Divorce - Hang on and ride out the storm or run before the wind to a unknown port?

Divorce is always a possibility.  Even for those couples who say they are happy or at the least content.  It's out there and so easy to start and so difficult to stop.

Many people choose it in the hope that their life after divorce will be free from the trials and tribulations that so beset their married life.

Are there any reasons for divorce?
Once one half of the relationship has decided that cutting and running is the only way to go then there is nobody else who can stop the divorce process.  The decision to start divorce proceedings, in practice, requires no substantial reasons as to why the marriage should end.  The law, however, states five circumstances which can give rise to divorce.

Ship in heavy seas


Unreasonable behaviour


Two years' separation with consent

Five years' separation without consent

'Unreasonable behaviour' No evidence is required
The legal formality is that these five circumstances can lead to the ‘irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.'  In practice most people opt for ‘unreasonable behaviour.'  No proof of the behaviour being unreasonable is needed.  This point was illustrated by a recent court case.

Almost any behaviour can be unreasonable
A woman went to court to appeal against her husband's decision to divorce.  She maintained that arguments over the dishwasher and television aerial were far too trivial to end a marriage.  She argued that it was just 'normal squabbling' that had come between her and her husband which could not be construed as ‘unreasonable behaviour' which had led to the ‘irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.'

If what she said was true and we must assume that it was, no sensible person would uphold the contention that this normal (but unfortunate) behaviour was the destroyer of the marriage.  The appeal failed.  Her husband was granted a decree nisi and is now free to apply for a decree absolute to end the marriage.

Logically it was obvious that she could not possibly win.  Had the judge granted her appeal, it was highly unlikely that her husband would return to her loving embrace, convinced by the court ruling that it was he who was being totally unreasonable.  A court can refuse (but almost never does) to grant a divorce but it certainly can't create the loving harmony that is so needed in a relationship.

It was never just about the dishwasher
Squabbling about the dishwasher which then escalates to a major row is not really about the dishwasher at all.  It's about control, about who gets their way, not on the trivia of domestic life but the big (and usually unspoken) issues.  This can be complex stuff that needs help to address the real issues and get behind the nonsense of how you fill the dishwasher.

In these times of soaring divorce rates her actions might be admirable but they are ultimately futile.  It does, however, beg the question: If there is still love in the marriage, how do you know whether and when to walk away from it?

There are times when the decision to end a marriage is the only way that the problem of the relationship can be resolved.  Physical or emotional abuse where the abuser will not respond to counselling is totally unacceptable.  The abused person must leave immediately if only as a separation to allow for further efforts at counselling the abuser to change his/her behaviour.

Sometimes the only thing you need is a good lawyer but it should be the last resort
All marriages go through difficult and often very difficult times.  At what point has everything been done that can be done to overcome these and at what point is divorce inevitable?  This will be different for different people.  But it's probably fair to say that for many couples that point comes sometime before it needs to and could, therefore, have been avoided.  Research recently published in the US found that around 40% of couples regret having divorced.

Nobody would advocate that people are forced to remain in marriages that have clearly collapsed.  Those marriages that are blighted by adultery, deception or abuse clearly need a great deal of help and hard work to get back together.  This is not an impossible task.  It takes a strong person to walk away from a marriage that is in bad shape but it often takes an even stronger person to stay and work together to turn it around.


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