The rate of divorce has seemed to have skyrocketed in recent decades.  In the United States, today's statistics often estimate roughly 50 percent or more of marriages ultimately end in divorce, although, it is hard to pin down an exact percentage. 1

With oft-quoted high percentages of marital breakups, it may cross the minds of some married couples what they can do to solidify their own marriages, to help ensure they fall into the percentage of couples that do not end up in divorce.

Even though statistics are hard to pin down, one thing is certain, divorce is not an uncommon event these days, and a recent study suggests divorce might even be on the upswing.2  So what can couples do to diminish their chances of heading to divorce court?

While nothing is infallible, couples can reduce the risk of divorce by incorporating some basic marriage recipe ingredients that can contribute to development of a healthy marriage.

1. Share Solid Communication

Solid and ongoing communication is one of the primary foundation blocks of a good marriage. Without strong communication, it is inevitable a marriage will likely suffer on some level. Couples who work hard at communicating to their needs, dreams, hopes, concerns and love for one another are more likely to understand where their mates are coming from in any given situation.

Strong communication will also lessen the chance of serious misunderstandings occurring and can remove feelings of alienation in the marriage. Talking about everything can also alleviate the often-cited money problems that are a big reason for the issues in many relationships.

Couple in love
Credit: sharayah Sherry from Boise, United States/Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license w/Attribution

2. Commit to Open Honesty

Honesty is another primary ingredient that is important in any committed relationship. Lies have no place in a marriage and when one partner consistently fibs to the other it is bound to lead to trust issues. This lack of trust can plague the relationship. However, couples who can honestly share, even if the news is bad or might possibly make the other person angry, are more likely to work through issues and come to a workable resolution. Conflict avoidance may alleviate a short-term clash, but can lead to long-term damage. But the bigger problems usually arise when one or both persons in a marriage tell lies to each other. Maintaining open communication and honesty goes a long way in reducing the risk of divorce.

3. Share Feelings

It is sometimes hard to share feelings, especially if doing so opens up vulnerabilities or if the suppressed feelings stem from conflict avoidance. A partner who is fearful of expressing emotions, perhaps fearing that expressing his or herself may result in a conflict, the decision to not share feelings most often does the relationship a disservice. This is largely due to the fact that resentments or insecurities build up and eventually manifest in such a way that hurts the marriage.

Feeling comfortable with sharing feelings is critical to a relationship and, for many people, this does often take practice, but is well worth the effort invested.

"I love you" written in sand
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

Sharing feelings with a loved one can be expressed in a variety of ways

4. Spend Quality Time Together

Often people can get lost in their careers or in the lives of the kids.  Even a daily routine can put a damper on the ability to spend quality time together. For some people, that might include an excess of time on social media. If this sounds familiar, you are not alone, many couples are not alone in finding "couple time" is reduced, and as a result, two people can sometimes drift apart. It isn't that they don't love one another, but just get wrapped up in individual hectic schedules.

While days may be crazy busy, it is always a good idea for a couple to make time to spend with just one another. This is often tricky, and sometimes time needs to be actually scheduled in, but many relationships experts recommend regular "date nights" that give the couple time to focus on one another and maintain an intimate connection both physically and emotionally. Date nights do not have to be complicated, it can be anything from dinner and/or a movie or just spending a quite evening alone together (turn the electronic gadgets off!)

There is no sure-fire formula to prevent a divorce from occurring, however, couples who invest time and energy into their relationship and nurture their marriage on a routine basis can significantly reduce most risks associated with divorce. They'll also cut the bad habits that can create problems in any marriage.

Just like other things people take care of in life, a marriage needs to be nurtured too. As a result of putting effort, such as these four ways to strengthen a marriage, couples can find they have a loving, fulfilling and happy life together.

Couple enjoying view of cherry blossoms
Credit: Leigh Goessl/All rights reserved

Couple enjoying time together at the Tidal Basin in Washington DC during the peak blooming of cherry blossoms.