What Keeps People in Unhappy Marriages?

In a recent study, the number one reason that unhappy married couples stay together is that they lack the courage to divorce.  It is true that it takes some measure of courage to divorce your spouse and encounter a level of uncertainty about the future.  Of the approximately 2,000 married people surveyed in this study, approximately 20% said that they felt trapped in their marriage, but would not consider divorce unless financial stability could be guaranteed.  Further, 15% of those surveyed said they wished they would have married someone else and a full 29% said that they would suggest to young people to not get married at all.

One of the lead authors of this study commented that although divorce can be a scary proposition, that staying in an unhappy marriage can be detrimental to both spouses and to the children.  Conflict, arguing, and the resulting emotional strain that can result from a toxic marital relationship does not benefit anyone.  An alternative to this scenario is a carefully designed child custody parenting plan by parents who, although they may not live under the same roof any longer, can still have loving and involved relationships with their children.

The study found that the other reasons couples put off divorce are:

  •           Potentially regret the decision to divorce.
  •           Hoping that things will improve.
  •           Want to stay together only for the children.
  •           Financial insecurity concerns.
  •           Do not want to sell the family home.
  •           Concerned about loneliness.

Many married couples believe that children are best raised with the entire family under the same roof.  But what happens when the marital relationship deteriorates to the point where a spouse is concerned about the emotional and, perhaps, physical well-being of the children by continuing to live in the same house? Of course, these questions involve difficult and highly individualized and emotional issues, but it is ultimately the parents’ responsibility to act in the best interests of their children.

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