Not divorcing is not enough

November 28, 2011

in Good Marriage, The "D" word

Unhappy older couple © Zurijeta | Dreamstime.com

31 one years of misery and counting …

I think we have a tendency to divide couples into two groups – those who are married, and those who have divorced. We see the first group as good, and the second as bad. The former we should emulate, latter we should not.

Thing is, some of the folks in the “married” category are neither loving nor caring, are not living marriage as God intended, and most certainly are not an example to be praised or followed. In short, not getting divorced is not enough; it’s setting the bar far too low. It’s like dividing people between “alive and dead” without any differentiation between someone on life support and someone who can run a marathon.

While it is statistically true that a bad marriage is better for kids than a divorce (the exception being when there is abuse), it’s far better for the kids to be in a marriage where mom and dad truly love and care for each other. Kids who see love first hand are more likely to have good marriages, and are less likely to do stupid things sexually and in many other ways.

Let’s set the bar higher, much higher. Being married 25 years is not impressive if the couple has been angry and/or miserable most of that time. I can honour them for sticking it out, but how much better to have worked through things so they have a good marriage.

I hear “divorce is not an option” and I’m all for that, but let’s go the next step to “staying broken and miserable is not an option”. A goal of not divorcing does nothing for a marriage other than maybe keeping it going; a goal of making the marriage better ends any reason for divorce.

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6 comments
Judy
Judy

My belief that marriage is a covenant and not just a contract has been my mantra since Day One. I'm married to a womanizer, serial cheater and liar. I've endured infidelity too many times to count, and those are just the affairs I know about. Oh, the years and years of falsehoods and charades. I should have known what I was getting myself into when on our first dates he'd belittle me and ignore me for other women, but I was anxious to get married and be taken care - I came from a home where you had to ask permission to even have a bath/shower, and I was looking forward to making a happier life. He had no respect for me then, and despite the lip-service I get from him, I know he has no respect for me now especially since he knows for certain I'm a doormat and will put up with anything and everything. It’s always just a matter of time. I’ve watched my husband twice abuse a compensation system so that he can stay home for years (I don’t have to work, why should he) and make money that we won’t claim for taxing purposes. I’ve witnessed him counsel to others about the benefit of lying and he’s a thief. I no longer expect treatment to the exception. My point is this, I know him for what he is. I look in his eyes and I know all the lies. I don’t have anywhere else to go and I have to make the best of it. I’m looking forward to when we both won’t need medication to make it through the day, but until then I have my faith. I don’t know what I’d do without my faith – somedays that’s all I’ve got to get me through, and then just barely. I’m not asking for advice because I realize I enjoy/endure the martyrdom of unhappy, but holy matrimony, but I just wanted the others who are suffering to know there are some who walk in their shoes and know the pain. “Love doesn’t hold a grudge. When we’ve blown it with each other, a worldly kind of love would say, Move on. Don't admit you messed up. But God's love says, Go make it right.” Nobody said how long it will take.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@Tony _ You are right, but I fear for some not divorcing is the beginning and the end of the thinking. What I am proposing is a step beyond that - but still includes it.

Tony
Tony

Of course that's a starting point right? You have to "not divorce" in order to have a good marriage. It's impossible to have that good marriage if someone chooses divorce. One cannot work on making the marriage better if their wife is bent on ending the marriage. So not divorcing may not be enough, but it is a critical step. A critical step that is often taken away from one spouse by the choice of the other.

J (Hot, Holy & Humorous)
J (Hot, Holy & Humorous)

I agree completely! I hate the statement that someone will stay in the marriage for the sake of the kids. If it's that bad, the thing to do for the kids is to make the marriage better. Commit to working on the relationship any way you can. Great post!

Sheila Gregoire
Sheila Gregoire

So true! Being committed to a marriage means being committed to intimacy and oneness. So many people say, "I'm staying here through thick and thin, even if I have to make everybody miserable in the process." That's not real commitment! Sheila from To Love, Honor and Vacuum!

Victoria
Victoria

Awesome post! My parents have been married and miserable for 39 years. I am so glad they have stayed married, but I do not want their marriage. My husband and I have decided that getting help when needed is the way to go, and divorce is not an option. That being said he and I have been through alcoholism and recovery, infidelity, infertility, deployment, healing from sexual abuse, 7 moves with the military and another one coming up in a month, and cancer. We have had mostly amazing times even through all that, but it is really hard to not go back to the things we witnessed as children especially when we visit. It is an incredible ride.

Trackbacks

  1. […] her post Julie mentions Paul Byerly’s post Not Divorcing is Not Enough. Paul makes an excellent point, should the goal be to just stay married [and miserable], or should […]

  2. […] Byerly touches on this extraordinarily well in his recent post "Not Divorcing is Not Enough." He throws down the gauntlet and asks, "Being married 25 years is not impressive if the couple has […]

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