Why do half of all marriages end in divorce? There aren't any simple answers to this question, but the factors which contribute to marital breakups include...
- Unrealistic expectations: expecting your spouse to supply the kind of unconditional love and support you wanted from your parents is unrealistic and leads to disappointment.
- Miscommunication: differing communication styles are often at the root of marital problems: he shows his feelings through actions, she uses words; he says things once, she repeats her message for emphasis.
- Fighting dirty: couples who attack each other rather than the issue, often hurt one another too badly to reconcile.
- Romantic illusions: ignoring the faults of a potential mate can lead to marrying your own romantic creation rather than a real person.
- Parental marriage patterns: although we may want a very different marriage from the one are parents had, we often unconsciously follow their example in choosing mate with whom we can duplicate their relationship.
- Power struggles: unresolved adolescent battles with parents for independence and control are often repeated in marriage-usually with the same results.
- Lack of other options: having tried everything else to improve their marriage, unhappy couples may erroneously conclude that the divorce is the only option left.
Stages of the divorce
There are predictable psychological stages in any divorce. The pre-divorce decision period is characterized by escalating marital dissatisfaction, often felt more acutely by one partner than other. Marital intimacy declines and the couple may fight openly, consult with lawyers or live apart. This is followed by...
- The decision period, which is marked by a firm decision to divorce, resulting in a sense of relief or even exhilaration. Cycles of reconciliation and fighting follow, as the partners alternate between the enhanced marital intimacy based on their fears of being alone and emotional distance fueled by their continuing conflicts.
- Final acceptance begins when the couple recognizes that inevitability of divorce: with it may come are renewed anger, expressed to fights over settlement terms.
- A period of morning follows acceptance, characterized by sense of failure, loneliness, depression and low self-esteem. There are phases of guilt and self reproach over the breakup, and then realistic sadness, as a couple recalls the positive aspects of their marriage, but acknowledges the wisdom of ending it.
- Re-equilibrium begins as when animosity toward the former spouse disappears. New friendships are formed and new interests pursued: the divorcee adjusts to life as a single person.
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