Sometimes, we miss the first signs that our marriage is over. It is not because we are dense, but rather that we choose not to notice these clues. Are we so wrapped up in our lives that we cannot recognize when a marriage is dead and is on life support? Avoidance is a way of not dealing with a situation. By wearing blinders, one can pretend all is fine. Admitting that there are problems is a given; that effort will be required to address them. It takes a lot of energy surviving in an unhappy marriage, and some do not want to exert more energy in fixing it or getting a divorce. This is taking the path of least resistance and keeping the status quo.
One may be in a dead marriage, but fear of change can keep someone trapped. Some women enjoy their lifestyle of being a soccer mom and household manager. When not needing to bring in a second income, they can volunteer, be active in their children’s school and have more time to get together with friends. Getting a divorce is unknown territory that potentially affects their social standing, where they live, and finances. Nowadays, alimony is usually given for a few years or so after a marriage has ended, and this can be a motivator to stick out a loveless marriage. Divorce often involves moving, which is especially traumatic when liking the neighbors and house location. Divorce may feel like a gamble – so some choose to stay put in their current marital situation where they know what to expect.
2. For the sake of the kids.
Women may stay in a bitter marriage because they think that is best for the children. Some dads are very hands-on and active in their kids’ lives, such as being their sports coach. Mothers may feel guilty if the kids would not have both parents in the home. While it is a noble thought to be with both parents ’round the clock – in actuality, that may not be in the youngsters’ best interest. Living in a tense atmosphere or with angry adults is not healthy and spending time with happy parents, albeit separately, is. When caught up in the turmoil of a miserable marriage, it can be difficult to envision that there will be quality time spent with each parent. Kids will adjust to divorce, especially when being with calm, less stressed, and happier parents.
3. Some people stay in a marriage because they feel that they can fix their spouse.
The problem is that the other person does not feel that something is wrong with them. It is delusional thinking to believe one has the power to change another person since only that person can make the choice of which path to take. Women have stayed with alcoholics. The drinkers alone decide whether or not to do the work necessary to become sober and maintain sobriety. A few women I met felt they could reform drug addicts and supported them through various stints in rehab. It was only when they became pregnant or had a young child that they said “enough is enough” and parted ways.
4. Some women stay in a marriage because they feel that they can cope with heartbreaks such as infidelity.
They want to believe their spouse when he says it was just a one-time fling or that the affair did not matter at all. Women may feel that the bribes of jewelry or a trip to take the cheater back justifies the pain they endured. Or they may be conditioned to think infidelity is a part of their spouse’s DNA, particularly if that behavior runs in their family. In one case, a woman tried to stay married after finding out about her husband’s long-term mistress. She eventually filed for divorce. What surprised both former spouses was what good friends they were. They ended up retiring together in Florida and were platonic housemates until the former wife died (he went shortly after).
Divorce does not have to end a relationship – but just alter it in a possibly better way. Acquaintances of both genders tell me what great friends they are with their ex-spouses. They have their exes meet potential new partners for honest feedback. Several men I know are friends with their exes’ new husbands, and this is especially beneficial when children are in the picture. Think of divorce as a new beginning to life!
More from DivorcedMoms: