When I endeavored to write something bright and positive on a subject as dark as divorce, I thought about some of the most common reasons that people give for staying in bad marriages. Reasons like, they would be breaking a covenant with God, the negative impact on the kids and finances, and being lonely and possibly never marrying again. There are more, but after a while they all start sounding like excuses to stay in a bad situation; more out of fear and comfort than out of any real belief that it would be pleasing to God, best for the kids and financially or emotionally profitable. To illustrate and support my beliefs, I offer my own personal defenses and also provocative quotes from writers who have found eloquent words to convey the smart, brave and responsible reasons for choosing happiness.
I’m breaking covenant with the person God sent to me: God didn’t put most people together. Most people put themselves together with a person they were drawn to based on superficial things like physical attraction, financial security, and biological clocks ticking out of control. If it was deeper than that – for example, love and companionship, it was still most likely guided by your own personal feelings and not some spiritual experience. Having a wedding in a church does not make it a spiritual union. I’m a Christian, but when I married my husband at age 26, I didn’t dare ask God’s opinion for fear he would discourage me. I loved my fiancée with all my heart and did what I wanted to do at the time. Well, we’re divorced now. Turns out, we were husband and wife, but not friends. As difficult as it was, I was brave enough to choose happiness for myself and we divorced. By doing that, I gave myself the chance to be in a relationship today with a man who is my best friend and confidante; something I never knew was possible.
“What we wait around a lifetime for with one person, we can find in a moment with someone else.”
― Stephanie Klein, Straight Up and Dirty: A Memoir
The kids will suffer: They might; but not nearly as much as they will as a result of spending their childhood in a home filled with negative energy. It is very important for children to see their parents lovingly interact with each other. Not only does it teach them what to expect and seek in their own intimate relationships later, but it also fosters a sense of security. Children who grow up in homes where there is constant tension, fighting or just obvious distance between their parents, are always on edge; always mindful that at any moment, all hell could break loose and it could all be over. So you’re not doing your kids a favor by subjecting them to you and your spouse’s dysfunction. You may think you are being selfless and making an honorable sacrifice, but staying in a bad marriage for this reason is actually selfish. Children are very resilient. If you and your spouse act maturely and responsibly and separate in such a way that puts them first, they will be fine. Children are better off in a one parent peaceful environment than in a hostile one with two parents.
“Divorce isn’t such a tragedy. A tragedy’s staying in an unhappy marriage, teaching your children the wrong things about love. Nobody ever died of divorce.”
― Jennifer Weiner, Fly Away Home
My finances will suffer: As miserable as it is to be in a broken relationship, it’s hard for me to believe that anyone would worry about finances more than getting to a point of peace. But if this is a concern, I can only offer that happiness and optimism breed productivity and success. The negative energy that is present in bad relationships can drain your energy and enthusiasm, making it impossible to focus on going to the next level professionally. Without even realizing it, your self-esteem plummets and the confidence you need to go for a promotion or new job is non-existent. Taking a stand for yourself and your happiness is empowering and makes you feel like you can do anything. If you have that, the sky is the limit.
“The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying…”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love:
I don’t want to go back to being single and lonely: Loneliness sucks, but chances are you were already lonely if your relationship was bad. Couples who don’t want to be together anymore are normally emotionally distant; so much so that you can feel alone even when you’re together. When I was married, there were many times that I felt lonely when my husband was right beside me. I would want to talk but his body language and short, disinterested responses clearly conveyed that he did not. Also, dispel the myth that being single is synonymous with being lonely. Being single is wonderful when you love life and yourself! It’s a magical time when everything can finally revolve around YOU. You can take a trip, change jobs, go back to school or plan a weekend trip with your friends without having to “OK” it with anyone. If you’re choosing to look at it from only the perspective of not having a partner, you’re missing the beauty of it. Besides, the happier, more confident “you” is more likely to attract and keep the attention of a great guy or girl that you’re truly compatible with.
“I remember one desolate Sunday night, wondering: Is this how I´m going to spend the rest of my life? Married to someone who is perpetually distracted and somewhat wistful, as though a marvelous party is going on in the next room, which but for me he could be attending?”
― Suzanne Finnamore, Split: A Memoir of Divorce
Conclusion: I’ll end simply with the following quote:
“Your relationship may be “Breaking Up,” but you won’t be “Breaking Down.” If anything, you’re correcting a mistake that was hurting four people: you and the person you’re with; not to mention the two people who you were destined to meet.”
― D. Ivan Young, Break Up, Don’t Break Down
Choosing happiness….Now that’s Presidential