Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Not Get Divorced

12 comments

1. It’s expensive. It costs thousands of dollars to retain an attorney to wrangle with your spouse’s attorney to figure out how to divide up the tons of debt that contributed to the demise of the marriage.

2. Single parenting. It is much harder than parenting with a partner. No down time. No logistics-splitting. No chore-sharing. On the other hand, if you were already experiencing this while the ex- was sitting around the house, you will feel MUCH better doing them without resentment.

3. Absent kids. Conversely, when the kids go off with the now ex-partner, you will miss them terribly. And you will realize that this person you had to excise from your life because he was an irresponsible fool is now in charge of your precious babies. And he’s taking them to a LAKE to ride on dangerous watercraft! There are probably sharks in that lake! And hundreds of drunken boaters! And no lifeguards!

4. No shared memory bank. Of course, if your ex-partner had no recollection of most of your time together, that’s really no loss. But it’s sad not to have anyone to whom you can say, “Remember when MOS-32 had croup?” or “Remember when MYS-27 insisted on drawing only in black and white, and refused to use colored markers?”

5. Tainted life cycle events. Bad enough that your parasitic ex- comes to your son’s bar mitzvah and sits there like a guest (which he was, since he contributed nothing to the festivities). He will also come to your children’s weddings and to your grandchildren’s birthday parties. There is no avoiding this, short of a convenient bout of the plague (his) or a selfish move to Florida (also his, one can only hope).

I’m trying to make light of it, but of course, it is especially traumatic for the children. No child wants their parents to split up, no matter how much they fight. I remember my parents fighting a lot, and crying in fear that they would divorce (they didn’t). It’s almost 17 years since my ex and I parted ways (divorcing 2 years after that), and I still feel terrible about hurting my children. This wasn’t supposed to happen! I didn’t plan it this way!

I actually waited too long, but that is because I wanted to be 100% sure there was no possible solution. It’s hard to say exactly what was the last straw, partially because I’ve repressed it, but I do recall thinking that this self-destructive individual was going to drag us all down with him into a place where we couldn’t recover. I had to save the kids and I couldn’t continue to rescue their dad if I was going to be available for them.

As the years go by, of course, the painful moments recede and I have often questioned my decision, but thankfully I have people around me to remind me how bad it was (constant lying, trouble with the IRS, police calling the house and terrorizing my son, sheriffs serving us with lawsuits, garnishing of MY wages, more lying, three mortgages, bankruptcy, foreclosure, and did I mention the lying?).

No one can know what the future will bring, or what effects time and life crises will have on a person you met in your twenties. I should have heeded the demographic differences between us, but that’s too facile. It wasn’t just those obvious factors. It was more like the old commercial for Scott toilet tissue: two rolls that look alike at the start, but when you unroll them, it turns out one runs out long before the other one does. The real fatal flaw was the difference in capacity between my ex-husband and myself, by which I mean resilience, the ability to understand consequences, the ability to learn and grow from the lessons life brings us, and the ability to feel deep love and devotion. When he started to put his own selfish interests before those of the kids, and indulged his need to avoid conflict and his refusal to make himself the least bit uncomfortable in order to make their lives better, it was time to make a change.

I perseverated over this through not one but 4 separate therapists (2 individual therapists, 2 marriage counselors) for way too many years until I was able to take action. What finally did it was the cataclysmic realization that the choice I wanted WAS JUST NOT AVAILABLE TO ME. I was never going to have a relatively happy marriage with two functioning partners, at least not with this guy. After 18 years, it was getting worse and worse, and as they say in court, the marriage had broken down irretrievably (I always picture a large dog sniffing around in the woods looking for wedding bands when I hear that phrase).

That realization – that what I was trying to hold out for was not on the menu – was a very freeing one. Once I figured it out, it was a “D’oh!” moment – as in, how could I not have seen it? But I have learned that “process” – the act of going THROUGH something for as long as it takes until you get to where you need to go – cannot be circumvented or avoided. I see this in every aspect of life, and it influences everything – whether people are invested and happy in their work, whether families will stay close as the years go by, whether children learn good values.

