10 Things You Rarely Hear About Divorce
Divorce is so commonplace. Right now you can immediately think of a hand full of people in some stage of the divorce process. Of all of those people, is there one couple who are both better off in a great place, happy that they divorced or are divorcing, with bright, happy, healthy, balanced children? For being such an everyday occurrence, there is a lot of hush-hush and shame about it. The job of your family is to love and support you. The job of your friends is to rally around you and help you tune your war cry. The job of your children is to be kids. Here are a few details of divorce none of them know or will be bold enough to say.
The Greener Grass is Full of Manure.
After being married a while, your spouse might seem like a cord of dead wood or a noose around your neck; keeping you down, bossing you around, getting on your nerves, there in your face at your every turn. Living with anyone else is hard.
Perhaps your friends are always talking about their wonderful husbands, or worse, perhaps all of you get together and try to outdo one another for whose husband is a bigger jerk. It happens. We are all flawed. And, maybe – just maybe, that guy at the office who always swings by and stands in your cubicle door is starting to look better, all crisp-collared and pressed. Perhaps, the guy at the Apple store is paying you more attention and it is dangerously dragging your feelings down for your husband.
Now, more than ever, our photoshopped Facebook friends look a heck of a lot better than our unfiltered, farting mates. Especially, when we see others for milliseconds and are stuck with our snoring sweethearts. We are being honest, right?
Well, watch where you step, those greener grasses are poop minefields. The bottom line on happiness in marriage is that you have a choice. We want to empower you to be happy and whole, and breathe new life into your love.
If it is important to you, you will find a way.
If not, you’ll find an excuse.
Marital Happiness is a Habit. Divorce Won’t Solve a Single Thing.
The following are a few of the most noted reasons for divorce:
- Not feeling fulfilled
- “Falling out of love” / Growing apart
- Financial woes
- Having romantic feelings for someone else
- Not being attracted to their mate
Each of those reasons are valid. If you are looking for a reason to find the exit to your marriage, you will certainly find it. But, if you want to find a solution for the struggles you might have encountered, or if you are proactively looking for ways to keep the lifeblood in your marriage, you will also find those. That slight perspective change might be all the saving grace you need to push through tough seasons in your life or partnership. Divorce is not a solution.
Divorce will not make you feel better about you. You will not be fulfilled, or satisfied, by breaking your bond. You will not get your love back by leaving. Your family will not be mended. Your children will not be happier with their parents at war or shuttling them between homes. You will certainly not be more financially stable in the throes of legal battles!
We seem to look around at the greener-grass marriages of our friends and think of them as satisfied and happy; they look like paper cut-outs straight from a Disney movie. The truth is that marriage is not for flimsy folks. Marriage takes brass and fortitude. Happy couples have habits that keep their marriage healthy and happy.
Here are some habits that help couples through hard times:
- Fill your fulfillment tank with a regular gratitude practice. Spend more time feeling thankful and grateful in your life and let that positivity flow out onto all of the relationships in your life.
- Fall back in love with your partner by adjusting your focus to all of their wonderful traits; spend time thinking about how your love felt in the beginning when it was fresh and new. Kindle those fires.
- Take a money management class when money gets tight; get educated on financial options to improving your situation. Get into agreement about how money can support both of you and support your goals as a family.
- Your love is not lost if you feel a nudge of emotional connection for someone else. It is a sign that is calling you back to your partner. If you feel there is an emotional leak in your relationship, there is no better time than now to get it mended. Don’t wait!
- If your attraction to your mate is waning, let them know by reminding them how much you love it when they wear a certain something…else. Just like anyone else in your life, your husband or wife will respond well to a little positive reinforcement.
“Going to Court and Getting What is Due” is a Joke. Really – a Farce.
Divorce is not a Hallmark movie. The first hurdle is the legal process. Typically that process costs every dime you ever thought about saving for a rainy day – plus your children’s college tuitions. And, it doesn’t stop there. Truth is, the family court system is not what you might think and even if you “win” first time around, that changes a lot in the next several years of legal battles. Once it starts, it rarely ever ends until your child is of legal age.
No legal advice needed, here is some simple math on the cost of raising children versus the laws on child support obligation. Child support calculations are pretty simple in most states and factor in the ratio of money you make versus the amount of money your spouse makes. Then the cost of child care, health insurance, and needs above and beyond normal care are tallied. After that, the “custody nights are all counted.” Each parent is then given a dollar amount that they pay as an obligation.
Here is what is not factored into child support calculations:
- The cost of school supplies or expenses outside of tuition
- Birthday gifts, sleepovers, movies
- Cell phone bills, or internet costs
- Groceries, no matter if your children plow through several hundred dollars per month
- A car when they are old enough to drive, not to mention car insurance
- Daily vitamins, allergen free food, skin care needs, or personal hygiene items
- Clothes and shoes
So, even if you get a king’s ransom in child support while your children are in daycare, you will still likely not make enough to really put anything back or save. That money will barely cover child care costs. Once your children are school-aged, that dollar figure generally shrivels. You will be lucky if they are supported enough for the cost of groceries. Past the tender years, once your children really get expensive, very little of that is covered at all.
Remember, all that you had saved was spent on attorney’s fees, so those funds are not there to tap into either. Probably not what you saw on television. Definitely not the happy ending.
Your Life Will Get Exponentially More Complicated.
