When The Last Option Is Divorce
My husband and I have always believed that divorce is NOT the answer to our problems. We work out our problems and we have certainly had our share.
I am concerned that our girls may have the wrong impression when we talk about divorce NOT being an option, because it is always an option! There are deal breakers! In some cases, divorce is needed. No one should live in and put their children in abusive situations.
A Matter of Hard Work
Divorce is NOT an option for us, because we have committed to working on our marriage no matter what. In fact, when needed we have sought the help of marriage counseling and we get additional help from our ecclesiastical leaders.
Making the decision to not divorce has given us the proper motivation to work hard at having a good, strong marriage. Saying divorce isn’t an option does not give you a blank check to treat you spouse badly. In fact, just the opposite is true! In doing so, you are committing yourselves to a lot of hard work, compromising, improving yourself and your communication. It takes team work.
You can’t take the stance that because you aren’t going to get divorced, you don’t have to work hard because he/she will never leave you. It is a huge mistake to think that anything goes because you have agreed that divorce isn’t an option! You are signing up for a lifetime of hard and rewarding work!
Work It Out
Divorce isn’t the thing you go to first, second or even third. You try to work it out and that is all this means. Really trying to work together and work it out! Ending a marriage is the last resort, after trying everything else!
*Having kids to try and smooth out your marriage is not the answer. In fact, it makes it more complicated. If kids aren’t in the picture or you already have one or two, having a baby won’t fix the problems! Work things out before increasing your family size, whenever possible.
- Communicate with one another- discuss what changes need to be made, are your needs being met, what do you need, what can you do, what can you work on together?
- Talk to you ecclesiastical leader about your marriage and difficulties
- Marriage counseling
Worrying about divorce is a good thing
If you are someone who doesn’t want to get divorced and tries really hard to have a good stable marriage then worrying about divorce is a good thing. Now, I’m not talking about excessive worrying or being worried constantly that it is on the horizon. I mean worrying that if you don’t keep your end of the marriage agreement, then it could end.
Sometimes worry helps to keep us in line.
*This means you keep trying and you do things to make one another happy. Temptations and problems are everywhere which is why it is essential to continue to date your spouse after marriage. Check out my posts on Marriage Rules and Making Your Marriage a Sweet Love Story. It is also easy to take those whom you love for granted – make sure you continue to show appreciation for one another.
The Marriage Agreement
Everyone’s marriage agreement is different. There are some basic things that are pretty universal:
- You agree to be with one person, your spouse, for the rest of your life.
- Working together – building a home together
- Often overlooked, you agree that your spouse’s needs and the needs of your family are greater than your own
However, everyone’s marriage differs in how you go about creating your marriage and what you find to be acceptable. With most of the rules (except for those above) they can be fairly flexible. Things change and needs change. Communication is the best asset you have in sustaining a good relationship and marriage.
Other marriage agreements
Who works? Both or does one stay home with the kids and who?
Some couples are fine with boys/girls nights out – how often this happens is the couples decision.
How much money each person gets to spend on their hobbies and recreation? Young newly weds often have less money to work with and so they will usually curb their hobbies within the budget and give things up until they can afford to do them again.
People will treat you the way you allow them to treat you
If you are okay with everything then nothing will ever be off limits – that works great for the other person but you will become their doormat! It’s important to discuss what behaviors are acceptable what ones are not. Whenever possible, discuss things before there is a lot of emotion and hurt feelings. What ones can you compromise on?
If you don’t like your spouse going out every night with the boys/girls then you need to let them know that this behavior is unacceptable
- What is acceptable? One night? Week night? Week end? Once a month?
If they spend money like a drunken sailor while you are scrimping, you need to discuss this and not let the behavior continue!
- What are they spending too much on? How much can they spend? Allowance? Budget discussions? What can be compromised?
If he/she is always making plans and not including you; this only stops when you let them know it is unacceptable.
- Is it okay for your spouse to go on vacations without you? Making plans without you, even if you are included, is this something you want and need to be included in? Talk about! Getting angry without discussing doesn’t lead to change.
There has to be compromise in any worthwhile relationship.
How you want to be treated
Have honest conversations about how you want to be treated. Here are a few topics:
The next step would be to talk about what these things mean to you:
- Being treated with honesty means. . . for example: Telling me what you really think and not what you think I want to hear. Or. . . Not hiding bills, or credit cards, telling me how you really feel.
- Feeling like you trust me. . . for example: You don’t have to tell me everything I need to do, but trust I will do what needs to be done. Or. . .Trust that I will be responsible. . . Trust me with your feelings, without any games. Of course, trust has many aspects and is something earned and lost between couples and has to be worked on. Honesty is essential when it comes to trust!
