On your wedding day, I bet the furthest thought from your mind was “What happens if this marriage doesn’t work out?”
As time goes by things change. You find that you’re not in the same place as you were when you got married. Things have happened in your marriage. You don’t communicate the same way you used to. Perhaps your partner hasn’t been faithful.
What do you do? Do you consider divorce?
If you’re like most Americans, you do. Divorces are common these days. In fact, half of our marriages end in divorce now. What happens when you get divorced?
Quite a bit, actually. First of all, one of you needs to find a new place to live. Second of all, if you have children, you must create a plan for when the children will be with each parent. Does one parent get full custody with visitation for the other? Is custody shared? Holidays, vacations, they all have to be planned out ahead of time and put into a calendar.
Next, you have to split up everything you own. Remember all the flatware and dinner plates you received as wedding gifts? Well, your sixteen piece service just became an eight piece service. Your spouse got the vacuum cleaner, you kept the stereo, your spouse got the Christmas tree, and the list goes on.
Oh yeah, almost forgot. One you may be paying child support, alimony or both. 401k’s and other investments get divided up. Perhaps other properties or expensive belongings you have must be sold. Hope you weren’t attached to anything.
Finally, you have to have some sort of legal proceeding involving attorneys, mediators and a judge to do the final divorce decree. I’ve never known anything involving the word “legal” to be cheap.
Now those were all the things involving money. Really the money is just a small part of it. Divorce’s biggest impact is on people, especially children. Picture in your mind that conversation when you sit the children down and tell them that Mommy and Daddy don’t love each other the way they used to and one of them won’t be living here anymore. The children, who may be too young to fully grasp the concept of divorce, are now being shuttled back and forth between two homes every few days. They need clothes and toys for Mommy’s house and Daddy’s house. They need to get used to the fact that their bed at Mommy’s is more comfortable, but Daddy has better TV.
The kids at school may say things and look at them differently. They probably need to start seeing counselors to work through a lot of their questions and feelings about what has happened. What if your ex starts to say things about you, that aren’t very nice, to your children? What if you start dating again and your ex says means things to them about your new “friend”?
Your parents are effected too. Now they may need to become more involved in child care or assisting you financially. Your parents also have to deal with issues they have about the divorce. “What did I do wrong? Did I put too much pressure on my child to get married? Did I alienate their spouse or cause some kind of friction? Am I the reason they split up?”
These are all very deep issues and I hope you never have to tackle them in your lifetime. But half of you will and the numbers get worse every day. There are resources available to you that can help you start repairing your marriage immediately. You may not want to acknowledge your marital difficulties to your pastor, friends, or even a licensed marriage counselor. If you don’t, there are things you can do, on your own and right now, to stop hurting and start saving your marriage.
First, sit down and talk with your spouse. Be honest about your feelings. Now is not the time to hold back.
Second, invest in a good book. There are great resources available that can give you practical tips to start using today. These techniques work, even if only one of you is committed to working on them.
Third, get your family involved. Maybe they can take the children for a couple days while you start working things out with your spouse. Maybe a sibling or another relative has gone through the same thing but never really talked about it. The information they provide could help more than you expected.
Just remember, you have options and you have resources. You can decide right here and now to stop the damage, stop the pain, and stop the slow decline of your marriage. If you do something, you may be able to recapture the love and remember why you got married in the first place. If you do nothing, your marriage will fail and many of those things we talked about above we start to become a reality.