Whatever way you slice it, divorce sucks.
Although I haven’t personally experienced it, I unfortunately get front row seats to couples contemplating it, going through it, and recovering from it in my counseling office.
I was recently introduced to a man who went through a divorce about 10 years ago and has been compiling a list of why divorce sucks ever since. Even though I deal with divorce on a regular basis, reading this list saddened me. Everyone knows divorce is hard, but this list gives a living breathing example of what it’s been like for one man and his kids.
If you’re considering or currently going through a divorce…
I hope reading this list will lead you to consider more than just the short term affects of your decision and motivate you to take one more step towards reconciliation. Divorce might bring you temporary relief from a season of pain, but it will likely extend pain to so many others for a lifetime. Even though divorce might seem like the only option for you, I want you to know there is hope!
(I know some divorces are unavoidable, unwanted, and also permitted in cases of unrepentant adultery, abuse, and abandonment. But, I also know that many divorces can be avoided. The focus of this post is for couples whose circumstances fall outside of these 3 areas.)
If you’ve already been through a divorce…
You can likely identify with many items on this list all too well. I’m not sharing this list with you to amplify what you might be experiencing or have experienced in the past. What you’ve already been through has been hard enough and I pray that you are experiencing God’s grace and healing. Whether your divorce was wanted, unwanted, biblical, or un-biblical, God’s grace is available to you. Yes, God hates divorce, but he also loves divorced people.
Here are 54 reasons not to get a divorce:
- The parents are forever related because of the kids, so there is no true separation. This leads to lingering pain and delayed healing/closure.
- I’ve been told that the relationship with an ex is like a relationship with someone on life support. It will never be the same and it will never grow nor be healthy again. At best, it will barely sustain itself.
- I have also been told that divorce is like a scab over a wound. Just as it slowly heals, something opens it back up starting the healing process all over again. Or in other words, the scab keeps getting picked at, and never fully heals.
- Titles still matter and still sting, to some degree. And they never quite feel adequately defining. Divorced, or single? Single and satisfied? Or single and searching? I have found myself explaining myself and my situation more than I would like. Tiresome.
- Once “divorced” you default to the “single” crowd which could be: single/divorced/never married and with/without kids. Finding the right fit to expand your social circle may be challenging. I still have many, many married friends from church and school, but am rarely invited by married couples for social events.
- Dating again in your 40s and 50s…seriously????? I didn’t like it in my 20s!
- Speaking of dating, I have avoided different events or activities simply because I did not want to go by myself. You get a little “braver” as you get older, but it’s still not fun.
- It is the permanent break up of a family.
- Children’s sense of security and safety in family/home is permanently damaged or at best, altered.
- Children forced to constantly shift gears between two homes, two environments, two sets of rules, two different climates etc…
- Attention on the kids is partially moved to new challenges: job, girlfriend/boyfriend, home, etc… that are a result of the divorce.
- If ex’s are unable to be cordial and sit near each other at sporting/music/social events, then the kids have to choose one parent over the other to sit with.
- Daughters of single dads can’t have friends sleep over and be involved as much as if there was a mother present. This is a smart and good thing, but the daughter still suffers.
- The child is often put in the middle of the parents. One parent doesn’t want to communicate with the other parent, so the child is told to call or text to make plans for pick up and drop off. Not fair to the kids.
- Many times, kids don’t want to go for the “weekend” visit because they have no friends at that parent’s house. They would rather be “home” where their friends are, which sometimes leads to the “Disney” dad scenario since Dad (usually) becomes the main playmate.
- Pets are given away as single parents are unable to care for them. In kids’ eyes, same as dying.
- Divorce often results in kids changing schools which can bring about stressful change dealing with new friendships, teachers, coaches, classes, environment, etc…
- Traveling on airplanes alone cross country to spend time with the other parent (usually dad for the standard 30 days each summer). Possibly scary and anxiety filled travel for children and parents alike.
- I have counseled, supported, cared for, and hugged many a wounded young person that all have one common theme: no dad, or bad dad. Divorce, generally places mom front and center in parenting, protecting, and providing. Dad is minimized too often, or removed. The wounds seem to last a lifetime and manifest themselves into health and relational problems, addictions, self-harm and even suicide.
- The weekly “transition” from house to house is always hard, and annoying at best. Children must “pick up their life” and move it to a different house with a different culture and climate EVERY week.
- A family’s home becomes “dad’s home” and “mom’s home”, not the kids.
- Holidays without kids. Enough said.
- Holidays will be forever divided.
- Gift giving scenarios (birthdays, Christmas, etc.) become challenging when both parents want to give the same gift, or both sides try to “out give” the other parent to prove their love.
- Even if kids are grown, any family holiday with kids and grandkids will require either the absence of an ex, or the potentially awkward presence of ex-spouses and (perhaps) new spouses. Asking all family members (adults and kids) to accept the new dynamics will be challenging.
