Unless there are serious reasons to end your marriage, you might want to work a little harder at maintaining your relationship. In an age when instant gratification is the norm, divorce seems like the quick solution to marital woes. Without any social stigma, religious constraints or financial limitations, it’s all too easy to walk away from a troubled marriage rather than spend the emotional effort to fix it. But there are compelling reasons to try.
Most marital troubles are temporary or minor
Emotions magnify our perception of marital problems, and when we’re in the midst of conflict, all we know is that we need relief. Fast. Divorce offers the illusion of an easy out. But what many young and newly married couples don’t realize is that many seemingly dire relationship problems get remedied over time without having to split.
Crises pass. Conflicts resolve. Marginal discontent can be reversed with communication and effort. It doesn’t seem so at the time. In the past, when divorce was not so accepted, married couples stayed married through the bad times and many of them learned that commitment meant “for better or for worse.” Fortunately, they found that enduring the bad times was worth it because better times often returned.
What you could gain by staying put
But there are good reasons to stay put other than hope for better times. Studies show that divorce often causes even more stress and trouble for unhappy couples. In addition to avoiding more pain, hanging in there can bring you:
Personal growth. Experiencing conflicts with others forces you to face your own demons. We all have shortcomings. We all need others to accept us for who we are, but that means we must be able to offer that same acceptance to others. Being intolerant is not such a great characteristic to hold onto. Neither is being selfish or needing to control the behavior of others. Why does your happiness depend upon what others do and think?
Happier kids. If your marriage is chronically hostile, then the kids could be better off in a more peaceful, emotionally stable home environment but many marriages aren’t in that situation. Your kids will gain much from seeing their parents experience conflict, learn how to resolve them, and continue to love each other despite any differences. Kids observe what loving relationships are all about through their parents’ marriage. What divorcing couples don’t realize is that they’re subconsciously sending a message to their kids: “Look, I will stop loving a person if I don’t like what he or she does/how he behaves/etc.” We offer unconditional love to our kids; why can’t we offer the same unconditional love to our mates? Unconditional love works miracles.
Stronger financial muscle. Unless your spouse is a source of financial problems, staying married will be better for your finances. Divorce is not only expensive, but it forces you to split your assets and lose an income stream.
True love. You might discover that you married your true love after all. Living with your true love does not mean that there won’t be times of disappointment, frustration, or anger. You can love the same person who can hurt you, disappoint you, or otherwise make your life difficult at times. True love is not finding a person with whom you experience only comfort but with whom you can experience true life in all its vast range of emotions and situations.
If you’re questioning whether you should stay or go, allow yourself some time to reflect. No good decision is ever made during an emotionally-charged moment. Let your feelings settle. Try not to wallow in the worries or what ifs. Your happiness does not depend on your mate so pursue your interests and what brings you joy. Focus on living a happy life while you stay in your marriage. And see how you feel after the crisis passes.