WHAT'S GOOD ABOUT DIVORCE?
Divorce gets a bad rap most of the time. But here are nine good things about it.
Divorce gets a bad rap most of the time.
It’s a huge loss; it’s a painful life crisis, sometimes traumatic, and often expensive. Yet as a friend said to me, “What I see now is that it would have been equally devastating had we stayed together.”
Many who have been divorced will attest to the good things about divorce.
Nine good things
As one man told me, “You only have one shot at this life. We tried everything to make the marriage work, but nothing helped. Why spend my short life in an unhappy relationship? When I was finally able to make the decision to leave, it was a relief.”
Another said, “Fortunately, there were no children involved unless you counted the two of us. Even though I was in my late 40s, I had never learned how to be in an intimate relationship, what my needs were, and how to let them be known, nor did my (then) husband know how to identify and express his needs. Because of my divorce, I learned a lot I didn’t know I needed to know!”
As one client said, “I realized I didn’t need to fix him, and couldn’t fix him even if I wanted to.” “A sense of relief to get out of an unfixable situation.”
2. It’s hopeful. Leaving a bad relationship opens the way to a new, healthy relationship. “I had this vision of what I truly wanted, but first, I had to stop and figure out my part in the breakdown of my marriage.” You have the time and opportunity to find and build a successful relationship.
3. You can grow into your true self or reclaim the person you were before the marriage. Couples change as they grow older and sometimes grow apart. Staying in a bad relationship can restrict your growth.
“I am just now discovering who I really am,” said one woman. “My relationship was so confining; I felt like I lost myself in being a couple.”
“My partner almost had me convinced that I was an incompetent loser. I escaped and discovered that he was wrong.”
4. You get stronger. “For those of us who married young, the divorce provided the opportunity to learn that I could survive and thrive on my own.” Another said, “I would never have been able to develop my career if I’d stayed in that miserable marriage.”
A friend told me, “My successful career as a psychotherapist is a direct result of my divorce. Let me explain. My divorce was devastating to me at the time. I felt like a total failure. My world had fallen apart. I had so much anger and under that, hurt, that it colored every aspect of my life. It was all his fault, according to me then. After he left, I went back to school to learn a whole new career as a psychotherapist. It would never have happened had we stayed married. In graduate school and in my own therapy, I learned what had gone wrong and why.”
5. You are independent, free to make decisions for your life that weren’t possible in the marriage. “My role in the marriage was to support my husband. Every trip, every weekend, every activity was dictated by my husband’s need for advancement at work.” “Now I can eat what I want, watch what I want on TV, stay up late if I want to.”
More importantly, you can make the best big decisions for your life. A friend said, “Doing what I wanted when I wanted as I wanted.” And, “If we’d stayed married, I would have spent my retirement in an RV park. I wanted more from life.”
6. You’re different now. The choices you made as a younger person may not be the choices that you would make today. You have changed how you see the person you married. “I realized I married my mother! Her moodiness and constant nagging felt familiar to me, though I didn’t realize that till we’d done years of couples therapy.”
7. For the kids… One reason people stay in bad marriages is “for the kids.” Yet countless adults have told me, “I wish they’d gotten divorced years ago. We knew how miserable they were. Our whole family was miserable.” Leaving the trauma of a bad marriage benefits your kids, especially when they have witnessed arguments or abuse.
8. You can model healthy relationship behavior. The message to your children is that a divorce is an option, perhaps the last resort, and that a hopeless relationship need not be a trap. Also, as one client told me, “After I remarried, the kids had more varied life experiences than they otherwise would have had. They love their dad and their stepdad too.”
9. Sometimes, there is a happy ending. “Looking back to that time over 25 years ago, I am grateful for the choices I made that allowed me to heal myself and learn how to help others heal from their childhood traumas. I see now how my own unresolved childhood traumas unconsciously affected my choice in marriage. Perhaps the marriage could have been saved if both of us had been willing to work at it and been willing to change, but that wasn't the case with us. So the weak foundation eventually collapsed.
"The interesting thing is that we are now friends, my ex and I. There was a big chunk of time when he was living farther away with other obligations when we rarely saw each other. About two years ago, when he moved much closer, we found that we could enjoy spending time together doing the activities that originally had brought us together. I have tamed that critical part of myself that was so destructive in our marriage, and we can enjoy being friends now.”
And another said, “It turned out we had an opportunity to develop, over time, a divorced family that is intact in a loving, though separate, way.”
© Ann Gold Buscho, Ph.D., 2020.
Thank you to Dr. Buscho for her article and insight. For a link to the full article (with images) as it appears in Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/better-divorce/202010/whats-good-about-divorce