Even just the possibility of divorce can be a scary enough thought to make most want to just stay in place. Add in all of the inner thoughts about what will happen, where the kids will go, what people will think, who will get the friends, and the very idea of making drastic changes to your living situation seem like an impossibility.
Instead of letting those inner demons loose to party in your brain, take a look at the 12 myths of divorce from How to Know if it’s Time to Go by Drs Lawrence Birnbach and Bevery Hyman.
#1 It’s just a rough patch.
This one is only partially true. Sometimes things, like your youngest child needing to finally go to school already are entirely time-related. Research has found that the birth of a baby, raising a young child and the death of a parent can cause the greatest strain on a couple. Other things can get better with some active intervention and commitment. Things like addictions to alcohol, gambling or drugs can be resolved with your support and assistance. If there is major resistance to your efforts to help with the addictions or other large problems, you have to make a hard decision – can you live with this? If not, try to change the situation, but don’t just “stick it out” and make sure you’ve got a time frame on how long you’re willing to wait for these changes to effect.
#2 I’d know if it were time to end this. I wouldn’t be so ambivalent about it.
100% completely false. Of course you’re going to have some doubts about leaving. It’d be much easier if your spouse was an ax murderer. Remember that you started the marriage with hope, inspiration and great expectations. There were positive traits and things you loved about your mate when you got married. Some of those feelings are still there, so unless you’re thinking about divorce every moment of every day, (in which case you need to make changes to repair it or end it once and for all) you’ll definitely have mixed feelings and that’s ok.
#3 I’m going to be alone forever if I leave.
Mostly false. Research shows 75% of women and 83% of men remarry after a divorce. This doesn’t take into account all the people who have a significant others but don’t take the step to remarry. What’s that tell you?
#4 My friends, family and communities will reject me.
Mostly false. That’s pretty antiquated thinking. Most modern cultures are over the stereotypical ‘shunned’ woman. Sure there’s a few sub-pockets of traditional cultures who ascribe to this taboo, but it’s rare. One thing to keep in mind is that you need to prepare your ‘story’ in order for your friends, family and community not to be shocked and to make sure that one party doesn’t appear to be the victim.
#5 I obviously can’t make my spouse happy. Someone else will and do a better job than me.
This is partially true, at least the someone else making your spouse happy part. It’s not that you are bad at it, but if you’re not happy in your marriage, what do you think they’re feeling? Of course it’s going to seem as though the next person is making everything all sunshine and light, but that doesn’t mean that you failed at that. Sometimes what is not appealing to one person (anymore) might be incredibly attractive to another.
#6 It’s all my fault.
Almost completely false. It takes two to tango, and while one person might be the one to bring up the problem they’re seeing, it doesn’t make it all their fault. Breakdowns in communication, power struggles, and failing to listen to the other person’s feelings, not just their words can all lead to marital problems.
#7 If I get a divorce, it’s a personal failing of my own.
Partially true. Marriage is hard, and it takes work. It’s a big commitment and requires an investment of faith, optimism, energy, emotion, trust and time. So, yes, while a divorce represents a failure to live up to these commitments, living in a chronically miserable divorce is a failure of honesty to yourself and your partner. Nothing good comes out of that. The way to start a marriage is with all of that hope and commitment in tact, just like making a marriage better requires all of those same techniques.
#8 If I leave my spouse, there will be no one to turn to if I’m sick or broke and need help.
Mostly False. People who think this are seeing only the worst-case scenario. Your close friends, the rest of your family – all of these people are available to lend support. We all need more than one person to help get us through the tough times, so realize that you’re got more than just your spouse to lean on. Sometimes, support comes from the most unexpected places.
#9 I’ll just get into another bad marriage and make the same mistakes.
Only partially true. About half of all second marriages end in divorce, but there are ways that you as a person can do to reduce the chances of making the same mistakes again. If you picture yourself as a victim or failing to take responsibility for your actions, you’ll fall into the same patterns again and again. If you leave your spouse, you should definitely not rush into a second marriage. Seek counseling to understand yourself and your actions to avoid acting in haste only to ‘repent at leisure’.
#10 I will be completely financially ruined.
Mostly false. The financial challenges that are faced through a divorce – paying for two lawyers on top of the household – are temporary setbacks. The myth comes from a book called The Divorce Revolution, which came out in 1985 with incorrect statistics and bad research. Lester Thurlow, a Nobel Peace prize-winning economist, has gone on record stating that it is not divorce that can cause poverty but instead that poverty can cause divorce. Financial stress brought on by unemployment or other reduced income circumstances, is one of the single greatest causes of divorce.
#11 My kids will be damaged forever.
This one is mostly false as well. For the most part, it’s conflict, anger and alienation between parents that can damage a child’s sense of well-being. Ideally, if you do divorce, for the sake of the kids, it’s important to try and settle your parenting issues as quickly and amicably as possible. Your separation and divorce is something between you and your spouse – even if there are other issues between you, it’s vital that your children be put first and not used as pawns in your argument. You can make sure that your kids understand that it’s not about them – not by just saying so, but by your actions – which will go a long way to ensuring their long term well-being.
#12 My marriage isn’t any different from the rest of the world’s. I’m just making unreasonable demands.
Totally, 100% false. Every single person has the right to expect support, loyalty, respect and more from your marriage.
Author: Colleen Coplick