The Greatest Problem from Divorce
- Wednesday, August 15, 2007
What is it about Americans and marriage? National statistics on divorce in this country are alarming. Remarriages are so common that they account for half of all marriages. This truly translates to a national epidemic when we consider that so many divorced people are repeat offenders whose actions wreak havoc and create family fissures, individual suffering, and loss of self–esteem. Yet few address why this is happening or how to avoid it.
You probably know from personal experience how painful and disheartening divorce can be. In our divorce recovery workshops, we hear every story imaginable. It is incredibly sad to hear of so many broken dreams, so much agony from confused children, and so much anger, resentment, and confusion from the parents. No other event in human existence except death is so tormenting and life changing. People sob, they rant, they blame, they plead, they scream, and, underneath, they horribly hurt. We do everything we can to try to calm them and reassure them that, in time, they will heal and life will become more normal again.
But one thing upsets us more than the immediate agony we observe in divorced people. We tell them this unsettling thought: The greatest problem from divorce is not what you think. You may feel like you will never be the same. You are in intense pain. You can't imagine that the heartache will ever go away. You have a kaleidoscope of emotions ranging from shock, sadness, anger, bitterness, helplessness, hopelessness, guilt, shame, stress, insecurity, low self–esteem, to loneliness—and that's just on the first day. Then you are confronted with the seemingly insurmountable task of readjusting your life to a whole new reality. You have new financial strains, challenges with your children, even legal issues to resolve. What could be worse than all of this? you ask. We know for sure that in time you will recover. Those of us who have gone through divorce, or observed others who have, know that most of these consequences are short term, although the healing process takes time and effort. Just ask most people who have been divorced for more than five years. They will tell you it wasn't easy, but they are okay now. They have adjusted.
But that one thing we mentioned that upsets us more than seeing the trauma divorced people go through is the greatest problem from divorce. We know that almost half of these people who choose to remarry will go through divorce again.
Some people say that a repeat divorce is easier than the first one. Total baloney. Anyone who has been through multiple divorces will tell you it doesn't get any easier the next time. What do we feel?
You think you have low self–esteem after the first divorce? Imagine how you would feel after the second or third? You have lost all self–confidence. If you thought maybe the first divorce was a fluke, now you're not so sure. If you thought your ex was all to blame, now you see that you are the common denominator in these divorces. If you think friends and family had a high regard for your character, you wonder what they are thinking now.
Now you begin to think there really is something wrong with you. Your self–perception as a mature, rational individual goes out the window. If you felt like a loser after the first divorce, you get strong confirmation after a repeat.
Fear of Remarriage
The more times you are divorced, the more you fear trying it again. Do you want to risk that trauma all over again? Can you take another failed marriage? Can you subject your children to another broken home? Are you willing to go through the agony and cost of another breakup? Are you ready to chance that all those plans and dreams you have could go up in smoke again? A number of the people in our national survey said that after a few attempts, they were through. They wanted no part of marriage. It became too difficult, too complicated, too risky.
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