Divorce. A big word and a big decision. One that many take too lightly. After 2 decades working to stop divorces, I have heard all the reasons people give — really the justifications. So here is my Top 10 List!
10) This just isn’t fun anymore!
Reality Check: “Fun” isn’t really what it is about, is it? There is no promise that times will be fun. In fact, I think the real question is “what can you learn from these tough times?”
Did you ever think about quitting that “parenting gig” because it wasn’t fun? OK, maybe in a fantasy, but not seriously. Or how about school? Did you stick with it to get where you wanted to?
Marriage can be tough. But for couples that actually work on making their marriage better, the tough times fall away. There will always be tough spots, but couples learn to better manage them — if they focus on improving the relationship.
9) He/She changed!
Reality Check: Thank goodness! We all change. Sometimes, the changes are more popular with those around us. Sometimes, we forget that we changed, too. In fact, what we really missed is that we change each other. The fact that change happened, that is part of the deal. Talking about the changes, good and bad, that is the sign of health and growth.
8) That toothpast, toilet seat, (fill in the blank) drives me crazy!
Reality Check: We all do things that drive others crazy. Marriage puts us into close proximity to those idiosyncracies — and therefore much more into the “crazy zone.” But really, is there no way around that? How about 2 tubes of toothpaste? How about figuring out a way around those issues? Are they really that big?
Oh, and isn’t it nice to be accepted for ourselves, crazy habits and all? It amazes me how often people want to be accepted, but forget that the other person really wants to be accepted, too! Work to accept, rather than judge.
7) We don’t have anything in common.
Reality Check: First, this can be changed. Any two people should be able to find SOMETHING in common. We are really all more alike than different. So look for the commonalities, not the differences.
Then, seek out some places of connection: vacation destinations (perhaps not your first choice, but still fun), hobbies, food styles. . . maybe the kids??? Really, I am just suggesting a shift in outlook, not necessarily a shift in anything else. I can either look for how my wife is different than me, or how we have commonalities. The choice is mine. . . if I choose it.
6) Our finances are driving me crazy!
Reality Check: The most commonly reported reason for marital discord is money. That is the symptom. The real issue is power: who controls the money, what priorities get funded, etc. Money is merely a tool. Use it to further life together.
Whenever power is an issue, the true connection of marriage hasn’t happened. So, time to shift the focus back to connection and away from money.
BIG Reality Check: Think you are fighting about money now? You haven’t seen anything, yet! Divorces attorneys ask for a retainer, usually $3 to $5K. That, my friend, is a downpayment! Double that, since there are two attorneys involved. Then double or triple it. The average divorce in America costs $20,000. Think you can do it for less? So have MANY others. Few succeed.
Oh, then you need to factor in the drop in your retirement to 1/2 of what it is. Then factor in the cost of maintaining 2 households. There is only one financial winner in a divorce: the attorneys.
5) The kids shouldn’t see us fighting!
Reality Check: Agreed! It is very unhealthy for children to grow up in conflicted homes. The constant stress creates a much higher diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder, clinical depression, and anxiety. Quite a price to pay!
But there is that other option of working on your marriage and making it a happy one! You may be teaching your child an important lesson: you don’t have to quit. Sometimes, you can work through tough times and come out better.
4) It won’t harm the kids!
Reality Check: This one fails the research, big time! At one point, some research indicated that children are not affected by divorce. That research has been shown to be flawed. No serious research shows children unaffected.
Think about it, you are tearing away everything a child knows as safety. Even if it has been conflicted, the family is still where a child finds security. Their entire world is turned upside down by divorce. How could that NOT affect them?
Would they recover? Sure, they will move forward. But the scars are permanent and lifelong. Don’t be fooled by those who quote bad research to justify the whole divorce industry.
3) We don’t love each other!
Reality Check: This usually means that the feelings of passion and attraction are missing. No surprise, since the majority of marriages do not nurture the relationship. If I quit exercising, become sedentary for a few years, then look down and am surprised to see little muscle and lots of fat, it would be wrong to use that as proof to not exercise! It is just a reality I have created by not taking care of myself.
The real answer is to get with a program of exercise. In marriage, it becomes about becoming intentional about nurturing the relationship. Will it be easy? No. Ever started an exercise program after being sedentary? Did you get sore? Did that mean you should stop?
The obvious answer is the soreness comes from the muscles not being used to the exercise, and the real solution is to keep exercising. Now, I can’t just jump in and run 20 miles after doing nothing. I have to build up. Same in a relationship. You start slowly and build up. . . and the feelings will return!
2) I didn’t sign up for this!
Reality Check: Likely, you did! Remember this?:
“For richer or poorer”
“In good times and bad”
“In sickness and health”
Not much left there, is it? Broke? Covered. Chronic or even terminal illness? Covered. Lots of tough days, no fun, no talking, lots of tension? Covered.
So are the up times — days of plenty, health and fun. We get too caught up in the negative times and lose our focus. A marriage vow is for life, and works when the relationship is nurtured (notice a common theme here?).
1) (Fill in with your reason)!
Reality Check: (Fill in with your own thoughts)
This is the most important to think about and evaluate, because it is your’s, the reason you are here. Challenge yourself. Think about your reasons, and see if you have built it up into fiction.
There are so many reasons people list for “having to divorce.” Most are fictional, just plain inaccurate. They are reasons we use to justify our decisions. But there are two reasons I find justifiable.
First, I do not think abusive relationships should be addressed by the abused. Abusive relationships are always about imbalances in power. But more than that, abuse usually escalates and sometimes becomes life-threatening. Safety outweighs working on the marriage.
Second, I believe that people who are involved in several affairs have a deeper issue that must be addressed before the marriage is addressed. In other words, if someone has had multiple affairs, he or she is unwilling to live within the marria
ge and the spouse must accept this reality, often by enforcing her or his boundaries — leaving the relationship.
Finally, if there is an addiction involved, this must first be addressed before anything can be addressed within the marriage. Otherwise, it will be a practice in a) futility and b) blame-shifting — the issue centers on the marriage, not on the addiction.
Other than those issues, I believe that marriages can be saved, divorce can be avoided. Healing is possible and connection is the result.
More marriage saving information can be found in my ebook, SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE HERE.