A recent study of attitudes towards divorce found that as many as 30% of US adults believe divorce is unacceptable under any circumstances. But why is this? And why do so many couples prefer staying in unhappy marriages?
There are many reasons why people decide to stay together even though they’re dissatisfied with their current relationship or marriage, from financial reasons to religious pressures and even just a fear of what life would be like without their significant other. However, people overlook the fact that there are negative consequences of staying in an unhappy marriage.
To discover the most common reasons why so many of us decide to stay in an unhappy marriage or in relationships that don’t make us happy, I consulted attorney Arthur D. Ettinger, who has a wealth of experience in providing counsel to those thinking about getting divorced.
7 reasons why unhappy couples stay married & how to break the cycle
My research, combined with Arthur’s accounts of his clients’ experiences, found that the 7 most common reasons why people prefer staying in unhappy marriage are as follows:
1. For the kids
“A common claim for why people will stay in an unhappy marriage is that they are staying together for the children,” says attorney Arthur D. Ettinger. “A common misconception is that the children will be better off if the two unhappy spouses stay together.
While it is certainly true that divorce will affect children, it is a complete myth that children will be immune from their parents’ unhealthy and unhappy marriage”.
Another common fear of getting divorced or ending a relationship is hurting your significant other. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2018 found that frequently, people are motivated to stay in relatively unfulfilling relationships for the sake of their romantic partner rather than putting their interests first.
This can make things difficult, drawing out the process even further.
Watch this video to get a clearer idea about hurting others and post betrayal syndrome.
3. Religious beliefs
“A spouse might opt staying in an unhappy marriage if they believe there is a stigma in the idea of marriage or refuse to recognize the concept of divorce for religious purposes,” says Arthur. “While the divorce rate is approximately 55%, many people still refuse to accept the idea of divorce no matter how unhappy they may feel in marriage.
“Over the years, I have represented clients who, notwithstanding having been physically and emotionally abused by their spouses for decades, have fought to stay married for religious and cultural reasons.
In one instance, my client literally had a stack of photographs showing various bruises over the years and yet was pleading with me to help her contest her husband’s complaint for divorce as she could not accept the religious ramifications”.
4. Fear of judgment
As well as possible religious ramifications, those thinking about getting a divorce can often be worried about what their friends and families may think. A recent study found that 30% of US adults think divorce is unacceptable, no matter the reason.
While a further 37% say, divorce is only okay under certain circumstances. As a result, it’s pretty understandable that many of those thinking about getting a divorce experience fear of judgment and criticism from those around us.
5. Financial reasons
Given the average cost of a divorce is around $11,300, the reality is – divorce is expensive. “Putting the costs of the process aside, which can be very costly, in many cases the parties’ lifestyle and standard of living will be affected as the family’s income will now be required to bear the costs of two homes instead of one” explains Arthur.
“Also, in many instances, a spouse who has given up their career may be required to re-enter the workforce. This can create significant fears that will cause someone to grin and bear the unhappy relationship.”
Those who’ve been in a relationship for quite a long time say they can sometimes feel unsure of how to ‘be’ when they’re not in the relationship. That’s because a marriage or long-term relationship such as this can often play an integral role in our sense of who we are.
Being a girlfriend, wife, husband, boyfriend, or partner is a massive part of our identities. When we’re no longer in a relationship or marriage, we can sometimes feel lost and unsure of ourselves. This can be a pretty daunting feeling that appears to contribute to many peoples’ reasoning behind staying with their current partner, despite their discontent.
Lastly, one of the biggest and possibly most daunting reasons why so many unhappily married couples stay together is because of a fear of what might happen, how they’ll feel, or how things will be if they take the plunge and opt for a divorce. It’s not just the divorce process that’s a daunting prospect, but the time afterwards.
‘Will I ever find someone else?’, ‘How will I cope on my own?’, ‘Isn’t it better to just stick with the status quo?’… These are all widespread thoughts for those who are contemplating a divorce.
What should I do if I’m in this situation?
If any of these reasons resonate with you – know you’re not alone. Whilst every marriage is different, many couples share similar experiences, leaving them feeling uncertain about their future and worried about the prospect of divorce. Getting out of a daunting relationship is far better than staying in an unhappy marriage.
Divorce doesn’t have to be a daunting or stressful process. There’s so much accessible information out there, alongside people who can provide judgment-free support, advice, and help, whether that’s friends, family members, relationship counselors, divorce lawyers, or dedicated and reliable information sources on the topic of divorce and separation.
Taking that first step and asking for help or confiding in a close friend or family member can make all the difference in setting you on the path to a happier and brighter future.
You need to identify if you are unhappy in marriage. Do you feel suffocated in your marriage? Do you advocate that you are unhappily married? There are so many factors that need evaluation when it comes to marriage, but if you are looking for reasons to stay in your marriage, there is something definitely off.
Talk to your partner or go to therapy. Even if you want to get out of it, you should take some consultation, but you need to take charge and ensure that you are not staying unhappily married.
I'm the co-founder of Advokatsmart, a matchmaking platform which helps individuals to find the perfect lawyer for them. After graduating from my master's degree in Industrial Economics and Technology Management and spending over 5 Read more years working as a management consultant for the Boston Consulting Group, I decided to shift my focus on providing a service which helps individuals to navigate a wealth of legal issues, from work related advice to separation and divorce.
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