One of the common themes in the conversations I have had with divorcees, is that many of them felt they stayed too long, in very unhappy or dysfunctional marriages. Once a divorcee finds peace with their decision to divorce, and has been through the healing process, it will often become clearer to them, that the reason they stayed in these miserable unions was FEAR! Fear comes in many forms, some of which are highlighted below-
1. Fear of failure-we live in a society who for many generations have used the phrase “failed marriage” as a euphemism for divorce. To love someone marry them, have children raise a family is never a failure, if done with good intentions. We all grow, we all change and we have to shift this negative stigma from divorce, it does nothing but bring more sadness to all involved. Divorce is simply two people who can’t find a way to be happy together choosing to be happy apart, obviously it is not with out fall out, but it is not a failure just a life event like any other that non of us want but that happens.
2. Fear of not finding anyone better-the average length of a first marriages is 8.9 years in USA, we spend our time in these unions, thinking we really did at least at first feel, we picked the best person for us. A decade later we are afraid that this person, with all their flaws, combined with ours may really be the best they can do. We sink into the feeling that we are unhappy, but we mistakenly think this unhappiness may be the best it ever will be even with someone else. This kind of thought is all based on fear, not reality.
3. Fear that what your partner says about you is true-unfortunately many people in unhappy marriages are in unions with negative critical or even perhaps narcissistic people who over time, will do immense damage to someones psyche. If you have been emotionally abused put down, or gas lighted, you could possible fall into the mind set. You may start to believe that , phases from your spouse such as “No one else would put up with you”. ‘You really aren’t aging well”. “Everything you do is wrong” could be true. The good news is almost certainly these phrases are designed to keep you in a bad relationship, and to garnish control over you and are far from true. Fear that they could be true, can be overcome with, huge doses of self love, and disengagement from the negative people in your life.
4. Fear for your children-this fear is probably the only one that is truly justified, not all states have 50/50 custody laws as yet, although an additional 25 states are in the process of passing this law. Before entering into any divorce process, you really do need to weigh up the pros and cons of divorce. The court system will try to protect each parent, but only up to a point(always bad judges though too to consider). You may also though want to educate your self though on the damaging effects of staying in dysfunctional marriages for the sake of the children. It is beginning to be documented that arguing, fighting discord in marriages is in fact more detrimental to children than peaceful divorce.
5. Fear of what others will think- excuse my french- but screw that, unless someone else, is living your life, paying your bills and is immediately effected by your divorce as in your children, why would anyone possibly give any one else’s opinion a second thought. One of the first things I tell all divorcees, is you owe no one an explanation, the only two humans who really will ever know what that marriage was like wise the two people in it. It is no one else’s business, one of the healthiest things any human can do is learn to care very little about others opinions of them.
6. Fear of financial consequences-Yes divorce will in most cases make you financially worse off, at least initially, but you can never and should never put a price on happiness. Money can be remade, there is a peace that also comes with living a more simple life with happiness as your focus.
7. Fear of your partners behavior- this is a hot topic in its self, a spouse who is prone to dramatic, or crazy behaviors, will in all likelihood escalate this behavior when going through a divorce. Stay safe, make sure, you do things with kindness, and try to defuse situation or not engage where possible. Staying in a marriage just because you are afraid of your spouse, is not acceptable, there are many services therapists who can help guide you out of these relationships safely.
8. Fear of change- change is never easy, we as humans are not great at it. When any of lives curve balls are thrown at us we have a hard time navigating our way out of the feeling of change being always negative, I too was like this during my divorce My Dreams Recycled chronicles my way out of this kind of fear into acceptance, that change when embraced can indeed be a positive not fearful situation.
9. Fear of being alone- alone is all relative, most likely you have friends, family, work colleagues, children, it actually is fun to be alone. To experience new things, meet new people, etc. Once you learn to love your own company, you have a lot less chance of settling for fear next time around.
10. Fear that you are unlovable-we all deserve love, we all at times though, feel unlovable, maybe we feel inadequate in a part of our life, whether financially, physically sexually etc. May be feel that if our spouse now couldn’t love us no one else will. Love is an interesting phenomena, it manifests its self in our lives in good bad and sometimes bizarre ways. The best way to feel lovable is to start with yourself, practice daily positive affirmations, speak kindly to yourself about yourself in thought, remove negative people from your life and focus on building a life you love. Oddly when you have mastered this love will always find you- we attract what we are, so never allow fear to keep you from this.
I do not advocate divorce as a be all and end all, or a quick fix. Divorce often takes one set of issues and replaces them with another set as a single person. What I do know though is fear in all aspects of life is a negative emotion, nothing good will ever come from it.We only have a life span of approximately 77 years on this earth, so why not choose happy, alone or within your marriage, because living a life of misery no one deserves.