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Old 2015-08-02, 03:02   #1536
Zeta-Flux
 
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May 2003

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only_human,

That is a good point, and something I have overlooked in the past.

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Brian,

As one of those children whose parents divorced, let me offer my point of view on the matter. I admit it is only one data point, and definitely not universal. But I hope it may help you see through my eyes a bit on this issue. I'll also offer some thoughts as a man who has been married for 15 years now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian-E View Post
Yes, children are impacted hard. But children are not helped by artificially keeping their unhappy parents together. The situation is tragic, but the damage has already occurred.

And there is no "easy way out" of this awful situation.
When I used the phrase "easy way out" I was using an idiom common here in America. From my experience, people often take the path of least resistance, and from the point of view of couples in marital trouble, no-fault divorce offers little resistance. So I was using the phrase to mean that many people see divorce as a easiest way to escape their pain/unhappiness, but often it isn't.

Let me add that I don't know that there is anything "artificial" about helping a couple understand that they made an important commitment to each other, which shouldn't be dissolved at the first (or even seven times seventieth) sign of trouble. I can attest to the fact that every marriage has its ups and downs. There will always be unhappy times. But, more often than not, if both parties stick it out and try their best to work through those times, things get better.

As for children, there are certainly circumstances where having the couple stay together can be damaging. But those situations usually involve a lot of "fault" from one or both parties. I know that I would have preferred (back when I was 12) for my parents to have stuck it out, even though one of them was at fault. [This certainly isn't universal, e.g. this Huffington post article takes the opposite view. Whereas this article by clinical psychlogist Ruth Peters takes a position more to my experience (since my parents weren't abusive, and didn't argue in front of us).]

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Which says nothing about whether they would be any happier if they had been forced to stay in the unhappy marriage. It seems very unlikely to me that they would.
I agree with your implicit premise, that happiness is important in a marriage. I also agree with you that common sense might lead us to guess it is unlikely that people would be happier if they stuck to an unhappy relationship.

But sometimes life is stranger than we imagine. Indeed, according to sociological studies, people who stick to their marriages through hard times report higher happiness just a few years later.

That said, let me give you my personal point-of-view. When I married, I made the conscious decision to put my wife's happiness above my own. Or, to put it another way, her happiness is a requirement for my happiness. On those occasions where she tells me we need a change, I swallow my pride and do everything I can to make things better. This is not to say I'm perfect at it, only that it is something I try to do.

For me, unhappiness is not a deal breaker, it is a sign that changes need to be made, not covenants needing to be broken.

Quote:
Yes, and those expectations need to play a big role. Their role should be to encourage people to think carefully before getting married (and before taking any major decision related to marriage). Fault laws do not prevent mistakes altogether, however.
Agreed. I would add that those higher expectations can (as only_human pointed out) prevent a couple from being shortchanged into a lesser relationship.

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For financial purposes, yes. But they cannot repair a broken relationship.
Broken things cannot always be mended, and judges are probably the least likely ones to serve as healers for hurt souls. I agree.

But when fault occurs, those not at fault need protections, either financially, or in helping protect children, etc...

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No-one thinks about the laws surrounding divorce at the time they are marrying.
I did. In my case it made me extra careful to pick someone who I believed had the same commitment I did to NEVER mention the word divorce if we could avoid it.

My fiance and I talked about divorce quite a bit actually, and we made the goal in our marriage to never threaten each other with it (in the sense of holding it over the other's head). So far as I can remember, we broke that goal only once. It was an incredibly dark time for me, bringing back many memories of the pain of my parents divorce. Fortunately, we worked through it.

In my experience, many other couples do weight the benefits and risks of marriage before going through with it. (Some, of course, do not.) I think this is one reason why so many nowadays do not get married--because there are so few barriers to ending the relationship, and the costs (financial, emotional, etc...) are just to high, that they decide not to bother.

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I agree that it is vital that people think carefully before marrying, but making divorce difficult will not achieve that.
Not for everyone, but I would argue that for a sizable group of people it would make a difference. (It certainly made a difference the other way, when no-fault divorce laws were passed.)
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