image edited by Fernando Kaskais
For Megan, getting married was an easier decision than getting a divorce.
Their relationship started so well and seemed so natural that Megan ignored the warning signs her family tried to show her. Now, after three years of being married, she realized that a divorce would be necessary. Making this decision, however, was much harder than she expected.
At the beginning of their marriage, Megan felt the excitement, passion, and desire that a relationship often brings. But soon some concerning behaviors in her partner began to surface. When she tried to address them, she was met with even more damaging behaviors and complete resistance. After reviewing the list below, she realized that her husband’s actions were all valid reasons for divorce.
With new feelings of anger, rejection, and betrayal, Megan began the complicated process of seeking a divorce. Severing ties with her husband was difficult and she gave great consideration before she did it. Here are the ten reasons a divorce should be considered:
- Abandonment/neglect: There are several forms of abandonment or neglect. Physical desertion is leaving a spouse for an undisclosed period without an agreement for return. Emotional neglect is telling a spouse they are unloved, refusing support, rejecting intimacy, or controlling behaviors. Financial negligence is denying the basic needs of a spouse (food, shelter, and clothing) through the withholding of resources.
- Abuse: An abuser uses cruelty, neglect, or violence to dominate others. Abuse is not about love; it is about control. There are seven ways a person can be abused: physical (hitting, restraint), mental (gaslighting, twisting the truth), verbal (name-calling, yelling), emotional (guilt-tripping, generating confusion), financial (hiding funds, job interference), sexual (coercion, rape) and spiritual (dichotomous thinking, legalism). All abuse is destructive, devastating, and harmful.
- Adultery: Think of adultery as anything that comes between the marriage partners and becomes more important than the marriage itself. It pulls the partners away emotionally, sexually, or both. Emotional affairs can even be more damaging than sexual ones. For instance, work, porn, alcohol, or another person all can be mistresses of a sort.
- Addiction: A long-term untreated addiction usually brings about abandonment, abuse, and adultery. When the addiction becomes the center of the marriage, both spouses participate in unhealthy behaviors: the addict uses, and the non-addict enables. This downward spiral is damaging. The recovery process for addiction often involves the addict working on himself or herself first before dealing with the consequences in the marriage.
- Mental illness: Mental illnesses vary in severity, duration, prognosis, and treatment. It is best to get an accurate diagnosis by a trained professional before determining that this is an issue. A person who refuses to get treatment for a severe mental illness puts the marriage in jeopardy because the spouse grows weary of feeling as if they are carrying more weight.
- Criminal activity: Not all crimes are the same. But misdemeanor or felony charges that involve harming or threatening to harm another person are particularly dangerous. Anytime a violent act can be committed against another person means the same violation can occur to a spouse or child. Remaining married to someone who has made such threats or has harmed others can end disastrously.
- Negative change: Ideally, as a marriage matures, the couple grows together in healthy and productive ways. However, some change can be detrimental when an individual becomes dominating, isolating, controlling, detached, angry (aggressive, suppressive, or passive-aggressive), obsessive, abusive, or resentful on a regular basis. This often leads to abandonment or adultery and could be a visual manifestation of an untreated mental illness.
- Financial: Couples arguing over money is a common occurrence. But when an individual steals money, extorts funds, cheats on taxes, bribes others, commits fraud, incurs excessive debt, or has a spending addiction, this is more than a simple disagreement. In a marriage, both individuals can be held financially responsible for misappropriation of funds. A divorce might be the only way to legally protect yourself.
- Child maltreatment: Abuse, cruelty, or neglect of a child is inexcusable. When one parent mistreats a child and the other parent looks the other way, they are both guilty of harming the child. Allowing a child to grow up in this environment can cause severe mental illness for the child with life-long effects. Or, worse, the child could become an abuser as well.
- Conflict: Many couples argue. This is both normal and helpful. However, disagreements that lead to physical violence, withholding of sex or intimacy, the silent treatment, or non-stop bickering are destructive. Long-term unresolved conflict often leads to resentment, bitterness, or isolation. This is not a marriage, it is a roommate.
Megan used this list as a reminder of the reasons she got a divorce. It helped her to keep things in perspective and not minimize his destructive behavior.