As you’ve likely heard by now, Bill and Melinda Gates have announced their decision to file for divorce after 27 years of marriage. The pair, who together have built The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – an organisation that is reported to have given away some $US50 billion – shared a statement on their split over Twitter. They wrote:
After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage. We have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives.
If the news has left you gobsmacked and wondering if love is dead, you’re not alone. Thankfully, however, we have some tips on hand from an expert in marriage (and divorce) who can share some advice on what to avoid if you want your relationship to last.
Elliot Polland has been practicing divorce law since 1968, and he’s seen it all, from lovers’ quarrels to full-blown implosions of people who wish they’d never said “I do.”
We asked Polland to share the most common pitfalls he sees couples experience — and how to avoid them.
#1 Lack of communication
It’s important to resolve disagreements right away and not let resentment build. Polland recommends taking time in the evening to right any wrongs that may have occurred during the course of the day.
“There’s an old saying, ‘Never go to bed angry with each other,’ and I think that’s true,” he said.
#2 Ignoring red flags
“You have to be diligent in making sure that your relationship with your spouse hasn’t gone awry,” Polland said.
He described “aberrant or unusual behaviour,” such as changing passwords, making or receiving calls at hours that don’t seem appropriate, or a sudden wardrobe overhaul, as tell-tale signs of an affair.
“Sometimes if you catch it early, you can resolve the relationship,” he said. “The longer that extramarital relationship continues, the harder it is to unravel it.”
#3 Choosing the wrong partner in the first place
“A lot of times people choose somebody for the wrong reasons,” Polland said. “You’ve got to have a solid foundation in the relationship so that the relationship can continue when some of the other factors start to erode.”
This article has been updated since its original publish date.