Why Divorce Isn't an Option

When things aren't going great in your marriage, do you or your spouse ever threaten to leave? Do you ever use the "D" word? If divorce is something on your mind when you are negotiating a marriage rescue, there are going to be times when it seems as though the finality of divorce is preferable to the pain you are experiencing right now.

It's tempting to glorify divorce to some extent in so far as putting an end to the fighting, the upset, the sleepless nights, and the cyclical tit-for-tat pattern of your negative interactions.

Some people liken their marriage crisis to a big open wound. Gruesome image, I know, but the point made here is that it's open, visible, painful, is never far from your mind, and is going to take a lot of time, care, and attention to get it to heal.

There are no shortcuts when it comes to saving a marriage, and if you are at the beginning of this process and little progress has been made, it's going to be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's not something that will heal overnight. It may take weeks, stretch into months, or even take years before things seem normal again, if ever.

By comparison, a divorce can be seen to deliver peace and finality to your marriage angst and stress in a relatively short period of time. Shift out, file papers, wait a while, divorce finalized.

In some circumstances, the time between filing the petition to decree absolute can be from 4 to 6 months. Obviously it depends on a number of factors, and contesting a divorce pushes the timeframe out much longer, but for many couples it can still seem like a more immediate and attractive option than the uncertainty of counseling, therapy, and discussion of who did what, and why, and how to move forward.

Is that why a divorce seems so tempting?

People tell themselves that a divorce is going to end the pain sooner and bring you closer to a resolution where you can get on with your life. But at what cost?

The cost of divorce is something that is almost always overlooked before the decision is made. A study by Lenore Weitzman in her book "The Divorce Revolution" cites that a man's standard of living decreases an average 42 percent, while a woman's standard of living decreases a staggering 73 percent in the first year after divorce!

The reduction in standard of living can have far-reaching consequences, especially where children are involved, and can lead to being forced to live in sub-standard housing, less healthy dietary options due to lack of income, and diminished income for recreation and leisure. Gone is the assumption that you can live the same life you had on your own, and the stress of managing a life on a significantly reduced living standard can add to the pressure of what is already a difficult time.

Can you afford to keep your car, or do you need to sell it and buy something cheaper? What sort of house can you afford to live in? Do you have to shift neighborhoods, away from your friends so you can afford the rent or mortgage? Can you afford to keep your children in the same schools? What impact is this upheaval having on them?

Marriages in trouble seem unfair enough to children, but a reduction of living standards associated with divorce seems especially unfair when there is no money available for recreation and leisure activities. Like it says in many reports and books, the first casualties of divorce are children.

So let's put it another way, if you knew your standard of living was going to be reduced as much as that, would you still make the decision to go ahead and divorce? Many couples spoken to afer divorce said they would have given their marriages another chance if they realized that divorce was going to have such a lasting socio-economic impact on their lives.

So the reduction in income is a significant factor in divorce. So is the high cost of petitioning and processing a divorce. Lawyers charge an increasing amount per hour ever year, and if asset separations or divorces themselves are contested, it's an easy way to let your legal bills spiral.

I know of a number of couples that I have spoken to in consultations that after several years of arguing through lawyers and courtrooms, had little left in the way of assets to separate! In their quest to get what they believed they deserved, the bulk of their settlement went towards paying protracted legal fees.

If you have children, it gets even more complicated. Child custody, deciding who lives where and when, dividing children's things between homes, managing your own life as well as childrens' sports practises and other interests, all of this takes on a new significance when you are facing it without the support of your spouse.

Do you have to buy separate clothes for your children when they are with you, or do the clothes and shoes go between houses?

All of a sudden the appeal of divorce is starting to lose its gloss.

Next comes your friends. When a divorce happens, friends are torn between the two of you and feel obligated to take sides. They may choose your spouse instead of you, which can come as a shock. The friends you once had seem a little more distant.

Friends that you thought would stick by you no longer call or drop by, and have increasingly busy lives that no longer include you. That's because you no longer have as much in common. You are single, where your friends are all married and have spouses. They aren't about to let you too close to their spouses, as you can be seen as a threat now that you no longer have a man or woman in your life.

When you choose to divorce, you lose much more than your spouse and your old way of life. In choosing to divorce, you also lose many of your friends.

Next comes the dating scene. All of a sudden you are single again, and facing the scene with frightened and wary new eyes. Everything that seemed familar to you five or ten years ago when you were dating, all of a sudden seems different.

For a start, you are five or ten years older, and the men your age have either moved on from the bars you used to go to, or the ones left aren't the ones you are interested in. Where are all the attractive, available men your age? It's back to the dating drawing board and relearning how to make it as a single man or woman, only this time with baggage.

