Experts in the Media

Catherine Leach – Body+Soul

Family Lawyer | CEO at Leach Legal

‘I’m a divorce lawyer and these are the secrets to a successful marriage’

Don’t discount the power of communication.

Article by Catherine Leach, Family Lawyer & CEO at Leach Legal.

According to divorce lawyer Catherine Leach, countless couples could have avoided her office by following these five simple steps.

Having worked in family law for more than three decades now, I’ve had a front-row seat to the end of thousands of relationships.

It’s a seat with a bird’s eye view.

Ending a marriage and getting a divorce is incredibly hard for everyone involved and even though family law is my practice, I believe that many of the marriages I see ending could have been saved with more effective communication.

And while every situation is unique, I have noticed patterns that repeatedly surface.

I’d like to offer a perspective from the ‘end’ of a marriage to help keep the ‘beginning’ and ‘middle’ flourishing.

Here are the top five insights I’ve learnt regarding communication in a marriage that can make all the difference in keeping a relationship healthy and strong:

Active listening

Listening is an art. It is more than just hearing; it involves understanding and responding appropriately. Many disputes arise simply because one partner feels unheard or misunderstood. Practice active listening – pay attention, respond, and remember what your partner says.

Emotional honesty

Sharing your own feelings and honesty helps build trust, the bedrock of any relationship. Whether you’re feeling happy, sad, anxious, or excited, let your partner know. It’s okay to be vulnerable. This creates a safe space for both of you to share your innermost thoughts and feelings.

Constructive criticism

It’s natural to have disagreements in any relationship. But it’s also vital to criticise the problem, not the person. Attack the issue at hand without demeaning your partner. Use ‘I’ statements instead of ‘You’ statements to avoid sounding accusatory (for example ‘I feel upset when…’ rather than ‘You always…’).

Regular check-ins 

With the hustle and bustle of life, we often forget to check in with our partners. Regularly ask about their day, their feelings, and their thoughts. This shows that you care about their wellbeing and also gives you an opportunity to detect any issues early before they escalate.

Express appreciation

A little gratitude goes a long way. Regularly express your appreciation for your partner’s efforts, no matter how small. This builds positive feelings and can help weather the storms when things get tough.

Remember, at the end of the day communication is not just about talking, it’s about connecting.

In the words of Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

Your best bet is to ensure it takes place in your relationship, effectively and regularly.

And while we can’t always know what challenges life will throw at us, we can work together as a couple to give our relationship the best chance it has to survive and thrive.

If you prioritise these five things in your relationship, there is every chance you will stay connected, stay in love and stay out of my office.

Catherine Leach is the founder and owner of Leach Legal, Perth’s largest and leading Family Law firm, now also based in Melbourne. She is a highly trained divorce and separation lawyer who advises on a wide range of areas.