According to a 2018 study on America's declining divorce rate, the downturn is attributed to Millennials wanting to wait until they're financially solvent and a bit older (and perhaps wise RetreatA ) before taking the plunge—breakthroughs that Baby Boomers didn't consider as much. But despite today's promising statistics, divorce is still very much a thing. And if your marriage is on the rocks, you'd do well to consider the pros and cons of filing for divorce before making such a life-changing decision.
Whenever we experience significant difficulties in our marriages, we may immediately jump to the idea of getting a divorce. Still, we'd benefit from considering weighing the pros and cons before making such a drastic decision. That said, while some struggling marriages can be repaired—by way of therapy, improved resolution conflict, better sex, and otherwise—others simply aren't salvageable, leaving divorce as the only option.
So if you're thinking about ending your marriage full-stop, weigh the following pros and cons of divorce before jumping head-first into the family court system.
While divorce isn't a cure-all for every one of a marriage's shortcomings, it does have its advantages. Here are four positive outcomes of divorce to consider.
Pro: Putting an End to Abuse
If your partner is abusive, whether emotionally or physically, turn to the family court, which will be your easiest out. No one should endure domestic abuse. After enduring abuse for an extended period of time, you may felt bound to your abuser, which is natural but not okay. You may have trouble imagining your life without the person you once loved, but try to see the bigger picture: Someone who hits you, screams at you, or threatens you does not love you.
Your life will undoubtedly be better once you feel safe and secure.
If you are a victim of abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline or give therapy a try. Talking to someone unbiased who has your best interests and safety at heart is always a good idea.
Con: Confusing Your Kids
Make no mistake: Divorce is as hard, if not harder, on children as it is on their parents. Even if your kids are older, they probably won't be able to fully grasp the complex reasons their parents feel compelled to end their relationship. Some kids tend to blame themselves, which only makes everything that much more challenging.
You and your spouse can lessen the burden on your children by making their needs your number-one priority both during and after your divorce. Although a divorce that's devoid of outward animosity isn't always easy to promise, acting civil during the process will help your kids navigate the changes your family is about to undergo.
Pro: Enjoying Newfound Freedom
If you're married, you are probably familiar with the concepts of compromise and sacrifice. For instance, perhaps you felt the need to put your career on hold so that you could be more present in your kids' lives. On the other hand, maybe you felt pressure to support your family financially, so you accepted a high-paying job with grueling hours. Now that you are no longer a part of a couple, you are free to do the things you couldn't do when you were married.
Go ahead, book that solo weekend getaway. You deserve it.
Con: Draining Your Finances
Divorce isn't cheap: Both parties will incur attorney and legal fees—and they only add up when children are involved. The primary parent will often be entitled to child support, and in some cases, spousal support, and even the most robust household income will, in essence, be halved. Possessions, earnings, real estate holdings, and sometimes even debt gets divided between you and your soon-to-be-ex.
Pro: Dating New People
Whether you got married young and eventually fell out of love or you waited a while before tying the not and feel like you settled, there are infinite reasons for getting a divorce. One big reason is feeling like the love between you and your spouse just isn't there. An amicable divorce is a pretty good option that allows you to rebuild a healthy, rewarding life with someone new.
Con: Dealing With the Adverse Emotional Ramifications
Even if a divorce is civil, that doesn't mean you aren't immune to negative, even devastating, feelings that may follow the split. It's also impossible to know beforehand when and how hard they'll hit you. And regardless of the problems you two had, you'll probably still harbor psychological attachments that can be difficult to shake. Loneliness, sadness, self-blame, and worry, albeit normal, can be notoriously tough to bear, too.
Pro: Reconnecting With Your Kids
Even though the initial shock of divorce may hurt your kids in the immediate, they may come to see it as a breath of fresh air—especially if you and your ex were constantly arguing and the kids always ended up in the middle. Once the split is official, the kids may let out a sigh of relief that they finally have two happy parents again.
Con: Explaining the Situation
Like your kids, your coworkers, friends, and family will also be impacted by your divorce: The duo that they once knew and loved will morph into two separate units and, whether they're forced to or not, they might take sides. It's essential to recognize that cracks in third-party relationships can also develop once the divorce is final. In addition to your spouse, you may lose other important people in your life, too.
One thing to keep in mind, though: Anyone who willingly walks away from your friendship and love is not someone worth having in your life anyway. Real friends will stick by your side and support you.
Cohen PN. The Coming Divorce Decline. Socius. 2019 Jan-Dec;5:10.1177/2378023119873497. doi: 10.1177/2378023119873497