Exposing harmful divorce myths

There is almost no misery like the misery of a failing marriage.

Life becomes much harder when a relationship meant for love and companionship becomes one of conflict and distance. 

But is divorce the only escape from a troubled marriage? 

In the US, almost 50% of all first marriages, and 60% of second marriages end in divorce.

One survey indicated that about half of those who divorced later wished that they or their ex-spouse had tried harder to work through their differences. 

Getting a legal divorce is relatively easy; the experience of divorce is far more painful.

Divorce diminishes self-confidence and multiplies a mixture of guilt, anger, and insecurity. It also complicates interpersonal relationships — especially when children are involved.

Divorce is not an easy solution for a troubled marriage, but it’s far worse for the one million children each year in the US who share the experience of their parents’ divorce.

In “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce” Judith Wallerstein presents sobering evidence of the long-term negative effects of divorce on children. Those questioning whether they should keep their marriage vows for the sake of the children should read this book.

For 25 years, Wallerstein followed the lives of more than a hundred children from the time of their parents’ divorce into their own adulthood experiences. Wallerstein focuses especially on seven of those children who characterize the common experiences of the larger group.

This study exposes the long-standing notion that ending an unhappy marriage is better for the children. This myth says, “If parents are happier, children will be happier.” It’s misguided to suppose that children who are distressed by divorce will soon get over it because children tend to be resilient.

Equally misguided is the notion that “… divorce is a temporary crisis that exerts most of its harmful effects on parents and children at the time of the breakup.”

The authors of this study state that, “People who believe this leap to the happy conclusion that the key to the child’s adjustment is the settlement of conflict without rancor.” It’s the misleading notion that, “If the two parents don’t fight, at least in front of the children, and if they rationally and fairly settle the financial, legal, and parenting issues that divide them, why then the crisis will resolve itself in short order.”

A sad consequence of this myth is that, “…it has prevented us from giving children and adults the understanding they need to cope with the divorce experience over the long haul.”

“Adult children of divorce are telling us loud and clear that their parents’ anger at the time of the breakup is not what matters most. Unless there was violence or abuse or unremitting high conflict, they have dim memories of what transpired during this supposedly critical period … It’s the many years living in a post-divorce or remarried family that count, according to this first generation to come of age and tell us their experience.”

“It’s feeling sad, lonely, and angry during childhood. It’s traveling on airplanes alone when you’re seven to visit your parent. It’s having no choice about how you spend your time and feeling like a second-class citizen compared with your friends in intact families who have some say about how they spend their weekends and their vacations. It’s wondering whether you will have any financial help for college from your college-educated father, given that he has no obligation to pay.”

“It’s worrying about your mom and dad for years — will her new boyfriend stick around, will his new wife welcome you into her home? It’s reaching adulthood with acute anxiety. Will you ever find a faithful woman to love you? Will you find a man you can trust? Or will your relationships fail just like your parents’ did? And most tellingly, it’s asking if you can protect your own child from having these same experiences in growing up.”

We must be patient and work harder at relationships. Too many couples marry with unrealistic expectations of ease and sustained happiness. We must help young people understand that maintaining a good marriage requires effort and commitment. But the rewards are worth it. They must know that marriage is not about being in love but an agreement to love.

If you’ve been unable to resolve your marital difficulties, seek help from a counselor. With God’s help, through caring people, deeply troubled marriages can be turned around to become satisfying relationships of love and companionship.

Steve Cornell

See: Marriage Resources and God wants to use marriage to change you

This entry was posted in Broken Relationships, Counseling, Divorce, Divorce and Remarriage, Marital Separation, Marriage. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Exposing harmful divorce myths

  1. Kim says:

    I am one whose marriage did not survive the years of porn addiction in my spouse’s life and the resulting 6 affairs. I’ve only been divorced for a year, and I think it has been the most nightmarish experience of my entire life. I know without a doubt that it will have lasting effects on all of our lives the rest of our lives. I thank God that my kids were old enough to forego the shared custody experience. I know why God hates divorce. I’m not a fan myself. BUT I know that God loves me and my boys and has delievered us from a very unhealthy and dagerous situation. I thank God that He has protected me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Both my boys and I are serving God and thriving now.

    I know God can and will heal marriages if both parties are willing to submit to the counseling and accountablity needed to do the hard work of healing. When only one is willing, it’s time to accept the fact and escape with your health intact. Also, it’s needful to know that the choice to divorce HAS consequences, and you have to be willing to accept that as well. Like I said, I know God loves me, but I understand why He hates divorce. I do too.

    • I believe that marital unfaithfulness is a divinely permitted grounds for divorce. In Old Testament Law, adultery (a clear case of marital unfaithfulness), ended the marriage because it was a capital offense (Deuteronomy 22:22; Leviticus 20:10). Adultery under Old Testament Law ends the marital relationship by death. The disciples of Jesus lived under Roman rule and could not exercise rights of capital punishment. Perhaps Jesus’ teaching is a way of honoring the original intention of the Law of God. All views on divorce and remarriage agree that if your mate dies, you are free to remarry.

      • Kim says:

        THANK YOU for this wisdom! Thank you!! And also thank you for the wisdom on remarriage. That is a consequence (waiting to remarry if you ever do) of deciding to end a marriage. I’ve had MANY people want to debate about remarriage, and quite frankly, the only “freedom” to do that is through the death of a spouse – as far as I know divorce hasn’t killed anyone yet!🙂

        Thanks so much for sharing this!! I so appreciate it!!

  2. bombladoze says:

    Reblogged this on It won't always be bad….

  3. Pingback: women need sexual variety | rougedmount

  4. brendans2911 says:

    I can usually operate with 1 Cor 10:13, but after 2 years almost entirely in 1 Cor 7:5, and with a lot of abuse in the past…

  5. brendans2911 says:

    …any suggestions? But I am so bitter now that…

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