You met the love of your life, got married and planned to spend the rest of your lives together. But after the honeymoon period was over, the reality of living together set in. You realize you and your spouse have grown apart and are now stuck in an unhappy marriage. Suddenly, the possibility of getting divorced is very real, but you struggle with making that decision.
There are several reasons why people stay in unhappy marriages, including finances and social support. If you find yourself growing unhappy and regretting getting married, read on for more reasons why unhappy couples stay married.
Money Isn’t the Only Reason
Although money is a major reason why people stay in unhappy marriages, it is not the only factor. In the case of families with children, many couples choose to stay married out of fear that a divorce would harm their kids in some way. While it’s well established that children of divorce are more likely to engage in high-risk behavior and experience anxiety and depression, research is inconclusive as to whether a child benefits from two married parents or two actively parenting adults. Staying together for “the benefit” of your children thus becomes less important than parenting in a healthy way.
Emotions also play a strong role in deciding to get divorced. One of the most difficult emotions divorcing couples struggle with is shame. Divorce can put people at high risk for feeling ashamed largely because of the stigmas still surrounding divorce. The bar for two people to stay married is very high, especially when couples take an oath pledging “until death do us part” in front of family and friends. What’s important to consider is whether the end of a marriage is equal to a marriage failing. Most couples work very hard to stay together, only to recognize they both have changed and that staying married is not an option.
Fear is another emotion that prevents unhappy couples from divorcing and can be both rational and existential. Common divorce fears range from worrying about finances to breaking up the stability of the family, not to mention the loss of friends and social networks. When a person is irrationally afraid of life without their spouse, or is in an abusive relationship, they may feel forced to stay married.
Holding out hope that your marriage will get back on track isn’t wrong. In fact, humans are hardwired to believe things will get better. But if you recognize any of these reasons why unhappy spouses stay together, it may be time to evaluate your own marriage.
Your Long Term Well Being
Instead of seeing divorce as an opportunity, a great deal of couples engage in chronic litigation, custody battles, and hostile co-parenting. By avoiding the underlying reasons for their divorce, they avoid the work every divorced individual needs to do – grieve, take accountability, make changes, and move on.
If you’re in an unhappy marriage and are considering divorce, it may be time to consult with a family law attorney. Buncher Family Law has been helping divorcing couples since 1996, and handles complex high asset divorce, child custody and support, non-marital cohabitation, and mediation. We are committed to helping couples and families transition to a new beginning. Call us today.