So out of heartbreak and loss came some good life lessons. I was lucky to get out safely and legally, and to save my kids from more pain. But I don’t recommend it.

 

12 comments on “Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Not Get Divorced”

  1. I agree with most of DM’s comments – the main idea being that divorce will not ruin children’s lives, but may save them. I wrote a response earlier but deleted, tried to write another and have been thinking about this blog since I read it this morning. I think what bothered me is the title. I don’t think it’s accurate, given the following points that you made. I think a more appropriate title would be “Top 5 Reasons You Should Be SUPER Selective in Who You Marry…and Decide to Have Children With.”

    1. I completely agree with this! I wouldn’t try to talk people out of getting divorced…that can be detrimental depending on the circumstances. Instead, I’d invite them to pay attention to the red flags before marriage. Most of us have them….I did. And to choose your partner wisely. Find someone who is kind hearted and be kind hearted towards them.

    2. Hey Anon, I am thrilled my piece made you think. That’s always the goal! I didn’t mean this as an indictment of people who divorce — after all, I AM ONE OF THEM! I just wanted people to realize divorce isn’t such an easy solution to their problems with their partner.

      As for being super-selective: I got married at age 25. My values were different than they were 15 years later. Who knew?

    3. I know this post is rather old, but the situation is brand new to me. I wouldn’t change any of it. I think Randi writes about her experience as she knows it. And I think that we would all like to think that we were selective and didn’t just marry the first fool we met. I dated the most incredible man I have ever met for 6 years before choosing to marry…and when life got tough he got going. No way to see that coming no matter how selective. There’s no way to know how life will change someone. Now I’m here with an autistic toddler and a newborn and the man of my dreams – who wanted 10 kids is gone!!! He realized it was hard. Now I’m thinking geez, I should have known, but that won’t change the past, or help me right now. What will help me is what Rando had to say. Should I fight for my marriage and risk living decades of crazyness or should I continue with divorce knowing that divorce will also greatly affect my kids dramatically anyway. I don’t know, but I do know that I married for better or worse – not for best guy on the market. For all I know he’s got a brain tumor and went nuts! Being more selective than I was would not have helped me diagnose his future mid-life crisis crazyness! Sorry – I’m just really passionate about this issue, and I do believe these are good reasons to seriously contemplate divorce because there’s nothing you can do about your selection process years down the road. People change and for many reasons: genetics, illness, stress, finances, children (reality really kicks in…), lack of sleep, diet, obesity, medications…. someone you meet in college and marry in your mid 20s, is not the same person their 30s. Someone you thought could handle stress because they studied well and have a great career can turn out to crack under pressure at the sight of an infant. Until it happens how can you know? Are their interview questions for this?! How can one be “more selective?” I don’t know but thinking about that won’t help anyone – it will drive a young couple crazy to start quizzing their mate…and it will drive a person like me crazy to keep thinking if there was any signs of this. Truth is, I did do a good job (if I do say so myself) – my guy is handsome, thoughtful, generous, interesting, intelligent, great father, great career, hardworking, sexy, fun-loving, creative, artsy, spiritual – he is everything I wanted and one day out of the blue he found all that to be boring and changed. He is miserable and in denial. He will probably regret the choices he’s making, but he did choose right and so did I when we found each other. When people decide to divorce it doesn’t necessarily mean they chose the wrong mate. And in this disposable society, when we aren’t happy with something or simply ready for something updated we call the divorce lawyer because it’s time for a change. But nice packaging is just that. Nice colors, bold letters…at the end of the day – a man is a man, and a woman is a woman. If we all had priorities, a strong moral code, true commitment and a live to serve and live others above ourselves – all marriages would be good. They would still be hard, but good and worth saving. The fruots of marriage are to oo precious to risk damaging simply for our own individual personal happiness, pride and ego.