Parenting after Divorce
- You have 50% influence (instead of 100%) in your kids’ lives (assuming you see them 50% of the time). You have no control over who they are involved with when not under your roof. VERY FRUSTRATING.
- Parenting is hard enough as it is, but try parenting when the ex-spouse has different rules at their house.
- Daily homework is only as good as the ONE parent who has the child during the school week. That leaves out the influence of the other parent.
- How does a single parent possibly work, take care of a house, and take part in after-school, evening, and weekend activities for the kids? In worst case scenario, kids are denied opportunity to take part in activities because logistically impossible for ONE parent.
- Two working parents DREAD summer. Who is going to watch the kids now that they are out of school?
- Easier for one parent to “pass the parenting buck” to the other person if unwilling to make tough decisions.
- Overall diet of children suffers. Frantic single parent has less time to cook a balanced, proper portioned, healthy, and wholesome meal. Leads to a proliferation of eating out which increases caloric, fat, salt, and sugar intake. Child obesity cannot be getting any better under these conditions.
- A study published in Journal of Health and Social Behavior found that divorced or widowed people have 20% more chronic health conditions (such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer) than people who are married.
- Years of alimony and child support for two homes is financially disastrous.
- A marriage spent building a “home” and all that is in it quickly washes away as all possessions (monetary and physical) are divided – hopefully equally.
- You have to buy two of everything or force a constant packing of suitcase every week.
- If married more than 10 years, EVERYTHING is divided 50/50. Regardless of reason for divorce.
- If dad is non-custodial parent, 25% of income goes to child support. It is NOT tax deductible (IS for the ex-wife), and dad has no “dependents” for tax purposes and is therefore taxed more than when he was married, yet he has less net income.
- Strong possibility of losing health care that was once covered in a family plan that no longer covers an individual.
- The quality and size of one home as a family often gives way to two smaller, lesser quality homes (possibly apartments or condos) as both parents struggle with less earning power.
- I have witnessed never ending battles over money, unfortunately much of it being the dads who refuse to pay for items he believes should be covered by child support. I know of never ending court battles to lower child support, making the lawyers, not the families, quite blessed.
- In laws are possibly split from each other as their children are now split. Not just the end of a marriage, but the end of family friendships as well.
- Divorce usually means the end of very meaningful relationships with friends who unfortunately must choose sides, even if done respectfully.
- Lifetime membership to a church is ended as one member stays and one leaves a church in order to avoid awkward situations at every church service.
- Forces a former stay at home mom to HAVE to go back to work as a single mom. This equals less time, focus, and commitment to the kids.
- Dads become irrelevant under “standard visitation laws” He is a visitor more than a dad. Time with dad versus time with mom tends to be less in quantity and quality. Hence the unrealistic title, “Disney Dad”.
- As kids become teenagers, they become too busy with school and events to visit the non-custodial parent. That parent becomes almost irrelevant.
Marriage after Divorce (Blended Families)
- Reasons for divorce often replayed in next relationship revealing inadequate and unnecessary reasons for first divorce.
- Kids have a hard time adjusting to biological offspring of their parent and new spouse. Can feel left out.
- The pain of witnessing a new partner for your ex-mate is not confined to marriage. It is often more difficult to accept that this person will now influence your children (good and bad).
- 2 sets of parents, 4 sets of in laws, step brothers and sisters often results in chaos in rules and cultures, and confusion in loyalties and roles.
- Marriage is hard. 2nd and 3rd marriages are harder: 45% of first marriages fail, 65% of 2nd marriages fail, and a whopping 73% of 3rd marriages fail.
- Sends a message to children that divorce is a real and viable option when their own marriage struggles.
- Divorce opens up the possibility of children witnessing cohabitation of unmarried men and women (i.e. Dad’s girlfriend sleeps over).
- Children of single parents don’t get the opportunity to see a model of what marriage is supposed to look like, or even a healthy “boyfriend/girlfriend” relationship, for that matter, since most responsible [key word] single parents are smart enough not to introduce the kids to the new boy/girlfriend in the early stages. They will have to rely on the advice we, as parents, give them and hope they will learn from what we tell them we did right and wrong (versus showing them).
Distorts God’s Love
As if this list weren’t enough, the single biggest reason divorce not get a divorce is how it distorts the very character of God to a world that desperately needs to understand him.
Ultimately, love between a man and a woman in marriage is about reflecting Christ’s love for us so others can get a glimpse of his covenant love through our marriage. Marriage is designed first and foremost to reflect God’s image…his love…his character. That’s the reason divorce is so destructive. It doesn’t just distort God’s design for families, it distorts Christ’s love to a world that is watching.
If you’re considering divorce, I’m asking you to re-consider: for your sake, your spouse’s sake, your kids sake, your legacy’s sake, but most importantly…For God’s sake.
Hans co-founded Marriage Revolution with his wife, Star, in 2010. He counsels couples in The Woodlands, TX, speaks at marriage conferences around the country, and provides leadership and direction to Marriage Revolution.