No one goes into marriage thinking that they’ll get divorced (unless they are a gold-digger) and yet, so many of us end up divorced. Something quite unthinkable 60 years ago is commonplace today. We truly have a disposable society, from the toasters we get as wedding gifts to the weddings themselves.
Why do marriages fail? There are countless reasons, including some excellent ones, but I think at we need to look at the media and entertainment and ourselves.
I grew up with fairy tales and the “happily ever after.” No one told me that marriage was hard…really hard at times. I thought that once I’d ticked the box: “married” that the work was done, but that is where it starts. Add kids to the mix and you’ll fall more in love with your partner at first, then come to dislike your partner, and eventually settle on being just roommates, that is unless you put the work in… everyday.
Without both people doing the work, you’ll likely end up divorced. Sure, you get to join a new club, but here’s some info that should be on the membership brochure, along with the photo of the not so green grass on the other side.
Let’s start with the financial cost of divorce. Say goodbye to your early retirement plans and your vacation fund, not to mention your quality of life. Splitting your assets in two sucks, so does alimony and child support. You want to go to the camp/cottage this weekend? Too bad, you lost that in the divorce.
Quality of life is also an issue, above and beyond the assets. I know people who divorced because their spouse didn’t do their fair share of the household chores, only to wake up and realize that now they have to do it all in their new life.
It’s easy to focus on the bad, but what about all the good that you’ll be losing? Those special meals that they prepared for you, the way they picked up your socks and tossed them in the hamper without complaining (or at least not that you could hear), the back scratches, taking care of the house, nurturing the kids, doing the yard work … all gone. Suddenly the snoring or their annoying chatter may not seem like the last straw?
Then there are the family costs, where you lose full access to your children. Add to that the social cost of the friends you lose as you find out they too were actually part of what got divided in the split. Say goodbye to not only certain social networks, activities, and favourite restaurants, but also certain professional networks.
On top of that, there is the fact that once you break your vows, the question then becomes, what is your word worth going forward? This has been one of the hardest hits of my life. Sadly, I can only move forward from past mistakes and hope to not make them again, but I can’t refute the fact that mistakes were made in the past.
All that said, I’m also not suggesting that “staying for the kids” is the answer either. Kids don’t deserve to be raised in a loveless or one-sided marriage. Kids deserve to see a loving, healthy relationship, one that has natural ups and downs, so that even when the fairy tales don’t teach them that marriage involves work, that they will have seen it growing up.
Divorce is appropriate in many instances, but there is something to be said for watering the grass where you are before looking at greener pastures. You don’t want to be on the other side of a relationship with a lot of “if only I’d …” statements lingering, especially if you are an over thinker.
So, don’t throw out the toaster unless you’ve tried to fix it, and had a specialist try too. Make sure it is truly broken.
For those of you who join the club, remember that past mistakes are just that, and that you deserve the security and unconditional love of a new relationship, where you can look forward to sharing a lifetime of love and petty squabbles…but be prepared to water the grass.