Experts have been studying and scrutinising the reasons behind why people stay in loveless or failing marriages. As onlookers, it’s easy for us to judge a situation from the surface. What we might fail to see is the hidden or inconspicuous reasons behind why a person chooses to stay in their marriages despite all they’re going through. No one understands their life as well as them, and no one has experienced it like they did.
Which is why we as ‘onlookers’ are often unable to fully comprehend why someone chooses to stay. Often, in these types of relationships, divorce might actually be in everyone’s best interests.
Personally, I think people should first do whatever they can first to make the marriage work. Unfortunately however, there may be instances where there seems to be no recourse. After weighing the pros and cons, talking to those around them and getting other forms of help, it looks like divorce might be the best way out.
Previously, it was more common for couples to stay in a bad marriage for the sake of the children. However, with changing times and new regulations with regards to marriages and divorces, this might now be less common. Now though, it’s more common to hear that a divorce can be what the family needs in order for the individuals to move on and live happier lives.
Of course, i’m oversimplifying things. For couples with children, it’s not easy just choosing to end a marriage. Children come with their own sets of considerations which cannot be taken lightly. Parents should also be aware that their decision to get a divorce can have a great impact on the upbringing of the child. Though some parents might love their children too much to even consider a divorce.
Money is a common reason why couples argue, and it’s one of the considerations people have when thinking of leaving a marriage. In other words, they are thinking of their ability to sustain their current lifestyle. It’s not as easy as just choosing to live a more frugal lifestyle by sacrificing on luxuries and penny pinching. Couples more often than not, have debts to pay off and commitments. Some of these take years to repay.
Furthermore, it can be very daunting to suddenly face the world alone after being in a relationship and having someone to depend on. It’s even worse for those who have little to no work experience or have been in a very long marriage. According to the Singapore department of statistics, the median duration of marriage before divorce is about 10 years. The thought of being on your own after 10 years of marriage as we mentioned, can be very scary. So as an outsider looking at other’s marriages, we are not in a position to judge those who stay in their relationships.
Not mentioning that in Singapore, men might be asked by the courts to pay alimony to their former wives. This means that on top of working on rebuilding and re-adjusting to his new life, he now has 2 households to support. This can be very challenging for men who are not earning much. Even those with high incomes may feel the pinch of supporting another household. This is why some men try to avoid a divorce.
We don’t even have to get started talking about the legal fees involved during divorce. And we see that just on the topic of money itself, comes a list of underlying problems related to it. Problems that we might not have foreseen or understood previously.
Closely related to money is fear. They fear what might happen after the divorce. How will they support themselves and their children, where will they live, what kind of life they will lead, etc.
The fear of the unknown is simply too unnerving or intimidating, so people get distracted or find ways to make life with their partner bearable. Unfortunately, some of the ways they choose to cope with an unhappy marriage can make things worse, such as alcoholism or spending excessively.
In this instance, fear is extremely powerful. Not knowing how life will turn out is enough reason for some to stay in their relationships as it’s familiar to them, as they don’t have to worry about the uncertainty and what lies ahead. They’d rather be unhappy than fearful.
Some people might do what experts call “hope”. They have an expectation or hope that their partner would be something they could be, instead of who they actually are. Unfortunately though, this hope can sometimes cloud their judgements.
For example, some might think “my partner only comes home late a few times a week, this was better than last time when he stayed out late almost everyday. It’s ok and doesn’t harm anyone.”
Some people stay in bad marriages for years because they are tired of trying or are afraid of the unknown. They have given up the idea of having a better life.
Although divorce is difficult and taxing, in the very least it provides the possibility of a better future. Remaining in an unhealthy marriage and having to face even more unhappiness can be downright depressing and might be worse off for the person.
There are people who feel obligated to stay in their marriages no matter what. This might be due to the vows they made, promises to families, or because it feels like ‘the right thing to do’.
Other reasons include their family background. People in failing relationships do not want to be the first in the family to get divorced, partly due to embarrassment or resentment. They fear that their family and friends might perceive them differently. Some believe that they have to live with the consequences of their actions (getting married to that person), which in this case results in their failed marriage.
Sometimes, people even convince themselves that they are too old, too this or too that to find a better life. They have the notion that they are unable to make a better life for themselves, unable to live without their partner, unable to find love.
A healthy relationship has to be mutually beneficial, and not harmful to any party. Arguments and unhappiness will definitely happen and is inevitable even in the best of relationships, but it shouldn’t be the case all the time. It takes a brave person to make positive change, and to work for a better life for themselves and their children.
“Leaving your marriage may be the biggest challenge you will ever face in your life. It is important to contemplate divorce only when all other alternatives have been considered and exhausted. If, however, you truly feel your marriage is over and that you have done all you could to save the relationship, it is more of a disservice to yourself and the world around you to stay.”
For outsiders like myself, who are wondering why some choose to stay in unhealthy marriages, I hope this has provided an insight into the many factors that have to be taken into account before moving forward with a divorce.
Lastly, choosing between staying married or leaving is a very personal choice and for those who are contemplating divorce, it is crucial to first get professional guidance either via counsellors or divorce lawyers, or talk to friends and family. Joining divorce support groups or talking to others in similar situations can also help greatly. Do not rush to make a decision, take time to fully think about it. Weigh the pros and cons, and most importantly, consider the effects it will have on yourself and those you care about. Remember that at the end of the day, only you know what’s best for yourself.
“If you don’t like where you are in life, there comes a point when you must give up the part of you that’s keeping you back.”