We talk to people every day who want to get out of their relationships for many reasons. Some say they’re just not happy, some say they’ve grown apart. Many couples in this situation seem to think divorce will produce a miracle and make their lives better – but there’s no magic bullet. If you’re thinking about getting a divorce, it’s important to view the situation from a realistic perspective, and that can be really tough to do when emotions are involved. Also, we have a natural human tendency to see things only from our own perspective. So we miss a great deal of important information when operating from a narrow perspective and this leads to poor decision making.
Many people blame their spouse or their relationship in general when they’re unhappy without fully examining the true source of their unease. They have high expectations of what their spouse will and should do for them, or how their spouse should behave, and when those often unexplored expectations aren’t met they decide divorce is the solution.
DON’T ASSUME DIVORCE WILL MAKE THINGS BETTER
Ultimately, divorce can’t deliver happiness. Unless there are extreme circumstances just getting away from another person isn’t enough to create happiness. It’s just not that easy. You still have yourself and your issues to deal with, and there will always be the reality of your next relationship.
We’re not saying there isn’t a place for divorce. Couples with serious problems like intense conflict, abuse, mental health issues, alcohol and drug misuse, or financial mismanagement, often find divorce a good solution.
However, for people who have “fallen out of love” or experience relationship issues, divorce often isn’t the solution many people think it will be. Many rationalize the divorce after the fact and tell themselves it was worth it. But that isn’t true as often as you’d think. The following are just a few of the many unintended consequences that come with a divorce:
- Reduced standard of living
- Financial challenges of supporting two households with the same income
- Impact on children as they become urban migrants between homes, with the logistical challenges of coordinating between two homes
- The impact on your social network of family, friends, teachers and others close to your family as they watch you and your children dissolve your family
- Children or teens being burdened to manage their parents’ strong emotions during divorce and then learn to deal with new partners/spouses, their children, etc.
- The impact on your work and social schedule when there is not another adult in your house to help with parenting
- Ongoing communication problems with children or ex-spouse, ie. you don’t really get rid of your current spouse/partner if you have children together
- New relationships and the many significant challenges of creating a step family
Before you take on these challenges, make sure the relationship you’re in is truly hopeless and that you have thoroughly explored what you can do in your own mind to improve your happiness level. This may save your marriage and prevent the chaos of divorce for you and your family. It will also help you make sure you aren’t going to recreate the same relationship problems all over again in your next relationship. The divorce rate in second marriages is even higher than the rate in first marriages. Always consider whether your personal happiness is really going to increase as a result.