When couples struggle in marriage, they often think divorce is the only option.
Certainly, marital conflict is complex and painful and we could not offer recommendations here for your specific situation. We’re aware that many spouses find themselves being divorced and would never have chosen this path. Some marriages involve violence or repeated infidelity, suggesting that divorce may be the safest option.
Believe it or not, most divorces occur in couples who are not volatile and violent, but in couples who are unhappy, unfulfilled, or unsatisfied. If you are considering filing for divorce because marriage is not all you expected it to be, this blog is for you. We want to offer information regarding the long-term effects of divorce to encourage you to consider other options before pursuing the serious pathway of divorce.
Often, the long-term effects of divorce are only talked about when it comes to children. (There’s good reason for this: according to the National Institutes of Health, divorce can have huge psychological impacts on kids of any age.) But many folks don’t think about how much a divorce can impact them. The shock wave from a divorce can ripple through your life for a very long time.
What Are the Lasting Effects of Divorce?
Some of the most common lasting effects to think about include:
The average cost of a divorce is $10,000. Custody battles increase this amount exponentially. In addition, previous expenses that were shared, are no longer shared, and household expenses are doubled once couples separate. If you have children, you’ll also need to think about child support costs. Could you invest in your marriage instead of giving the money to lawyers? (Consider books, babysitting, marriage retreats, counseling, etc.)
Co-parenting is the ideal standard once a couple has divorced, but the same issues that made it hard to resolve problems in marriage still exist after separation and divorce. Co-parenting is difficult; it can become even more difficult if step-parents get involved. Could you and your spouse commit to work toward resolving the differences that exist?
The Reality of Going It Alone
While folks often feel initial relief once the divorce has gone through, going through life without a partner can be stressful. During the transition involved in divorce, there is often a time of changing support systems. Couples that used to be your friends may feel as if they have to choose sides, and instead simply avoid you (and your spouse). Other friends may have been connected to you through a context of your marriage. Many folks do not know how to be with others when they are in pain and may pull back because they feel ineffective as a friend to you. Could you face the feelings of loneliness in your current marriage and find ways to reconnect and/or accept the level of connection that is offered to you?
Depending on the reason for your split, the unresolved issues may lead to difficulty trusting again. While it seems obvious you may not trust others, it’s less obvious that you may have difficulty trusting yourself. At some level, we understand that we played a part in creating and maintaining the problems in the marriage. Could you admit the parts you play in the conflict with your spouse and work toward changing you?
Resolving Relationship Conflicts Without Divorce
Sometimes, a different perspective is necessary to help you salvage your marriage. That’s why, at Envision, we use a variety of different counseling techniques and interventions. Obviously, no two marriages are exactly alike. It’s important to understand why you’re feeling so “stuck” within your relationship. That’s not always easy to do on your own! Albert Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
In marriage counseling at Envision, we’ll do five major tasks (in addition to addressing the specifics):
- We’ll figure out what each spouse wants. Generally speaking, we all want to be loved. We want to feel safe and connected in our marriage.
- We’ll look at at what happens when things go wrong, and teach you how to stop those negative cycles.
- We’ll teach you how to address what the real issues are. For instance, you may fight about something “silly,” but the silly thing taps into a fear of rejection. We help you talk about the real issues in a safe environment.
- We’ll encourage you to forgive. Ruth Graham said “A good marriage is the joining of two excellent forgivers.” You can’t be married to someone without needing to forgive and be forgiven.
- We’ll re-establish fun togetherness in your relationship.
Is a Divorce Really What You Want?
It’s important to take the time to think about what you could really be sacrificing and dealing with when you file for a divorce. If you’re hesitant at all, consider counseling. Our experienced therapists at Envision would love to talk with you and your spouse about the possibility of bringing life back into your relationship. Contact us today.