Based on reader comments and emails, I get a sense that a big demographic of Divorced Girl Smiling are men and women staying in an unhappy marriage, all with different reasons for staying.
Although every marriage and situation are unique, I can think of 11 things people say to justify that staying married is their best option. Before I list them, I want to stress that I am not promoting divorce, but rather that instead of justifying why staying in a bad marriage is the best option, men and women might want to think about taking steps to make the relationship better.
So, here are 11 things people say to justify that staying in a bad marriage is the best thing, along with my rebuttal for each:
1. I don’t want my kids to grow up with divorced parents. Ask yourself, Are the kids better off growing up in a household where there is no love or a lot of friction or possibly cheating or other unhealthy behaviors?
2. No one would ever want to date me at this age, and as a single parent with kids. Not true. You have no idea how many older, single parents are out there and want to be in committed, loving relationships.
3. I’m scared. I don’t blame you. But, isn’t is scarier to stay in a relationship that is making you miserable?
4. I need his/her financial security. I don’t want to have to go back to work. I love my lifestyle. It’s understandable. It’s a comfort zone. But, this reason leads to lack of self-love and self-respect.
5. I’m sure a lot of couples feel this way and they just stay together. I’m sure too. Does that make it the right thing to do?
6. There’s no divorce in my family and I don’t want to do that to them. They’ll get over it. If they love you, they want you to be happy.
7. I’ve never been alone. I don’t think I could do it. Yes you could. You have inner strength you don’t know about.
8. I want to be a real family. You will be much more real if there is love in your family, not just love between your spouse and your kids and you and your kids, with that missing link of love between the two of you.
9. I don’t want to have to move out of my house. I don’t blame you, but a house is brick and drywall. You could be happy in a shack if there is love in the home.
10. I don’t like change. No one does. It creates stress and fear. But sometimes change ends up being the best thing that ever happened.
11. I don’t want to be divorced. Again. (for second marriage). Is it really worth staying unhappy because you are worried about what people think?
Here’s the thing. Again, the purpose of this article is not to encourage anyone to get divorced. Trust me, I am a huge fan of marriage, IF both people are happy. My point is that instead of accepting the unhappiness, men and women owe it to themselves to say, “I’ve had enough of staying in an unhappy marriage, and I’m instead going to make changes to improve the relationship.”
This could include talking to the spouse and really making an effort to do things that make each other happier, going to counseling, and/or even a commitment to starting over with a clean slate, with an agreement to erase all resentments. It’s not easy, but couples have been known to succeed and become stronger and better than ever.
Let’s face it. Staying in an unhappy marriage is a choice. What are some other options?
- Bad behaviors like cheating, drinking, gambling, drugs and other very unhealthy behaviors, but let’s be honest, those are temporary fixes that lead to other problems.
- Or as I stated above, making the effort to be a happier couple.
But leaving things status quo? That could possibly be the worst choice of all. Worse than #1? Hard to say. Perhaps staying in an unhappy marriage is just a different kind of bad behavior.