It can be very simple for a listener or even a friend to say out loud “why don’t you just get divorced?”. Unfortunately, there is a lot going on behind that sentence. Do you think it never came across that person’s mind? Let’s think about various scenarios, be it a woman or a man. But to be honest, women face the harsher end of this whip called divorce.
Let’s imagine that a couple had an arranged marriage. They meet for a few months, go out on dates, and believe they can make it work. But after living together, they find out things about each other that they definitely cannot tolerate. Suppose one of them has an alcohol problem or likes to gamble. Maybe even a side habit of visiting strip clubs, brothels, or having affairs outside of marriage. Obviously, the other partner did not know about this before marriage and is therefore stuck in limbo because a divorce would trigger a prenuptial agreement that will cause more harm than good. Even worse if they already have a child together, then the child’s future is at risk alongside custody fights and whatnot. As much as leaving seems to be the right choice, what if one partner is dependent financially on the other? They feel trapped inside a bad marriage and can’t divorce because they need the money to live. “Why not just divorce?” It’s not so simple.
Now let’s imagine a couple that fell in love and married despite not having supportive families. Everything seems to be going fine but when overwhelming responsibilities and pressure keep piling up, their relationship takes a hit. Their romance starts to fade away under the burdens that they carry. They are worried that this is the end of their marriage and that they have lost it. “Why not just get divorced?” But they had a beautiful thing, what if it can still be revived?
You would be surprised to know that this is a quite common issue in straight marriages. People marry for different reasons. Some marry to remove any doubt that they might not be straight; mostly people who come from conservative families/societies. But staying in the closet for too long can brew an unhealthy relationship and, coming out later can cause all sorts of fireworks. “Why not just divorce?” The marriage happened to cover up for the secret in the first place.
Abuse causes damage to everything, marriage included. Marrying an emotionally or physically abused partner can have its challenges. They can start projecting their abuse onto their partner. That can lead to more physical abuse in the marriage or serious mental torture which can lead to all sorts of issues ranging from extreme insecurities, unhealthy obsession, or even homicide in extreme cases. Unfortunately, people with a history of abuse tend to repeat the pattern in their choice of partner and find themselves constantly trapped in that cycle. “Why not just get divorced?” is not an easy feat, it is literally letting go of the abuser which has been a lifetime struggle.
I forgot to mention another character issue where some people just cannot handle normal life. The TV show “YOU” shows how some people just like to create issues or just can’t wait to have that side-something. Even if they married in love, the lust for other people eventually becomes a threat to marriage. It is a form of emotional abuse where someone can get possessive, or obsessive. It is that same toxic cycle.
What will people say about being divorced?
As much as the word family is supposed to mean safety, sometimes it is the complete opposite. Some of us are not lucky to have our families have our back, mainly when it comes to a serious thing like getting divorced. Some family members, as much as they might love you, are more concerned with “What will people say?”. They are willing to sacrifice the happiness of their loved ones just so that they can maintain their public appearances without the buzz of people or weird glances. These family members will try to avoid this at all costs and will emotionally blackmail you into staying in your forever unhappy home. For people who are very attached to their families, it is hard to take a stand or break free in situations like this.
Children can complicate getting divorced too. There are custody hearings, and planned arrangements, who will support the children financially, what if the children have a say in which parent they want to be with. A real headache and very damaging to children. That is why some parents feel guilty and decide to stay in an unhappy marriage thinking it would do good for their kids. However, children would rather see happy parents alone than see toxic parents together. Sometimes, parents project their own selfish desires of spending time with children, or not missing any special moment like the first steps into not getting divorced. Family can really make the answer to a question like why don't you just divorce really complicated.
Sometimes families break a marriage before it even begins. This is usually the case when a young couple that met through their university or early on in their workplace want to get married young. Then the dowry talks come along and astronomical figures are being asked for the bride. The groom can’t possibly afford it so his parents end up paying instead. Suddenly, the marriage turns into an auction and focuses more on who will spend more and not on the actual relationship. Things get ugly rather quickly and both parties say horrible things to the bride and groom. Instead of the bride and groom being in love, they start being toxic to each other. However, invitations are out, and depending on the culture or mindset, they cannot simply just cancel the wedding. Besides, once upon a time before this ugliness hit the love birds, there was mad love, and they cling to that. Just divorcing is not an option.
LGBTQ people suffer in a more horrible way as the whole world or their families wait on them to do some wrong. When it does not work out, they feel scared to share, and their anxiety triples if there is a baby involved.
In certain societies, mainly women in work can get bullied or catcalled if she is divorced. This affects her decision of getting a divorce where she keeps tolerating and being in her unhappy marriage. In government jobs for both men and women, a divorce can affect promotions or ascension to being political leaders. This makes some people even put a charade of a happy marriage where they are basically hating each other, and would love to be completely separated. There are also certain high profile societies or committees where a divorced woman or a remarried woman cannot get in and people keep talking behind their backs which is hard for them to handle. See, getting a divorce is always not so easy.
Let’s not forget the cliché of someone marrying someone for power. He/she marries someone but afterward finds out that their significant other does not really care about them. Instead, they get misbehaved with and face all sorts of fears that keep coming true including violence. But what can they do now? Or, what if he/she does not want to stay in the marriage, but can’t leave because that oh-so-scary powerful partner is threatening them with whatever it may be. They got themselves tangled in all sorts of knots. This divorce would require thoughtful planning and a badass.
Some people stay in unhappy marriages because of their beliefs. Certain religions condemn divorces and make it really hard for a couple to separate. Some religions have it as a core belief that the husband must be satisfied for the woman to achieve her great place in the afterlife. No matter what the reason may be, the woman keeps sticking around tolerating and doing her duties. She forgot the last time she genuinely laughed or felt happy. She watches him come back from his mistress, she does not get any kind words, but what can she do? It is about faith; it is not so hard to shake off.
Be it whatever it may, nothing should make you stay in your marriage except if you truly want to and if you are actually happy in it. Like Joe Goldberg’s counselor said, “kids aren’t handcuffs”, nothing else is. Believe in yourself, take a stand, and dust the unhappy marriage off. I know it is not easy, and it will take time, but I am sure there will be someone by your side through it all. Here’s to not letting others control your life, and breaking free from this age-old question, “What will people say?”. Do you, and you will be happier.