      1. JB, I found your passionate response very moving. I feel so bad for you — you and your spouse are in such a tough situation, one that requires TWO grownups. I hope you try counseling with a REALLY GOOD marriage counselor — hard to find, but it’s ok to leave a bad one — so your husband can go through his own process of realizing that being a man means dealing with the tough stuff that NO ONE chooses but life sometimes delivers. Why do some people feel they have a choice to opt out? I don’t understand that. They are his kids too. My ex-husband didn’t express discontent or walk out. He just shut down: he opted out mentally and went into a walking coma, letting his business fail without any thought for what was going to happen next. I still don’t understand it.
        The challenge is how to find out whether someone will cope with the tough stuff, and there is no pre-test for that. Plus we make decisions based on where WE are at the moment of choosing to marry. My mother married my father because he was kind to her family members, which was very important to her. They were totally incompatible in most other ways, but she prioritized that one thing. I don’t think she was wrong to do that, because there is NO ONE who brings the ideal set of qualities to a marriage. You have to use your best judgment at the time and hope for the best. Plus, lust and attraction comes into play and airbrushes lots of warning signs away.
        At some point, you will know what to do either way. This is not about looking for the next great thing or seeking your own happiness — it’s about your children’s survival. I will be thinking of you, hoping things work out for the best, whatever that ends up being.

  2. Randi… not all people is divorcing from people without money, and taht is a fool that will put kids in danger. I think you have problems with the money… ¿memory BANK?… come on woman… people divorce not only for money and not all men are a danger for their children-

    1. Oh, I totally agree, Amelia. The money problems resulted from other problems, such as lying. I could have dealt with money problems (and did so for 18 years!), but it was the escalating of the dangerous predicaments that made me decide it had to end.
      And of course all men are not a danger for their kids — I was going for the sardonic tone, to try to convince people that divorce doesn’t end their relationship with the father of their children. Maybe that wasn’t clear.

  3. Trust me, not all kids are hurt by divorce. My parents divorced when I was 4 and I was thrilled! They fought every day and it got to the point that we couldn’t even play a simple game of Monopoly as a family without World War 3 breaking out. My life is better because my parents got divorced in a timely manner. I learned that I mattered. I learned that I deserved happiness and that my whole family did as well. I learned that I deserved to grow up in a peaceful household and to feel safe.

    My husband and his sister on the other hand grew up in the same type of household. Fighting every day….ugly accusations and ugly words. His parents stayed together and he suffered from it. Now he doesn’t know what a normal marriage looks like. He is recreating his parent’s marriage in ours because they shushed him as a child….they didn’t talk about their “dirty laundry” in public and they tried to pretend in very public times that they were a nice, classy family though that didn’t last long. I can’t even tell you the number of times that one of my kids’ birthday parties or a holiday gathering was ruined because they couldn’t stop fighting….not even for one special day. But he grew up thinking that his environment was normal. And it has destroyed him. My husband would have been better off if his parents divorced when he was young.

    I’m sorry that your marriage didn’t work out….I’m sorry that mine isn’t either….but I don’t want other readers to think that their divorce will ruin their children’s lives. People in toxic relationships should get out for the good of their children.

    I’m glad that you found peace 🙂 and I agree that the toilet paper analogy was awesome!

    1. This makes me feel better, DM — your awareness of how much better off you were. The benefit of your parents getting divorced is kind of my “D’oh!” moment — yours realized that YOU would be better off out of the toxic environment, but I kept thinking things would get better, until the day I finally realized that was not possible. It was hard to let go of the dream of the intact family.

  4. Randi, what an important post. I know that we all have moments where we think, “What if?” What if things were different? I’m glad that you wrote about how even though it was the right thing to do, it was not an easy choice. I absolutely LOVE this: “It was more like the old commercial for Scott toilet tissue: two rolls that look alike at the start, but when you unroll them, it turns out one runs out long before the other one does.” Sometimes the demise of a marriage is insidious but looking back, you saw it all along.

    1. When you are young and “in love,” you think you can make anything work. I KNEW intellectually that there were lots of warning signs, but that did not stop me. I have two wonderful children and the ex- had something to do with that, so he wasn’t a complete nimrod, but he had serious problems in his past that manifested themselves many years later, when crises made him implode. I used to say, “Oh haha, you’re a ticking time bomb!” I should have known what was likely to happen, but I didn’t want to face it. I wanted to get married to a cute guy who liked me! Simple, right?

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