There’s a wealth of marriage-improving knowledge out there from those whose job it is to mend the fault lines that can appear in a relationship. Couple’s therapists. Psychologists. Priests. But there’s also a lot that can be learned from those that who are called to the scene when a marriage crumbles: divorce lawyers. As they’re constantly dealing with love gone south, divorce lawyers pick up on common trends that cause marriages to fail. Andrew Vaughn sure has. In his decade of dealing with failed marriages, the Chicago divorce attorney has seen nearly every version of bad love. We asked him to distill some of the most common reasons couples set foot in his office so you can avoid a trip to splitsville.
READ MORE: The Fatherly Guide to Divorce and Kids
Not Seeking a Therapist For Anger Management or Depression
The refusal to get help for an issue of mental health is a common issue that makes couples enter Vaughan’s office — from anger management to depression and everything in between. “I get people in the office, who if they’d seen a therapist six months prior, their spouse would not have come to see me,” Vaughn says. Men, he finds, often struggle because they’re too stubborn to seek help — a fact that confirms the very present stigma that still surrounds mental health. “Men tend to respond to physical issues. We don’t respond to mental stress because it’s ingrained in us that we need to tough it out,” Vaughn says.
Refusing To Get Help for Alcohol or Drug Addictions
Much like operating heavy machinery, being a good partner and parent does not mix well with alcohol or drugs. “We are frequently presented with people who tell us they still love their spouse but his drinking has gotten out of control and I can’t have him or her around the kids, or we can’t work on the marriage when they’re drinking,” says Vaughn. “If you or your partner are headed down a path, you need to get help now,” Vaughn says.
Frustration Over Money Problems
In its own right, having too little money is a problem but it can escalate into the double whammy of marital discord if it leads to mental health and substance abuse issues as well. “As men, whether because society puts it on us, or we put it on ourselves, we have an expectation that we’ll be the provider for our family,” Vaughn says. “If we ever find ourselves as not the breadwinner, we often do very poorly with it.” It’s a tough reality for many to accept And when this festers, “everything can look like a fight over earnings,” he says.
Problems With Infidelity
“Spouses drink, they do something stupid, and now it’s too late to unring that bell,” says Vaughan. “If you or your spouse is expecting a monogamous relationship and you can’t deliver that then you need to have a serious discussion about whether this is for you,” Vaughn says. In short, if you’re supposed to be a one-woman man, that’s what you have to be.
Refusal To Go To Couple’s Therapy
“You’d be shocked by how successful couples therapy can be,” Vaughn says. Within the last month, he says he helped save a marriage of 25 years by urging the couple to see a counselor. “It’s not over until you’re willing to talk to experts and put in the work. Adding a third person in the room makes things that much easier to talk about.” The guy who deals with failed marriage should know.