‘Till death do us part. Most people believe when they profess their marriage vows that this is it. The hard part is over; they have found someone to spend the rest of their lives with. The trouble is, of course, that anyone who is or has been married will tell you, their challenging journey has only just begun. All this to say, marriage is difficult! It is for this reason that most recent divorce rates in Canada are around 38% according to Statistics Canada. This means approximately 2 out of 5 marriages will result in divorce, with the average marriage lasting around 14 years. So why do people get divorced, and is it their only option? Let’s first explore what brings people together and then consider what tears them apart.
Why do people get married?
Nowadays, love is the most common reason people cite for why they get married. Maybe the attraction was instant, or perhaps it developed over time, but ultimately, they decided that they love this person and want to spend their lives with them. Other than love, many people marry for the financial/legal benefits and for stability in the home for child-rearing. Another top reason that people marry is because of religious reasons and societal expectations. Typically, people end up marrying for a combination of these reasons, but what tears them apart?
Why do people get divorced?
It may not be surprising that infidelity is a top reason for divorce. That said, it is important to explore the underlying reasons for the infidelity. Why? Because infidelity does not necessarily have to lead to divorce. As many Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) therapists (and couple therapists in general) will tell you, the many ways in which we hurt our partners are often a product of our own attachment wounds. This is not to absolve responsibility for an affair, but rather to explore what areas of the relationship are broken and in need of repair. The truth is, there are many reasons to end a relationship. For some, it is an affair and for others it is due to financial troubles or unresolved trauma. Like any relationship, a marriage requires consistent effort and attention; and perhaps unlike other relationships, a marriage faces unique challenges such as financial hardship and child-bearing or child-rearing issues. So why not just call it quits?
The cost of divorce
Aside from the economical cost (which can range anywhere from $1,600 to $12,000 or more), divorce is an all-around costly endeavour. It is often mentally and emotionally expensive to endure the legal and logistical issues surrounding divorce, which is even more pronounced when there are children involved. It often takes years of work to process the separation and create a new life that works for you and your children. All this is not to say you or your children won’t recover post-divorce, but rather people often feel too overwhelmed or dejected to consider working on their marriage with the help of therapy, despite its potential to help.
How therapy can helpThe truth is, only you know if you are committed to making the changes needed to make your marriage work. Marriage is complicated because we bring to it our entire history of emotional struggles and “baggage” and we are often not aware of this. Oftentimes it isn’t even an issue until new challenges arise for the couple or the individuals in it. Individual and couple therapy can be a valuable tool to help individuals reconnect with themselves and their partners in healthy ways. That said, not all marriages are meant to last. Staying in a toxic and unhealthy marriage is not necessarily better for your children than divorce. Additionally, seeking therapy is not a sign of failure but rather a sign of strength and courage. When seeking therapy, it is important to consider the goals of therapy. Whether it is to find a way back to your partner or to find a way to amicably co-parent; it may provide the guidance you’ve been looking for as you find your way to a healthier you.