By Rochelle Bilow for

According to a survey of mental health professionals conducted by, the No. 1 way to divorce-proof your marriage is to improve communication followed by making your spouse a priority — even over kids.

Not surprisingly, "communication problems" is cited as the most common factor (65 percent) that leads to divorce, followed by couples' inability to resolve conflict (43 percent). The top communication complaints when considering divorce: 70 percent of men blame nagging/complaining, followed by their spouse not expressing sufficient appreciation (60 percent). 83 percent of women cite a lack of validation for their feelings and opinions, followed by their spouse not listening or talking about himself too much (56 percent).

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Mike Kemp, Getty Images // Mike Kemp, Getty Images

The biggest factor that prevents unhappy couples from splitting up is kids. However, a significant majority of experts say it's worse for your kids if you stay in an unhappy marriage.

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"73 percent of experts say that mediation, instead of divorce litigation, facilitates a smoother end to the marriage," states Andrea Miller, CEO, YourTango. "And having a prenup ranks last as the most common trait in an amicable divorce. Given how crucial communication is to a successful marriage, better to find a good therapist than a good lawyer!"

If you're really serious about healing wounds, relationship expert Lesli Doares offers some advice: "Have you identified and taken responsibility for your part in the breakdown of the marriage? Relationships are reciprocal. You each put stuff in and you each take stuff out. It is really easy to focus on what your partner is doing without owning your unproductive behavior."

The top surprising traits of successful couples? Pursuing one's own individual interests and hobbies (78 percent ) followed by learning to argue — in a healthy way (36 percent). As expert Ashley Davis Bush explains, "Conflict is inevitable. But conflict has its benefits if you use it productively. Use respectful language with each other and be willing to listen to your partner."

Additional Findings

  • The majority of couples who divorce after seeking counseling do so after less than six months of help.
  • 71 percent indicate sites like don't impact the divorce rate as spouses who want to cheat will find a way irrespective of such sites.
  • 95 percent agree one should wait at least 6 months after a divorce to start dating.

Research methodology: Conducted on, we polled 100 mental health professionals November 6, 2013 and November 12, 2013.

This article originally appeared on Want Your Marriage To Last?