By: Audrey Cade
Death. The loss of a child or other loved one. Catastrophic injury or illness. Financial ruin. War. So many bad things can (and will) happen to us over the course of a lifetime. Count among the possibilities: divorce. Divorce (and all of the other terrible possibilities listed) is life changing and unpleasant, but is it the worst thing that could happen?
As with so many things, the answer is all in one’s outlook, and our perspective is framed by our experience, beliefs, attitude, and the reality of how it will affect us.
If we posed this question to a female from ancient times, or even one hundred years ago, the answer would have certainly been “yes!” Until modern times, a woman’s identity and security was intertwined with her marital status; so, the loss of her marriage was also the loss of her social and financial stability. Women had few options outside of marriage, so the big “D” would likely result in a life of begging, laboring in the worst of conditions, or prostitution.
Thankfully, woman have more options and need not necessarily marry to achieve success and stability, and they can steer the course of their own destiny.
Gender and historical factors aside, is a divorce the worst thing that could happen? In all honesty, divorce is always an unfortunate occurrence. Undoubtedly, there are many times when divorce is a necessary evil and serves to free us from a life sentence of misery.
Just about any divorce could be characterized by at least some of the following:
Upheaval of our home, family and social life
Increased conflict over the division of our home, assets, children, and others
Ugly as it is, the question, again, remains…is divorce the worst thing we could face?
Consider these seven things that are even worse than divorce:
1. A loveless marriage. Marriage requires a lot of hard work and effort to flourish. It won’t always be champagne and walks on the beach; but, with care and attention from both partners, we should expect a reasonable level of respect, affection, and happy moments. Of course, there will be disagreements and trying times, but love should always be present. If not, that’s a real problem!
2. Abuse, neglect, and disrespectful treatment. Abuse can take many forms; physical, emotional, sexual, financial, and so on. No one has the right to mistreat us, least of all our spouse! Living under the cloud of disrespectful treatment is more than anyone bargains for “’til death do us part,” and a worse fate than pulling the plug on a bad relationship!
3. The torture of solitude within a relationship. One does not have to be alone to feel alone. In fact, one of the loneliest feelings is being with someone who makes us feel lonely! A spouse should be a lifetime partner to provide companionship, care, and concern. Everyone needs peace, quiet, and “me time;” but, when it gets to the point of feeling invisible, there’s a problem, and it is worse than divorce!
4. The inability to be our best self. When we find ourselves in less than ideal circumstances, it’s hard to live life as the best version of ourselves. Stress, frustration, conflict, and other symptoms of a bad marriage can slowly and painfully eat away at our enthusiasm and motivation until we have none. What’s worse than divorce? The crushing feeling that life will never get any better and we may die unhappy and unfulfilled!
5. Living as someone’s doormat. Marriage is supposed to be a partnership, not an unbalanced arrangement wherein one partner takes and never gives. No one, let alone our spouse, should make us feel used, insignificant, and responsible to do all the dirty work!
6. A mockery of a marriage. If we have a spouse who lies, cheats, and otherwise makes a fool of us and our marriage, it can be a painful and humiliating outcome more torturous than any divorce. In fact, divorce is less painful because it is a temporary predicament similar to ripping off the bandage rather than suffering through one tiny tear after another for life!
7. A one-sided arrangement. Marriage takes two, yet, sometimes it seems as though only one partner is present, invested, or even trying to make it work! If our partner won’t wake up and smell the coffee and make the marriage a priority, it truly sucks- even more than divorce!
It’s hard to believe that anything could be more painful or life-altering than a divorce; but, there are actually many things more devastating and debilitating than divorce.
I would never encourage anyone to divorce instead of working on a marriage that can be saved; but, it is important to note that the pain of divorce is relatively short compared to the torture of a marriage plagued by one (or more) of these problems!
Marriage was intended to be a positive union between spouses, not a license to mistreat or be mistreated for a lifetime! Many of us in bad marriages fear taking the step to free ourselvesbecause we fear that divorce may inflict more pain than what we already know. Have no doubt, divorce will leave its marks, but it will also open new doors and provide a platform from which we can design and control what comes next.
Divorce was designed for a reason! Divorce is not a shameful escape hatch or a quitter’s loophole. Divorce exists because as long as there have been marriages, there have been unhappy ones. The option shouldn’t be abused by couples who become bored or are unwilling to try, but rather a rescue for those who are cursed to circumstances beyond the definition of marriage or what they ever agreed to. Divorce is one of the more unpleasant experiences we can ever go through, but it’s definitely not the worst!