- Feeling respected. . . Don’t walk all over my feelings, even if you think they are stupid or I am over reacting. They are my feelings and I can’t help the way I am feeling. Don’t blow me off or put me down when I express myself. (Sometimes it is really hard to open up.) Don’t treat me like a child, your servant or like I am stupid.
- Valued. . . My opinion needs to matter more to you than anyone else’s does. Don’t talk bad about me to your friends and family. Good communication leads to feeling valued.
These are different for everyone and some of the things can be worked on. However, if one person in the marriage is unwilling to work on things the other one will be unhappy (making marriage miserable for both of you) and it will eventually come to an end. People can only put up with so much for so long.
- Selfishness– This is one that can be worked on if both parties are willing to work on being more selfless. Too often, selfish people want the other person to do all the selflessness and this will eventually end in disaster
- Selfishness is where one person puts their wants and needs above everyone and everything else. They buy stuff just because they want it, regardless of the budget or what else is needed. They make decisions unilaterally because their opinion is the only one that matters. They do things based on what they want and rarely think about the needs of others including their spouse and children. It is a very narcissistic trait. Eventually, everyone gets tired of feeling like a door mat!
- Selfishness is the opposite of compromise. Placing no value on the wants, needs and feelings of others.
- Selfishness sometimes will give the appearance of trying in order to get their way. Which is a form of deception and manipulation.
- Selfishness is the root of most problems.
- Deceptiveness– Not being honest with feelings, actions, etc. leads to a lack of trust and respect in a marriage. It depends on what, how much and how long a person decides to put up with this kind of behavior. Eventually, deceptiveness will also lead to a marriage’s end.
- Lack of Respect and Validation- You would have to have very little self esteem to stay with someone who didn’t respect you. This is soul killing behavior that should NOT be tolerated. Hopefully this is realized before getting married, but that doesn’t always happen.
- Manipulative and Controlling Behavior– This is another form of abuse, but rarely seen as abuse. This goes back to selfish behavior, getting your way through manipulation or through controlling means is not okay. Your spouse will soon feel like they aren’t valued, they don’t matter to you and may even feel like a prisoner. This is NOT OKAY!
- Lack of Responsibility- I put this on the husband, mostly, because I believe he is to be the main provider, in most cases (Of course, it depends on what your marriage agreement is and the communication you have gone through in adjusting it as needed.) The families temporal needs, need to be taken care of: housing, clothes, food, health insurance, transportation, etc. If these aren’t being met then changes have to happen. If one is spending money and always breaking the budget (goes back to selfishness) then the lack of responsibility leads to a marriage falling apart. (I can’t live in an environment that feels chaotic and uncertain.) *Spouses need to be careful that they aren’t accusing the other of overspending on necessities! Look at the budget together, know what is reasonable, budget reasonable amounts for necessities and stick to it! Marriage counseling and working on this can save a marriage, but if both parties aren’t willing it can and does lead to the end of marriages.
- Spiritual- The spiritual side of my spouse is of utmost importance. I don’t take our religion lightly. If our marriage came down to religious differences, then more than likely, the cause would actually be more of a result of infidelity.
Our marriage agreement includes that we grow together spiritually. Of course, there is a lot of lei way here. There have been times when he is far more spiritual than me and vice versa. Religious differences alone wouldn’t be enough, but would be coupled with many of the other issues on the list. This is perhaps the last straw in this list of negatives that would have to be piling up.
- Affairs- Fidelity is one of the agreements you made when you agreed to get married. Some people can work on this, for me it is a huge deal breaker. I have a lot of trust issues and don’t think I could ever trust my spouse again, after an affair.
- Abuse– physical, emotional, mental, sexual, etc. any kind of abuse will eventually end a marriage. There are a lot of things I won’t put up with because if they do it to you, they will certainly do it to your children. If by some miracle they don’t, watching abuse is just as harmful as being abused! (So, they may not be abusive to the children, at least from what you can see, but it will always affect them!) Don’t fool yourself and think they don’t know, they always know. ABUSE IS NEVER OKAY, IN ANY FORM!
Divorce is not an option
It isn’t an option when agreements are kept, when compromises are made, when communication is done properly and problems are worked on and worked out, together.
However, not all situations are perfect. Not all situations can or should be worked out. The ending of a marriage has to be approached with care and prayer.
So, yes, sometimes divorce is an option and sometimes it is necessary, but it isn’t the first option, it is the last option.