Is Divorce A Better Option Than Staying Unhappily Married?

From the desk of Zina Arinze5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a woman of faith, my starting point will always be that “God hates Divorce” and all the feelings of guilt, shame, self blame, regret, the sadness that go with it whenever I allow them to seep through. Thankfully, this happens very rarely now as the years have gone by.

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I also admit that it is so devastating and hard to look across the table at someone that had been your partner for years and hear them say they want a divorce because they don’t love you anymore, or that you have grown apart or you are incompatible or that they are leaving you for another or that the marriage was based on deception or 1001 other reasons. There is just no easy way to hear that your marriage is over and often we feel that if we know “why” then we can fix it. I know that it was like that for me, but it was too late by this point and my “wasband” had rationalised it so it made sense to him. I didn’t really get an explanation in my case, however even if you did, chances are that hearing their explanation often just leads to more questions.

For me, many years on, I now understand that God allowed my divorce to happen because God always gives each and every one of us free will to choose our actions, good or bad.

However, whatever your faith may or may not be, getting divorced will involve a rollercoaster ride of emotions i.e denial, shock, shame, guilt, sadness, anger, grief, bitterness, resentment, low self-esteem, stress, insecurity, helplessness, hopelessness, loneliness, confusion, feeling stuck, etc. This will diminish over time.

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This means that as painful as it is right now, you need to accept that your divorce is the death of your marriage, the death of an important part of your life as you have known it. Your expectations for what was going to be “till death do us part” are now gone. The person that you loved is now gone. Is it any wonder that going through divorce is such a sad and debilitating experience?

My first go at marriage, however has not dampened my great love for this wonderful and ageless institution and although I know “Happily ever after” mostly happens in fairy tales, which are all fragments of an author’s imagination, couples do find true love, the reality is that they often miss the happy-ever-after part. This is why, at some point in a couple’s marriage, problems arise and one or both parties want out. Whether it was you or your ex who decided to end your marriage, the end of a marriage can be devastating, traumatic, frightening and tough. It’s difficult to let go of the past and to let go of your ex.

Most people don’t want to fail at their marriage, so like me, you keep trying, even if the odds were stacked up against you, and that is fine. If there is still hope that your marriage can be saved, I strongly urge you and your spouse to spend more time and do whatever it takes to preserve.

That being said sometimes, the marriage is really dead; maybe you have gone through the legal divorce process – and yet you have refused to let it go.

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As painful as it maybe, you need to accept that your divorce is the death of your marriage, the death of the part of your life as you have known it. Your expectations for what was going to be “till death do us part” are now gone. The person that you loved is now gone.

However, is divorce the best course of action when there are children involved?

In 2012, divorces in England and Wales increased by 0.5% compared to the figures in 2011. Per thousand of the married population, 10.8 files for a peaceful divorce. This resulted in a society where affected children are highly likely to engage in all sorts of bad behaviour. 1 in 5 young people failed their exams when their parents divorced. 14% started drinking alcohol, while 13% experiment with drugs. In addition to self-harm, some 28% also changed their eating habits, resulting in eating disorders.

In the wake of these events, one or both parents express regret over their decision to file for a divorce, particularly mothers. I have had clients and mentees who wished they just stayed married for the sake of their children even in cases of gross physical, mental and emotional damage. In most cases, especially in an abusive household, staying married can have an even worse effect than divorce. What is the point of staying together when there is no love, but intense pain and violence? Also staying together in a volatile, agressive and explosive home for the sake of the children can cause among other things, long lasting damage especially in the area of self esteem. 

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This in itself, often leads to an even deeper negative, traumatic and long standing affect on the child in a variety of ways:

1. Increased stress levels

Children can sense the strain and animosity between their parents, which causes more stress. When mum and dad argue at every turn, the more upsetting the situation becomes. They would probably end up wishing their parents separate sooner than later, so that some semblance of peace in the home is achieved.

2. Disillusionment

Couples who separate only after the children have gone to college are not doing anyone any favour, according to research. This is because the children would feel like their lives before the divorce have all been a farce, especially when they were led to believe that everything is all right when it is not. Some of them would even think that they are the cause of their parents’ unhappy marriage.

3. Miserable home

Children are very intuitive and they can sense that something is wrong. It becomes even more obvious when parents sleep in separate bedrooms, and when the overall atmosphere at home is depressing, strained and unhappy. This often pushes older children to move out as a way to escape the stifling environment at home.

4. Emotional damage

Children аrе also uѕuаllу sensitive аnd thеrеfоrе more susceptible tо emotional damage, thаn thе adults аrе. Granted, thеir parents аrе lіkеlу to bе stressed оut bу thеir marital problems especially where an abusive situation exists and this could mean that they are preoccupied and no longer showing their child affection, attention and support once displayed. What typically occurs is that the child/children begin to express thеѕе difficulties in a variety of ways. With the abuse, this causes disruptions in thе family routine combined with а sense of powerlessness which could cause the child/children to:

a) Demonstrate anger, directed both toward others аnd thеmѕеlvеѕ

b) Refuse tо acknowledge responsibility

c) Experience bouts of depression, grief and guilt

d) Frequently break rules, display destructive behaviour and have problems with defiance

e) Be isolated оr withdrawn frоm friends аnd family

f) Harbour thoughts оf suicide оr violence.

g) A younger child mау take tо bedwetting аnd suffer frоm sleep disruption

As you can see, staying married for the sake of the children, even if the tenets of your faith expressly prohibit divorce, is not always the better alternative, especially where abuse is prevalent. Staying together in a clearly untenable environment also increases the risk of either parent blaming their children for their “sacrificial” miserable life, because they are the reason that they stayed on even through pain with gritted teeth. 

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Stepping out of the comfort zone of marriage is very difficult, even where the marriage may have been abusive, the comfort of the known and predictable is better than the fear of the unknown. Tackling this fear of unknown is very important.

According to experts and in my own experience, it is best to file for a divorce earlier or when the children are still young. The sooner everyone comes to terms with their situation, the sooner they can move on. As for mothers who suddenly become a single parent, know that you are not alone. Despite all that has happened, you can believe and live again after divorce.

I can help you get past the heartache and regain that self-esteem that you have lost, and if you are at the cross roads in an abusive situation, confused as to your next step, I strongly urge you to get yourself and your children out fast, out of the violent environment for the safety of your dear life and that of your children.

If you would like an informal chat  regarding the issues I have raised

Get in touch with me today on +44 208 9383672  (24 hours service) or www.infobelieve@believeandliveagain.com for a confidential complimentary Believe and Live Again Coaching Discovery session.

 

In the mean time, keep strong, keep smiling and keep believing

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