May 14

The Unanticipated Cost of Divorce



The Wrong Kind Of Help

Divorce does not make you a failure, or a bad or selfish person. It makes you someone who didn’t receive the right kind of help when you needed it most.

Struggling couples often receive marital advice that leads them in the wrong direction. This is because many well-meaning counselors work from an outdated counseling model that has been proven NOT to work, a model that had no basis in research to begin with.

Couples are told to identify their grievances and conflicts and use active listening techniques to process and work through them. These techniques do not work.

Conflict resolution is NOT the place to start when seeking to strengthen or restore a marriage relationship. Rebuilding your friendship is the right first step.

Put Your Conflicts On Hold

A couple needs to agree to set conflicts aside for a period of time in order to focus on reconnecting, renewing their appreciation for each other, getting to know each other on a deeper level, and learning to accept each other’s influence. Only then, can a couple begin to successfully address the issues that are causing conflict in their marriage.

I am not saying that all marriages can be restored, though I wish that were true. What I am saying is that many more relationships can be restored than currently are.

When I meet new people and they ask me what I do, I say, “I help couples build the skills they need for a strong, happy marriage and avoid the habits and behaviors that destroy relationships.”

If the person I’m talking to has been through a divorce, they will generally say, “I wish I had met you years ago,” or “I might still be married today had I met your earlier.”

Count the Cost

It is sad indeed when a couple does not realize how much they gave up until after their divorce is finalized.

They may believe it is the end of pain, but many times it is just the beginning of a different kind of pain that may include:

  • Expensive court battles over finances and custody
  • Your children grieving the loss of a full-time parent
  • Having a stranger, over whom you have no control, help raise your children
  • Deciding how to handle birthdays, graduations, holidays, and even the birth of grandchildren
  • The loss of friends who decide they cannot be involved in your lives without choosing sides
  • Financial hardship as one household becomes two
  • Regret and loneliness

It is true that ongoing hostility in a home is damaging to children. Success in school, friendships, ability to resist bad influences, college, marriage can all be affected. Unfortunately, a hostile marriage tends to lead to a hostile divorce and on-going hostility as the exes continue to interact with each other.

Exchanging One Set Of Problems For Another

There is no such thing as a perfect marriage. Marriages are made up of imperfect people. Every one of us has flaws, and weaknesses. We all make mistakes. We all need grace. We all need to ask for forgiveness and be forgiven.

If you end your marriage and marry again, research shows that you WILL, in fact, end up with a different set of problems.

Sixty-nine percent of all problems across all marriages are unsolvable. They are rooted in differences in personality, core values or lifestyle preferences. The key is to learn to live with these problems in such a way that they do not drain the love out of your relationship.

If you are thinking about divorce, or know someone who is, I hope that this article gives you a fresh perspective and encourages you to get the right kind of help.

About the author 

Susan Silvers

Susan’s approach to building excellent marriages is research and evidence-based. Her speaking, workshops, and marriage coaching draw on more than forty years of marriage research that have scientifically proven what it really takes to build a thriving marriage.

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