By Allison Pescosolido MA and Andra Brosh PhD, founders of Divorce Detox
Few people "want" to get divorced. It can be incredibly difficult and painful. As a result, an extraordinary amount of women remain in marriages that are unhealthy and even border on dysfunctional. It may sound obvious to jump ship when a marriage goes south, but there are a multitude of reasons why women (perfectly capable of making sound decisions) stay.
Why Women Stay in Bad Marriages
1. They don’t want to hurt their spouse or kids.
Many women are conditioned to put others first. When it comes to making decisions, they will consider everyone else’s feelings before their own. While the intention to not hurt loved ones is beyond reasonable, sacrificing one’s own happiness for the sake of others can backfire.
Related: What to Do if You Feel Trapped
2. Their biological clock is ticking.
Whether a woman wants to have a child-- or wants more children, the idea of starting over close to child bearing age invokes feelings of desperation. She may feel that leaving her marriage, no matter how bad, robs of her of only chance to be a mother.
3. Their lack of self-esteem causes them to “settle.”
Nothing erodes self-esteem quicker than an unhealthy relationship. Many women remain in dysfunctional marriages because they are convinced that this is all they deserve. When bad things happen, they simply grit their teeth and tell themselves that they should be grateful for what they have.
4. They don't want to disrupt their married life style.
For women who have become accustomed to the married life, it can be a difficult habit to break. Their professional and/or social circles might look unfavorably upon those living the single life. Their families may stress marriage as the only path to happiness. Perhaps they plan to have a child or an additional child. Maybe they simply enjoy the domesticity that often goes hand in hand with marriage. Whatever the case, the desire to maintain her present lifestyle can be a powerful deterrent to any woman considering a separation.
5. They lack the financial means to leave.
There are many women who fear the loss of financial support once divorced. This is a legitimate concern for many women, but it is often a false belief founded on insecurity and being overly dependent. In the end however, a lack of money should never stop a woman from doing what she needs to do to protect her own health and happiness.
6. They don't have a reference for a healthy relationship.
Some women in dysfunctional marriages are simply re-enacting the dysfunction that they experienced throughout their lifespan. Many women have no healthy relationship models to draw from leaving them powerless to know that they can do better.