Terrified to Ask for a Divorce

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Have you been spending a lot of time thinking about ways to separate from your partner, but are terrified to ask for a divorce? If so, you are not alone.

In fact, many married couples have been living with the silent realization that their marriage is dead, yet continually ignore the inklings to ask for a divorce because of fear. And, for those of on the outside looking in on these relationships, it can be extremely easy to judge and wonder what in the world is holding them back. Yet, the fear of the unknown can be paralyzing. Especially when it comes to something as permanent and life altering as divorce, which instantly changes your entire life routine. It is this exact fear, which keeps so many couples sticking it out, or finding other ways to keep themselves happy outside of the marriage itself. But is it worth it?

Marriage, whether healthy or not, offers a certain sense of ‘false’ security for most people - in numerous aspects of life. One very important sense, is financial security. For so many couples where incomes are off balance between partners, one partner is always left feeling married to the paycheck. They may worry whether or not they can support themselves, or how they will find a place to live and pay the bills when they are on their own.

It is definitely true that divorce can be (and normally IS) one of the most financially devastating endeavors that couples experience in their lifetime, and the recovery is slow. But it can be done. Yet any sane person who realizes the importance of being fiscally responsible has to feel a certain sense of danger involved when it comes to divorcing, and being able to provide the basic necessities of food and shelter. If this couple have children, the fear of not being able to provide for the children can make the fear of asking for divorce even more acute.

Obviously, another huge reason so many people are terrified to ask for a divorce is because they DO have children and worry what may happen to them. Every married couple has witnessed the familial separation and demise that occurs with divorce. Sharing the kids is the ultimate nightmare for many couples and custody battles, which are often prolonged and ugly, can be avoided if the adults decide to make the ultimate sacrifice of their own happiness and stay in the marriage, at least until the kids are “of age” to make their own decisions about custody. For parents, losing the stability of family life and becoming a single parent, makes them feel as if their decision to ask for a divorce is selfish.

Compound those two issues, with a million other issues that seem to coincide with marital relationships, and the fear of making change can be enough to keep even the most intelligent man or woman from asking for a divorce. You might be worried about what other people think, about being seen as a failure, about money, children, how it will affect your employment (or lack thereof), what your future will look like. You may be afraid of being alone, worry about a life without ‘love’, or even secretly wonder if your desire to get a divorce is unfounded and silly. (After all, things aren’t bad ALL THE TIME!) The truth is that even though you may spend years thinking about divorce, you may never be able to jump the hurdle of fear and actually see your plan to fruition. And for other couples, involved with abusive partners – the fear may be based on something as primal as survival. For these people, who know the relationship is all wrong – they have a nagging sense that they, their children, or their partner – may be gravely and physically compromised should they ever voice their desire to divorce.

The question is, if fear is what is keeping you from asking for a divorce, what should you (or can you) do about it?  

Probably the most important thing to recognize – and the first step in overcoming your fear, is that divorce - even when it leads to an eventual positive outcome and better life for you, is often seen as something negative. Your own ideals and thoughts on divorce as being something morally wrong, socially unacceptable or as a situation that will make you powerless (poor, bad parent, selfish, unable to succeed or provide, etc) are exactly where YOUR fears are rooted. So instead of concentrating on the negatives to divorce, begin thinking of the ways it will impact your life positively.

Another good way to get over the hump is to talk to other people who have gone through a divorce and who are making it. They will tell you that their lives have indeed changed drastically, but most will probably admit that with the weight of an unhappy marriage being lifted, they are happier. Even without the nice house, the SUV, and other perks that your marriage might be bringing you – you really can be happier divorced than married.

If you are a parent, you may also find out that many couples are actually better parents to their children, when they are removed from the unhappy marriage. In fact, research backs up this claim that unhappy couples don’t always make the best parents. Consider the fact that your children will largely use you and your relationship as a role model for their own relationships later in life. Do you want your children’s marriage to mirror yours?

Sure, custody arrangements will have to be made – and these can be difficult for many couples. However, keeping the best interests of the children in mind is key to transitioning through divorce fearlessly. Even if you don’t think your partner will do this, realize that you will have the protection of the court system to help you.

You should also do some homework before you simply ask for the divorce, especially if you know your request is going to be met with some resentment. Start exploring your options, maybe find a place to live, and even sit down and have a consultation with a reputable divorce attorney. Most attorneys will give you a free consult and can also offer a wealth of information and scenarios that you may not have thought of. Plus, you can gain a realistic picture of what the proceedings and settlement may look like when all is said and done.

The bottom line is that the more you know, the more prepared you are and the more research you do BEFORE you ask for the divorce, the easier it can be to do so. The result of clinging to your fear will likely only be a lifetime of unhappiness. Sure, it takes courage to ask for a divorce – but in many cases, it is this courage that will repay you tenfold.

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