Anna was divorced in the early 2000s. After 15 years of marriage, her husband discovered her infidelity and came to her with what she saw at the time was his firm decision. He wanted a divorce. There was no discussion. There was no counselling. There was just the attorney who prepared the papers and a cursory division of property. Her guilt let him take control, and years later she wished they had learned to talk during their marriage and especially before it all ended. At first, she thought divorce was freeing, but in the end, it was a personal, social, and financial disaster.
Joan had another situation. She and her husband had been deeply in love, at least at the beginning, but passion gradually diminished over the years and their interests in each other and their interests in what they did as a couple became nonexistent. They always knew divorce was an option and it seemed the best choice at the time. They divorced and neither one now seems to be any happier.
In her book, The Case Against Divorce, published in 1990 but still relevant today, Diane Medved, Ph.D., takes a bold stance on the outcome of divorce and outlines some of the major arguments against divorce. Her take is that anyone considering divorce needs to think it through and not just consider what seems right for now, but what life could and will likely be down the road.
Divorce should not be an easy decision. It is life changing personally, socially, financially, even professionally, and if there is any hope, anything to hold on to that can be rebuilt, a real effort should be made even if “getting out and moving on” seems more appealing than the vows you took and the life you now have.
Medved draws four major arguments against divorce:
1. Divorce hurts you
Some of the consequences include the frequent anger and resentment that may linger for years and deeply affect your life including emotional scars that may never go away. Then, there is the likelihood you will experience a lower standard of living, diminished social interaction and issues with self esteem following separation and divorce that can be very hard to restore.
2. Divorce hurts those around you
Divorce hurts your children, your family and friends who are often forced to take sides.
3. Being single again isn’t necessarily going to be the good life
Finding that ideal partner might likely turn into an impossibility or yet another failed relationship.
4. Staying married and working on your marital issues could be your best choice
You may want to work on your marriage instead of disrupting your life and starting all over. Unless there are issues that are points of no return such as abuse and neglect, there is likely something to hold on to and build on.
Yet, how can there be hope for a marriage where there are issues that might include poor communication, loss of love, no mutual interests, constant arguing or fighting, even infidelity?
A starting point is to go back to the beginning and ask yourself what it was that first attracted you to your spouse and how you felt in the beginning. Make a list of your spouse’s good qualities and why you admire these. Also, make a list of the good aspects of your marriage in the past and present. (Your partner should do the same.) It just might be that by remembering the good in the past and what still is good, you have something to build on. Start thinking of your marriage in positive terms rather than negative.
When was the last time you talked (or argued) about anything other than the kids, bills, or household chores? Make it a point to talk about more meaningful topics — feelings, interests, concerns, dreams. Tell your spouse that you would like to have a good talk and find a time and place (without distractions) to do so. Then repeat. Show and take real interest in your partner’s thoughts as your partner hopefully will in yours. It won’t be easy, but, it’s worth the effort.
Start doing things together like a dinner date with each other, a nightly walk, church or a shared project. Even volunteer together. Get involved with each other’s hobbies and activities. Surprise each other with notes or a small gift. Create a bucket list together. Be creative.
Think about other ways you can connect with each other. The reason you have drifted apart is likely because you gradually forgot what is important in a healthy relationship — showing and receiving love, respect, admiration, and having a vision for the future together.
If divorce is a real possibility, counseling with a licensed therapist, a trusted pastor, or a divorce coach could be of help. An objective third party (other than family and friends) is always beneficial whether you choose to seek their advice individually or as a couple.
Remember that no one leaves a marriage unscathed — there are always scars and consequences in divorce. If there is anything you think of that you can hold on to, then you need to try to make your marriage work. Give it everything you can. You and your spouse have an opportunity to rebuild, restore, and even make your marriage more than it has ever been, and if that happens, you will have accomplished something major — you made it work even when it seemed an impossibility.