One of my missions in life is to inspire society to become more accepting of divorce. I believe it to be a much-needed solution for those who've already made desperate efforts to solve their marital problems. I write a lot about the wonderful opportunities that come from separation, and I expend much of my effort to encourage people on that path.
But is divorce always a good thing? No. Should everyone get divorced just to experience the freedom and delirium of starting over and finding New Love? Of course not. Do couples sometimes call it quits too soon, without thinking things through? Sure. Are there reasons to stay with a partner you're not madly in love with? Yes. Below are five of them. They appear in no specific order, and none of them count if they are accompanied by abuse.
1. Financial Security. Money is probably the longest lasting stressor in divorce. Separating a household and spreading the resources across two homes is tough, to say the least. If you're financially comfortable (and especially if you're not quite comfortable) where you're at, perhaps it's better to stay, if only until you can better prepare for the financial impacts of separation.
2. Personal Freedom. Does your partner respect you as an individual? Do you have room to grow as an independent person in your relationship? If so, count your lucky stars. Self care is important after a divorce, and it's equally important within a marriage. Take advantage of the opportunity to expand your horizons while having someone at home to love and support you through the process. Focus on you and you might fall madly in love with yourself.
3. Trust. Real trust is built over time. If your partner is trustworthy and the two of you have an open and honest relationship, you might have a hard time finding that elsewhere. Again, consider yourself lucky. Try shifting your focus to appreciate this wonderful and rare quality in your mate, and perhaps you'll come to see your marriage in a new light.
4. Teamwork. This one is the most important component of a life partnership. Do you work toward shared goals? Do your strengths make up for each other's shortcomings? Is there a natural rhythm to your daily life? Can you sense each other's needs, and are you happy to help where necessary? Could you kick ass on one of those reality game shows?
5. Friendship. Don't underestimate the value of this aspect of your relationship, because we all know that a good friend is hard to find. Isn't it nice to have someone there to share your triumphs and tribulations? Someone to give you a ride to work when your car is in the shop? Someone to watch your favorite TV shows with? Someone with whom to gossip about the neighbors?
Bonus Consideration: Children. Generally, I don't condone the idea of staying together for the kids if the relationship doesn't set a good example for them. But, what if (at least on the surface) the two of you do model the kind of marriage that you want your children to have?
Of course I'm not suggesting that you take a materialistic or convenient view of marriage. We all want to be as fulfilled as possible in our partnerships, but we also can't have everything we want, all the time. We have to make choices, and we have to live with those choices.
Love starts out with hot sex and stargazing and, if all goes according to our ideals, it ends with hot soup and stargazing from a nursing home. What bridges the gap between passionate young love and a mature partnership? Many of the qualities listed above.