Divorce? We Can’t Get Enough Of It (On Screen)

Here's some advice from a divorce lawyer on how to make a marriage work..

Laura Dern and Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story

by Anna Silverman |
Updated on

Abi Morgan’s juicy drama revolving around a family of female lawyers, returns to our screens this week. The women are sharp- suited and no-nonsense – not dissimilar to Laura Dern’s turn as a divorce attorney in Marriage Story, for which she picked up a BAFTA last week.

In real life, around 62% of divorce lawyers are women, and London-based Ayesha Vardag – dubbed the Diva of Divorce is one of the leading names. Since launching her firm in 2005, Vardag, who charges an eye-watering £895 an hour, has overseen thousands of cases. But, she says, her job attracts many misconceptions, in particular that divorce lawyers want to break up families or tear couples apart.

‘Actually, lawyers have gone into that particular area of law because they really care about families,’ she tells Grazia. ‘They could have gone into an area with more money, but often they’re fighting to achieve something positive for someone. That is, an independent future and a fair deal where you won’t destroy all good will and you’ll keep children safe and loved.’

Working with so many couples in crisis has taught Vardag, twice married herself, a great deal about relationships. Namely, that women are the ‘agents of change’ when it comes to divorce. ‘Anecdotally, it’s more often the woman who will say, “I’ve had enough,”’ she says. ‘Men might check out of the marriage by having affairs or engaging in behaviour that is difficult to live with, but they won’t usually want to get divorced. Often, the men are seeking to reconcile or hoping the whole situation will go away.’

So, what has she learned about making a marriage actually work? Absolutely key, believes Vardag, is making your partner a priority. ‘Set aside time and make them feel like a priority. When you’re building a life together, it’s easy to let your partner fade into the background, especially if you have children.’ Here’s her other advice...

Be each other’s best friends

‘It’s important for your partner to have friends, but they shouldn’t be getting all their emotional support from another person – you should be their best friend,’ says Vardag. ‘Because sometimes, if they do seek support from someone else, that person won’t just be their friend – it could become a potential new relationship.’

Always take their side

‘When it comes to family disputes, your partner needs to feel like you have their back. That doesn’t mean siding with them when they’re wrong or encouraging them to hurt someone in your family, but you should make them feel heard and act as a team.’

Remind them who they first fell in love with

‘Quite often, you meet someone when you’re studying or first working together and you’re this bright, interesting, fun person. When you build a life together, those parts of yourself can erode away. Evolving as a person is natural but try to maintain some of the qualities that initially attracted your partner to you.’

Keep your own interests

‘Having separate hobbies and passions is important to maintaining your own happiness, which can only help your marriage. This will also stop you losing your own personality in the stresses of work, family or children.’

Make your own money

‘Financial independence is very important to make a marriage work. You need to have access to your own money; it’s very easy for financial dependence to create problems or resentment.’

Don’t give up too easily

‘Making a marriage last is hard work – you need to be prepared to stick through difficult times. Of course, if your marriage is putting you at risk or damaging you in any way, this doesn’t apply. But if you’re dealing with less serious issues, time can always change your perspective.’

Keep having sex

‘You have to make time to keep the passion alive. Couples who have sex often are the ones who stay together – that’s a fact!’

‘The Split’ starts 9pm, 11 Feb, on BBC One

READ MORE: Is This Proof That Your Marriage Is Built To Last?

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