The final three reasons for divorce from our list are ones which are perspective and opinion. They are not the ingrained beliefs which help us define who we are, but the matters of preference, comfort and choice which can seriously handicap or cripple a marriage. To quote a dear friend: Just like belly buttons…everyone has one.
When you first started getting starry-eyed about being together forever, one of the things you asked Mate was How many children do you want to have? You assumed Mate was so in love with you, surely the desire to fill the world with your progeny was a given. Oh, sure.
Three schools of thought present:
- Mate wants as many or more than you.
- Mate wants fewer than you.
- Mate thinks children are an act of Karma to punish the teen angst.
1. The more the merrier.
It is far simpler to eventually talk Mate into fewer children. The everyday wear and tear on vehicles, furniture, abodes and bank accounts make pairing with the mate who wants to field a football team an easy difference of opinion to overcome.
2. Not so many.
Convincing Mate to have more children is not so easy. Mate has probably already weighed the possibilities from 1. and concluded the smaller number emotionally, physically and/or financially sound. This type of logic is hard to overcome, but you may find resolution when Mate convinces you of the feasibility.
3. No chance.
The Mate who has no desire to have children is not likely to fare well when your biological clock begins to tick. Stop showing gender bias. There are women who are not interested in a brood, and there are men who would give their eye teeth for a child. While the most difficult of the child arguments to win for the Mate who wants children, it is not already ticked in the lose column.
What are we arguing about, then?
For fertile couples, conception and delivery are the easiest part of becoming and being parents. At the moment the child is born, the title is bestowed with the very first Congratulations! It is not a puppy!
Both of you bring to the table a romanticized view of how you are going to raise your child. You are convinced you will make none of the mistakes you feel your parents did. (Even the ones you will eventually learn were not mistakes.) If you have forgotten, you might want to revisit Expectations for a refresher on romanticizing.
When you were picking out the layette, were you asking Mate’s opinion on such topics as discipline, nicknames, languages, hobbies, curfews, teen pregnancy? Or did you think at the moment of birth you would both be imbued with a omnibus agreement about parenting?
The birth certificate is no more powerful than the marriage license. Neither piece of paper comes with an instruction manual showing how to do it well or without disagreement. How you handle the disagreement is what matters.
We cannot afford it.
If money is not the root of all evil, it is mired in the roots of many divorces. This unfairly blames more paper for human frailty. Money is not the problem. Lack of money is also not the problem. Lack of good judgment, reasoning skills and communication is the problem.
When couples fight about money, it is invariably about one Mate spending money which the other would have not. Even when there is no money coming into the home, the fight is still the same.
Budget is not a four-letter word. Even if Mate has zero money management skills, talking about responsible spending habits and how to prepare for the future is a necessary element of marriage.
Separate, But Unequal
Marriages where Mates separate their finances are not immune from the money fight. Those with both spouses earning are not immune. Those where one Mate earns and spends the money without the consultation of the other are not immune.
Separate finances cure lots of ills, until Mate spends all the money and needs you for a bail out. When both spouses earn, the splitting of accounts payable (especially when something turns up overdue) causes the problem. The CFO Mate runs the risk of not spending on things you find important.
Get A Job
An integral piece of the money argument is often Mate’s lack of gainful employment or underemployment. The cause for unemployment is a mitigating factor, but over time, tests your patience.
Opinion, in this case, is judgment, especially if you are the wage earner. When you begin to look at Mate as a lesser contributor to the family finances, you run the risk of comparing Mate’s contribution in other arenas as well.
Job loss is a part of marriage which requires understanding of the circumstances and acceptance of the factors beyond Mate’s control. This is not a license to accept irresponsible behavior on Mate’s part, but it is a demand to place blame where it belongs.
I have done my part.
The resentment over money becomes a divorce maker when Mates are not talking about the issues and deciding together the correct path to take. Whether the matter is one of strictly job loss (which is a temporary problem) or one of poor spending habits (which took a lifetime to form), the solution must address the resentment.
I have a headache.
Sex is a large component of marriage. Intercourse is not the only sex which plays a role. Most couples associate sex with fidelity. Mate is expected to only engage in sexual activity with you. On the other hand, Mate is expected to engage in sexual activity with you.
As humans age, their bodies produce fewer of the hormones which raise sexual interest, produce sexual attraction and make sex enjoyable. These hormones do not consult Mate. Differences in age, experience and taste make the hormone differences much more obvious.
The Pesky Clock
The biological clock is not a myth. It is a chemical reality. Mate’s obsession with another child is as real a chemical reaction as drunkenness after a bottle of whiskey. Both mates need to have reasonably handled the first of today’s discussions to properly handle the ticking of the clock. Be forewarned:
Logic is often disrupted by and lost on hormones.”
I have needs.
When you or Mate have sexual needs which are not being met, sexual frustration gives way to other marriage disruptive behaviors:
Open relationships are not immune to the problems associated with marital sexual dysfunction (which is not to be confused with erectile dysfunction) because many confuse sexual dysfunction with the belief Mate no longer finds them attractive. In most instances, sexual dysfunction is not about attraction, but is about sex drive and interest.
When couples find they are no longer on the same sexual appetite level, the one on the lower plane will abide the extramarital sex necessary to satiate Mate. While it works for most who try it, success is totally dependent on open communication and a pre-determined understanding of the parameters. Successful couples do not view this as infidelity, instead seeing it as a medicinal antidote to the chemical issue.
How sex weighs in your marriage is between you and Mate. Courts are awarding divorces to couples who have not had sexual intercourse in more than one year, which shows the level of import society puts on marital sex.
Get Over It Or Not
In all of these examples, divorce could be avoided, however, in some cases, divorce is the only solution. While none of these scenarios alone should be enough to warrant scrapping a marriage, in concert with other issues, these can be the straw which breaks the camel’s back.
If you and Mate have talked about the issues, resolved to change, made and/or failed at changes and still have not found common ground, divorce may be a solution.
How have you and Mate overcome one of these problems? How can bad habits be broken before divorce? How important is communication to solving these problems?
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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