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Stalling on Divorce Until the Economy Improves

I have two friends who have been married for over a decade, and who are now desperately trying to claw their way out of the shambles of their marriage. The marriage collapsed over a year ago under the weight of false expectations, personal disappointment, and the sort of general dissatisfaction that will make anyone lose interest in the other. The past year, besides being a glacially progressing emotional hell, has also brought on a significant amount of job and financial insecurity for them both. They have children, a sizable mortgage, and the sort of financial obligations and entanglements that would make a swift and tidy divorce an expensive prospect. While all (or at least most) of their friends are sitting on the sidelines advocating for a divorce, they remain married and living together, with very little momentum, or movement, towards the “big D.”

Whether this inertia is prompted, or wholly informed, by financial concerns is anyone’s guess, but according to Judge Michele Lowrance, author of “The Good Karma Divorce,” many unhappy couples are slipping into a sort of “divorce limbo” because they simply cannot afford to take the final step. When I am forced to think about it, if my happy marriage were to go south and become unsustainable, I know that separation and divorce would be financially devastating, maybe enough for us to hang on to a fledgling partnership way beyond the point of comfort, or reason.

While I am somewhat loath to promote the type of book that is “The Good Karma Divorce,” (Lowrance, while being a bona fide judge is also an entertainment lawyer – you fill in the blanks) it seems to hold some value and make a notable contribution to the contemporary discussion about the financial and emotional disincentives toward divorce. Below is a video of a CBS Early Show segment, which aired on the subject:

It goes without saying that divorce, contrary to the riot of tabloid headlines concerning celebrities, is never an easy road to venture down. Besides the expenses and financial considerations, the emotional toll is likely just the thing that will keep you licking your wounds for some time. And even the most amicable divorce (lacking custody battles and property rights) will cost you a considerable amount in legal fees and such. So, is divorce worth shelving until the financial forecast improves? Should emotional concerns trump financial concerns in dealing with the longevity of a partnership? Is there ever a really good reason to remain in a loveless relationship, and if so, is there a way to make a broken marriage last as more of a partnership than a relationship?

Read more: Children, Family, Love, Parenting at the Crossroads, Sex, , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

53 comments

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8:44AM PDT on Oct 2, 2012

sad circumstance

11:46AM PST on Mar 9, 2012


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5:29AM PDT on Aug 11, 2011

Thanks for the article.

8:01AM PDT on Sep 10, 2010

For better or worse people need to be more mature and stick to these words instead of taking the easy way out.Marriage is not always perfect, and some times it takes work.Which is for better and worse.Some people are just not mature enough to live up to those standards and take the easy way out.We have to be careful who we marry.Some times If you have tried every thing and the other partner is not willing to be mature enough to stick to their words I still have no idea why take the easy way out.

11:26AM PDT on Sep 7, 2010

My parents never fought in front of me, so I must say I was more traumatized by the divorce. Then it became worse when my dad remarried and I had to deal with being in the middle all the time between the two families. Needless to say I have not married yet...came close a couple times but I just can't go through with it. The scars of divorce run deep.

2:52AM PDT on Sep 7, 2010

the emotional toll is likely just the thing that will keep you licking your wounds for some time

11:39AM PDT on Sep 4, 2010

Sorry Charlene R. they do. Many stay in lousy marriages because of children. The cost of divorce is unnecessarily high sometime it is the judge sometimes it is greedy lawyers. People need to be able to walk away, Anther point is to get rid of community property and start more nuptual agreements that shortchange lawyers.

11:35AM PDT on Sep 4, 2010

Bett4er divorce laws! Right now the states that had easy divorce laws have been jumped by the lawyers! There is a need for cheap divorce. Without lawyers! The lawyers are the problem. Get rid of the lawyer. It should be as easy to get a divorce as it is to get married.

6:21PM PDT on Sep 2, 2010

tough call, I honestly see it as situation depending, the individuals involved, the repoir they have with each other, with and towards any children. Had I not left my ex, one of us would've been in jail or in the morgue. I think we all know situations in which the hostility and violence factor of one person prevents making it an amicable parting of ways, for the record I'm not the violent one if anyone had doubts. But I can speak of knowing couples who've parted ways to live separate lives yet still live under the same roof as roommates, friends, harmonious coparenting if there are children, some got divorced, some didn't due to financial reasons. The one divorced couple not only remained under the same roof as close friends, but when the wives new bf moved into the home too, all 3 persons were really close friends, no hostility whatsoever. Definitely a matter of the character, mindset and relationship status, if all can be amicable and respectful, I see np with being economical, however, it is a hostile and dysfunctional bad relationship, then no, these ppl shouldn't be postponing going separate ways.

12:01PM PDT on Sep 2, 2010

Unfortunately, the economy makes it so we can't afford to divorce. Between being dependent on 2 incomes just to make ends meet, then the tax rebates and such, it's no wonder for one's own interest, that we become slaves to hell because we can't afford the lifestyle. So, do you live in a shack and be divorced or do you stay in a relationship that makes you crazy?

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