Considering the high social and economic impact of divorce, doesn't it seem right that you should give your marriage your best shot?

You can't change the past, or how you and your spouse are feeling about the relationship at the present, but you can change your future. You don't have to be a divorce statistic. You can change your destiny if you want to.

It all starts with making a commitment to each other and your marriage, and taking divorce off the table as an option.

Relearning Love After a Conflict

Conflict is an inevitable part of any relationship. After all, in a room with two people there would also be two different perspectives, two sets of beliefs, two different expectations and motivations.

It is not so much the fact that you and your partner will have conflicting opinions and points of view from time to time but your attitude towards this conflict that could spell the difference between having a marriage fraught with tension or a relationship you can continue to trust in spite of disagreements.

There was a movie released back in the late 80's starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner titled "The War of the Roses". It was a dark comedy about how a couple's marriage grew steadily worse due to conflict - in their case, a bitter fight about material possessions.

In the end, their relationship had deteriorated to such violent proportions that their pride, anger and one-upmanship against each other resulted in them fighting themselves to death.

Again, the film was meant to be a comedy but it was a classic example of how two people in a marriage could not sit down and work through their differences. Of course, it is no laughing matter in real life when husband and wife find themselves stuck in constant bickering and feuding.

First and foremost, understand yourself and how you deal with conflict. What makes you react the way you do? Is it too much or too little expectation? Is it simply a lack of control over your emotions?

At the same time, as you try to understand yourself, take a look at conflict from your spouse's point of view.

What causes him or her to react the way he or she does?

Is it simply a matter of being overwhelmed by the daily grind?

Could it be that she feels left alone by you?

Both of you must realize that these reactions come from SOMEWHERE. Possibly from your childhood or ingrained from patterns your parents exhibited.

Once you understand, then you will be able to anticipate and control your reactions. The maxim "Look before you leap" has never been truer than in situations of conflict.

Secondly, do you realize that there are numerous techniques available to you to deal with and resolve conflict?

Rather than resort to escalating blame, shaming and voice raising, you and your spouse can actually sit down and negotiate and mutually come to an agreement. The insights brought on by your mutual introspection above come into play here.

How then do you use what you have come to understand about the situation and about how your partner reacts to work out with your partner a proactive plan of action?

Choosing to be proactive means that you and your partner will always try to actively look for a positive outcome to your conflict situation.

It means that somewhere along the road, you can both sit down again and reevaluate whether what you have put in place still actually works and benefits you both or whether it's time to change your approach.

For more tools and suggestions on how to deal with conflict, we cover this in a section of the Save My Marriage Today! course.

There, you will discover powerful secrets on how to keep your marriage intact through crisis after crisis. The book also shares with you insights and tools about how to recover the love in your relationship even after a conflict situation.

Get your conflict insights here.

Yes, it's possible for a couple to bounce back and rekindle the love and trust they have for each other even if your relationship has been approaching "The War of the Roses" proportions.

The way to do this is not far from the preparatory techniques we have shared previously. Communication, negotiation and focusing on a positive outcome are still key elements. But, in a touchy situation where a rift of anger or tension has driven a couple apart, several key factors also come into play.

First, getting your emotions under control. More often than not, anger comes into play during times of conflict. There's just something about this or that situation that riles us up.

Well, if one truly wants to make a marriage work even after a crisis situation, dealing with that anger is paramount. While anger is an emotion that tells you that you feel strongly about something, what you do with that anger is infinitely more important.

Will you react negatively or positively? Which is better, lashing out at your spouse or transforming your intense emotions into a desire to make things better?

Second, forgiveness. One would think that the couple is called to forgive each other right after a conflict situation. Sure, that's encouraged but we realize that sometimes, forgiveness takes a while. That's ok.

A crisis situation may not require instant fixing but more a cooling off time where each partner can gather their wits about them. More than being called to forgive each other right away, however, each one is also called to forgive themselves.

Acknowledging how each one hurt the other - from a position of accountability rather than blame enables each partner to take responsibility for their marriage and opens up the possibility of coming to understand why the conflict happened and moving on from there.

Taking this position of humility could, in fact, actually make forgiving each other more real and sincere.

Love is a doing word

If you want love back in your marriage even after a conflict situation, you must be first to give it. Love to be loved. Act how you feel and how you want your marriage to turn out.

It is not even a matter of waiting for your partner to make the effort. It begins with you! This is the secret.

Do some acts of loving everyday. They don't have to be grand or spectacular. They just have to be simple and sincere.

If there's anything we would like you to remember to rebuild love in your struggling marriage, it's this: Become loving to be lovable and you may soon see your marriage moving from "The War of the Roses" to coming up roses.