As I was writing about a marriage issue for iMOM, I stumbled upon a question a lot of women were asking online — should I get a divorce? Before you answer that question, and before we give you our answer, we want to lay out some things for you to consider.
We also realize that if you’re considering divorce, you must feel pretty unhappy in your marriage. In other words, we empathize with you and want you to know we really do understand — just because we work at iMOM doesn’t mean we’re perfect mothers in perfect marriages.
So, if you’re asking yourself whether you should get a divorce, here are some things to consider.
The Children Factor
If you have children, the answer to “should I get a divorce?” is no, most of the time. I read a great explanation for why divorce is so hard on children. Its author is the screenwriter (Sleepless in Seattle), Nora Ephron. She speaks from experience. She and her children’s father divorced after she found out he was having an affair.
If you have children, the answer to “should I get a divorce?” is no, most of the time.
“I can’t think of anything good about divorce as far as the children are concerned,” Ephron writes. “You can’t kid yourself about that, although many people do. They say things like, ‘It’s better for children not to grow up with their parents in an unhappy marriage.’ But unless the parents are beating each other up, or abusing the children, kids are better off if their parents are together.”
She continues, “Children are much too young to shuttle between houses. They’re too young to handle the idea that the two people they love most in the world don’t love each other anymore, if they ever did. They’re too young to understand that all the wishful thinking in the world won’t bring their parents back together. And the newfangled rigmarole of joint custody doesn’t do anything to ease the cold reality: in order to see one parent, the divorced child must walk out on the other.”
My own husband has been very unkind. At times, he has made me feel miserable about myself and the life I’d hoped for. But I will never initiate a divorce if our marriage remains as it is — without physical abuse and without infidelity. I can’t do that to my children. If I were to tear apart my marriage, it would tear down my children.
And research shows that for many bad marriages, things usually gets better. In my own marriage, even after our horrible fights, once the dust settles, I am glad I am married to my husband. It does take an attitude adjustment on my part, but I know that keeping our family together is the right thing to do for me. This article about your “just okay” marriage being good enough for your kids is great inspiration if you’re in a marriage rough patch.
The Unfaithfulness Factor
This comes with caveats. If your husband has an affair, you don’t have to get a divorce. In fact, if you have children (see point one above), you should do whatever you can to keep your marriage together. You want to be able to look your kids in the eye and tell them that you did everything you could do to save your marriage and keep their home intact.
If your husband has been unfaithful, don’t make a decision about divorce in the heat of the moment. These four steps will help you walk through the shock and make well-planned choices. And, here’s what one woman did when she found out her husband had cheated.
The Safety Factor
Is your husband a physical threat to you or your children? If he is physically abusing you or your children, get to a safe place. And if he has started to use physical force with you — pushing you, squeezing your arm, etc. — stand up to him. You can say, “I am not going to let you use physical force with me,” and then quickly move away. If your husband chooses to still be physically abusive (after the first incident) then divorce is okay in that situation to protect yourself and children!
Is your husband trying to overcome a serious problem like alcoholism, drug abuse, or a gambling addiction? To determine if you have a real cause for divorce, seek out face-to-face guidance from a trusted friend or clergy member. But be sure to choose your advisor wisely. Here are five places not to get marriage advice.
And, finally, if you’re thinking about divorce because you think you married “the wrong person” — take a look at this article from the New York Times aptly titled, Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person. It’s a hopeful article.
What would you say to someone considering divorce?