Divorce does not just fracture a family – it fractures lives. Regardless of how high you are in your marital happiness scale, your life is connected to your husband or wife. When that bond is broken, there is a whole lot of healing to be done. That becomes more complicated when you have less time, funds, support, protection, and mental capacity.
- Emotional Woes – No matter who chooses to leave, both parties suffer – admittedly or not. Oh, and all of your couple friends will have to choose sides so there goes half of your loving support.
- Physical Woes – Science has proven that divorced men are more likely to die at an earlier age. Divorced women are more likely to be victims of violent crimes.
- Mental Woes – Worry about bills, and work/life balance are only the tip of the iceberg. Single parenting is tough stuff!
- Spiritual Woes – Guilt, shame, remorse, and fear are bedfellows of divorce. These take a toll on our spirits and dampen our ability to be positive. Divorce is no vacation destination.
Raising Children Does Not Become Any Easier.
Some might counter this with, “Well he doesn’t do anything anyways!” or “She isn’t even a good parent.” But, is that really true? Is he completely absent? Is she negligent? …Does that get better with divorce? Also, unless your spouse is abusive, there is absolutely no chance that your child will be better off without them. Your child needs two happy and whole parents. If those parents cannot be happy and whole together, it is worth seeking counseling, working together, taking a long vacation to reconnect (it will still be a lot cheaper than $15,000 – the cost of the average uncontested divorce).
If you do choose divorce, healthy co-parenting still requires two parents to be in business together – the business of parenting. That is a lot easier to do under the same roof, holding hands, speaking the same language, having the same running rules. Parenting requires communication, sacrifice, keeping prides neatly in check, willingness to admit one’s wrongs, and respect for the other parent. Divorce does not remove your spouse and their opinions, input, or presence from your life.
Divorce Does Not Exempt You.
As mentioned, separation or divorce does not exempt parents from parenting. Parenting takes a lot of collaboration to be able to make balanced, well-rounded decisions. It is nearly impossible for one person to provide the strength, tenderness, humor, consistency, fun, insight, and flexibility needed to raise children. Navigating the challenges of life with children, for children, will always require both of you.
Should you decide on a life apart, you will still need to regularly communicate with one another, celebrate your child’s accomplishments in unison, draw lines in the sand as a team, discipline with a united front, and encourage as a team. You do not get a kitchen pass from parenting with a divorce certificate.
Your Children Will Not Fare Better.
There is a simple truth that might change your general feeling about divorce. This is it, simply put: Your child’s heart carries a security blanket that is comprised of neatly sewn pieces of fabric borrowed from you and your spouse – both of you. Children form their feelings about themselves from wee years based upon how parents feel about each other. They determine who they are, based on who you are. Scary thought, right? We are stewards of their lives. If one parent is removed, your child will feel a part of themselves removed too. Perhaps they will feel like that part of them is wrong or unlovable. In large part, children feel worthless when a parent berates another parent. A child feels torn into pieces when a family explodes into different homes. That part of your child that identifies himself with your spouse will feel expelled, shamed, or rejected.
Neither Will You.
Long term, you will not be better off. Divorce trades a marriage that might be stressful and hard with a different set of stressors and hardships. All of those purported advantages to being single again, quickly dwindle down to you being able to take on life and the hardships that come with it alone.
Here is something that your friends will not likely tell you: You have to work on yourself, be positive, practice gratitude, and work with your spouse to fix a bad marriage. Divorce will not fix a bad marriage and once you have children, it also does not separate you from the person you made those children with. The only thing accomplished by divorce is the removal of the one other person who shares your special set of struggles and victories; the person who understands those unique properties of your family dynamic.
Forget About Being Financially Stable or Secure.
With the exception of those who have “independently wealthy” stamped on their life, life gets financially challenging when that burden is carried by one. The safety net is torn from under you. Even if your spouse does not work, you will still carry a heavier financial burden, because once they are gone, odds are you will still have to support them to some extent. True story.
If you are a spouse who would be due spousal support, you will still have to depend on your former spouse to provide. Generally speaking, your spouse will still not pay you enough to keep up with your previous standard of living. Much less, you are still at the mercy of depending on them. If they were not dependable enough to be married to, this could be increasingly stressful.
If you are the spouse who would be writing the check to support the other spouse, your check will still be going to your spouse. You will still be supporting them. Period.
Nobody wins. Worse yet, the people who pay the most are the children who suddenly have to worry about the stress they cause asking for lunch money or clothes in a size that fits. Their educations are flushed. Their normalcy is gone. There is no financial upside to splitting with your spouse! Isn’t it a better idea to get some counseling, and take a great vacation – just the two of you? Not looking so expensive now, is it?
Often when we get in a rut, or square in the middle of a rough patch in our marriage, we think about divorce. Odds are, if you are reading this, you are not even to a stage where divorce is really a truly legitimate option. Have hope, marriage is not a sprint – it is a marathon. A slump is temporary and will take much less time, effort, resources, and stress to work it out than to saddle up, arm yourself with an attorney, and fight like hell for years.
There are options to look into before the D-word is ever even used. Promise yourself that you will remove the idea completely for one month, breath in hope, know that you are capable of getting so grateful and thankful for the good stuff about your partner, that your marriage is elevated to a better and more manageable place. It is that simple. Get creative. Do different things. Go different places. Go see something new together. Stop talking and start doing.
Photo credit: That Basic Chic, Jacob Coats
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