Divorce. A big word and a big decision. One that many take too lightly. After 2 decades working to stop divorces, I have heard all the reasons people give, reasons that are really just justifications. So here is my Top 10 List of Reasons People Give (and really should stop using) —
10) "This just isn’t fun anymore!"
Reality Check: "Fun" isn’t really what it is about, is it? There is no promise that times will be fun. In fact, I think the real question is "what can you learn from these tough times?"
Did you ever think about quitting that "parenting gig" because it wasn’t fun? OK, maybe in a fantasy, but not seriously. Or how about school? Did you stick with it to get where you wanted to?
Marriage can be tough. But for couples that actually work on making their marriage better, the tough times fall away. There will always be tough spots, but couples learn to better manage them — if they focus on improving the relationship.
9) "He/She changed!"
Reality Check: Thank goodness! We all change. Sometimes, the changes are more popular with those around us. Sometimes, we forget that we changed. In fact, what we really miss about relationships is that we change each other. Change happening is part of the deal. Talking about the changes, good and bad, is the sign of health and growth.
8) "That toothpaste, toilet seat, (fill in the blank) habit drives me crazy!"
Reality Check: We all do things that drive other people crazy. Marriage puts us into close proximity to those idiosyncracies — and therefore much more into the "crazy zone." But really, is there no way around that? How about 2 tubes of toothpaste? How about figuring out a way around those issues? Are they really that big?
Oh, and isn’t it nice to be accepted for ourselves, crazy habits and all? It amazes me how often people want to be accepted, but forget that the other person really wants to be accepted, too! Work to accept, rather than judge those little things.
7) "We don’t have anything in common."
Reality Check: First, this is just not true! You have a common history, perhaps children and assets, joint experiences, intermingled friends and family. You have lots in common, when you choose to take a look.
Second, this can be changed. Any two people should be able to find something in common. We are really all more alike than different. So look for the commonalities, not the differences.
Then, seek out some places of connection: vacation destinations (perhaps not your first choice, but still fun), hobbies, food styles. . . maybe the kids? Really, I am just suggesting a shift in outlook, not necessarily a shift in anything else. I can either look for how my wife is different than me, or how we have commonalities. The choice is mine — if I choose it.
6) "Our finances are driving me crazy!"
Reality Check: The most commonly reported reason for marital discord is money. That is the symptom. The real issue is power: who controls the money, what priorities get funded, etc. Money is merely a tool. Use it to further life together.
Whenever power is an issue, the true connection of marriage hasn’t happened. So, time to shift the focus back to connection and away from money.
BIG Reality Check: Think you are fighting about money now? You haven’t seen anything, yet! Divorces attorneys ask for a retainer, usually $3 to $5K. That, my friend, is a downpayment! Double that, since there are two attorneys involved. Then double or triple it. The average divorce in America costs $20,000. Think you can do it for less? So have MANY others. Few succeed.
Oh, then you need to factor in the drop in your retirement to 1/2 of what it is. Then factor in the cost of maintaining 2 households. There is only one financial winner in a divorce: the attorneys.
5) "The kids shouldn’t see us fighting!"
Reality Check: Agreed! It is very unhealthy for children to grow up in conflicted homes. The constant stress creates a much higher diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder, clinical depression, and anxiety. Quite a price to pay!
But there is that other option of working on your marriage and making it a happy one! You may be teaching your child an important lesson: you don’t have to quit. Sometimes, you can work through tough times and come out better.
More Divorce Advice on YourTango: