Surprised? If so, consider further that those who stuck it out reported feeling happy in their marriages five to ten years later. (And no, that doesn’t mean they were “miserable” during the time between — only that they were happy they didn’t give up.)
If you’re feeling unhappy in your marriage and are wondering, “Is an unhappy marriage better than divorce,” consider the list above. Also, consider the gravity of any of the signs as they relate to your marriage.
There are a few situations in which the reasons for unhappiness may warrant a less tolerant decision.
The first should come as no surprise. Abuse in any form is dangerous emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, and potentially physically. It often starts off as verbal and emotional abuse and escalates from there. Safety for every life in the home needs to be the top priority; therefore, specialized professional intervention is warranted in cases of abuse.
The second situation involves addiction. Again, the safety of everyone in the home has to come first. Addiction requires very specialized professional help, and should not be tolerated without it.
Infidelity, as devastating as its consequences are, doesn’t have to be a death sentence to a marriage. And the majority of the time, it’s not. Those marriages that not only survive but thrive after infidelity, do so because the spouses get down in the trenches to rebuild their marriages. They not only rebuild, but they also re-create.
And within that last sentence is perhaps the biggest criteria for determining if your unhappy marriage is salvageable. Have you done the hard work of working to improve yourself and your marriage?
If your heart-of-hearts answer is ‘no,’ then how do you think you will ever be happier somewhere else or with someone else? Marriage is hard work.
Ask any old couple that has been married a veritable lifetime how they did it. How did they get through children, wars, bankruptcies, affairs, boredom, illness, fights, and sadness to wind up inseparable?
Inevitably they will tell you that they led with love, committed with love, fought with love, kept their promises with love. They found happiness in the journey. And they knew that happiness wouldn’t be greater somewhere else.
When asking, “Is an unhappy marriage better than divorce?” it’s imperative that you consider more than just your own feelings and wants. Are there children involved? Would they truly be better off without their parents together? Are you prepared to deal with all the ugly consequences of divorce — co-parenting, divided assets, courts, loss of family and friends?
If your marriage has reached the point of contempt, or is based on domination-submission, abuse or addiction and enabling, perhaps divorce is the healthiest answer.
If, however, there are feelings left unexpressed, good deeds deferred to indifference, and self-improvement left to lack of effort, then you may have your answer.
Is an unhappy marriage better than divorce? Ultimately the decision comes down to your values, expectations, and self-accountability. More often than not, even a slight shift toward prioritizing your spouse and infusing hope into your marriage can make all the difference.
Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce and personal life coach. She helps her clients navigate the challenges of divorce – from the moment it enters their mind as a possible solution for the discontent they feel in their marriage (it’s not always the best answer), through the turmoil of getting divorced, and on through creating a fulfilling life post-divorce. You can learn more about Karen and her work on her website.
Written by Dr. Karen Finn Originally appeared on Dr. KarenFinn.com