionals from across North America, the three leading causes of divorce are ‘basic incompatibility’ (43%), ‘infidelity’ (28%), and ‘money issues’ (22%).” (Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts 2013). They cited “basic incompatibility” was due to a lack of communication.

If you’re serious about a long-term forever future with your potential spouse, whether you’ve been dating for months or years, I have found these 3 major steps that has made a positive impact on my marriage.

1.) Seek couples counseling.

Do not seek counseling from a friend. They are not the professionals! Counselors are equipped to handle serious issues like: current/past addictions, abuse, trauma, negative childhood experiences, mental disorders, and more. They are the unbiased third party that can give you advice in cases where most likely, your friends will not understand. By law, they protect your private information, which makes it that much easier for anyone to be spill their problems to. Counselors have heard it all.

Most importantly, they help you determine why your communication style may hurt your marriage and figure out the best possible ways to improve the way you communicate! I used assume the worst in people, when I began to realize my past hurts made me believe most people were in it for themselves. Was I wrong! I learned to forgive (even myself), and to extract the other side of the story.

“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22

2.) Be comfortable in your identity.

Aside from couples counseling, seek individual counseling. I have made the mistake of looking to my husband to satisfy my internal needs, when God is the ONLY being who has been able to fully complete me. When I began my journey with Jesus, I began to see more of my identity. Sadly, I’ve seen relationships where the man and/or woman both become overbearingly codependent on the other. In reality, the codependency is too much a burden to bear.

Pursue your interests – apart from each other. Overtime, you will have something fun and exciting to talk about with your man/woman! I love seeing my husband’s excitement light up when he can’t wait to tell me something new he’s been doing like riding his mountain bike or flying his drone. I get super giddy when I tell him about my craft in artful lettering or what I did in barre class.

3.) Take a finance class together.

And be on the same page about finances. The 3rd cause for many divorces happen due to financial reasons. Discuss your debt, how much money you make, and make a list of things you spend your money on. The thing with finance, is it can also reveal what you’re passionate about. Most of all, be a supportive in the habit of saving for the future. You want to travel the world? Buy a house for your future kids? Well, all of that takes money, and although God is the provider, He tells us we need to be good stewards of what He’s blessed us with.

I have recommended Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course over and over because this man of God teaches money in a way you will not learn at your school or in a bank. You learn the principles of how to buy a house, how to invest, how to shop for insurance, and more. When my husband and I started his program, we paid over $25,000 in debt in less than a year! How cool is that?

Have you taken any of these steps? How has it changed your life? I would love to hear from you! I pray God will continue to bless your marriage or future marriage!