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A number of people enter divorce with the expectation that it will end their problems, only to discover that these issues remain or even get worse after they divorce. Regardless of if you’re still mulling over whether or not to divorce or whether you’ve already made the decision, it’s important to have realistic expectations about what a divorce will mean.

What Is Divorce?

  • Divorce is a way to escape a failed marriage and start over. If there is no way you could ever feel happy or fulfilled with this person as a partner, then divorce will set you free to search for someone you can have a happy and fulfilled life with.
  • Divorce is a means of last resort when all other options have been exhausted, and there is no way to salvage the relationship.
  • Divorce is often a complicated, extended process that leaves each partner worse off in the short run, and usually takes several years of adjustment before each party settles into a new normal. This is especially true when there are children involved.

What divorce IS NOT:

  • When you have children, divorce IS NOT the end of your contact or your relationship with your spouse. Your relationship with your ex will continue, just in an altered capacity. Even in situations of domestic violence or abuse, divorce does not usually end all contact with this person.
  • Divorce may not bring an end to the conflict with your former spouse. In fact, a number of spouses who had conflict problems before the divorce will actually see conflict and tensions escalate, and the situation may remain at a heightened level for several years afterwards. In one study, a full third of the divorced couples were fighting at the same high pitch ten years after their divorce was final. (Wallerstein, Lewis & Blakeslee, 2000) Divorce often creates new hurts, and with it, more conflict.
  • Divorce is not an automatic solution to your relationship problems. In fact, many people who divorce discover that the same problems emerge in their future relationships. This is because it’s the attitudes and behaviors of one or both partners – not the quality of the relationship itself – which in many cases is to blame. This is why it’s important to work hard on these issues before divorcing; to ensure it really is the relationship that isn’t working. Those who divorce in haste rather than trying to work for their marriage usually experience déjàvu all over again with their subsequent partners.
  • Divorce is not an easy way out, nor is it painless.
  • Divorce is not a guaranteed solution to your unhappiness. Many divorcees find that their struggles in many areas of life increase after their divorce.
  • Divorce is not a way to get back at your spouse, and should not be used as a venue to “get even” or injure your partner. Parents who use it as such are committing child abuse against their children in the name of petty revenge.

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