3 Things to Consider Before Divorce: An Overview In a new series, Lynne focuses on the consequences a divorce can bring. BY LYNNE Z. GOLD-BIKIN
Before you tear apart your family, consider these consequences.
"…And they lived happily after." How many times in our young lives did we hear that? The handsome prince gallops in on his white horse, rescues the beautiful maiden and they ride off together into the sunset. Fade to black…
Contrary to what we learned as children, that is not the end of the story, rather the beginning. That is where the real work begins because good marriages don’t just happen; they take planning, compromise and understanding. After a few years of children, financial problems and family intervention, the perfect marriage may turn into the perfect storm. But, that’s not a reason to give up on the marriage, but a reason to confront the issues and see if they can’t be worked out. If the couple thinks, "Whatever it takes, we’re going to make this marriage work," there’s a real chance that it will.
There are really six reasons that—by themselves or combined with each other—cause people to divorce. The first five can make divorce unavoidable:
1. Physical abuse in a relationship is not something an abused partner has to live with.
2. Emotional abuse (which, by the way, often turns into physical abuse) is another relationship stressor.
3. Alcohol or drug abuse by one or both of the partners is not something that leads to a good marriage.
4. If one or both partners are cheating on the other, marriages rarely work.
5. If there is a partner who recognizes that he or she is gay or lesbian, that can lead to the end of a marriage.
But the final and biggest reason couples divorce is the one that does not have to lead to divorce: when couples grow apart. This is the one cause of divorce that is fixable. Couples who find themselves in this situation need to examine the toll a divorce takes—the emotional, psychological, financial costs, impact on the children and readjustment to single life after years of marriage—before they call a lawyer. Upcoming columns in this series will offer an in depth look at each of these: The five things you need to think about before you divorce.
Let’s take a quick look at these downsides to divorce: Emotional costs. Things like rejection, failure in the relationship, regret, anger and sadness. These are just a few of the emotions for those actually going through dissolution of the marriage. Couples considering divorce find themselves wondering, "How did it come to this? What, if anything, can we do now? Is it worth it to go through this or can we recapture what we had and resume the life we planned?"
Psychological costs. The stress of constant litigation, the change of lifestyle, selling the house you made a home and losing time with the children are just some of the psychological costs of a divorce.
Financial costs. Lawyers cost money. In cases that involve houses, pensions and businesses, there are accounting fees and costs for hiring experts and conducting appraisals. If there is a fight over the children, the court may order a psychological evaluation that adds to the bill. You’ve worked all your adult life to accumulate assets and now they’re going to the divorce and then split into two households. Shouldn’t you think twice before you take this step?
Impact on children. Not much needs to be said here, but it's safe to say no child wants to come from a divorced family.
Finally, readjusting to single life after being married for a long time can be difficult. Being a single parent, returning to the "meat market" of dating again, or feeling sorry for yourself and swearing off men (or women) forever are some of the few things that may happen to you.
In next month's continuation of this series I will discuss these downsides to divorce in depth.