Being a divorce/custody lawyer certainly opens one’s eyes to the possibilities and depths of despair in the world of relationships.
Once people commit to each other, they form a whole lot of ties that while easy to break in one way, as in, “Get your lame ass out of here,” they’re much harder to break in other ways.
For example, the woman I met last night who hates winter, hates snow, but her child’s father is entrenched here, and she can’t move (with the child) more than 25 miles away from him, thanks to their court order. Or the joint credit card that now has a balance of $20K that you had so much fun running up together, but neither of you can afford to pay it off. Or the mortgage on a house that you just can’t allow to foreclose because you need your credit rating for the next job you want to apply for. These days, a lot of couples are staying together because they can’t afford to live separately in this economy, especially if they have children.
Even women in abusive relationships find it difficult to leave, for many reasons that the average person doesn’t always understand. It’s hard to say “when.” Or in the words of Neil Sedaka, Breaking Up is Hard to Do.
A column at Discovery Health by Coulson Duerksen lists 10 things to consider when you’re trying to make that decision, including the existence of mutual benefit, avoidance and an imbalance of participation/contribution.
Even Oprah.com weighs in on this subject.
This being said, anyone who believes that a relationship will always be happy and unstressed is on better drugs than the rest of us. Ups and downs are a natural part of any relationship, and many factors play into that roller coaster, including seasonal affect problems, past baggage, holiday expectations and the effect of family members on the needs and demands of the relationship.
Those of my readers who have children on the autism spectrum know the demands that special need places on their families. One author says that “Oprah, Jenny McCarthy, and many others cite enormously high divorce rates among parents with autism. Those rates seem to range from 80-90%…” She goes on, as Missy points out, to show that figure to be some mystical number from who knows where–but the fact remains that among the parents of autistic children that I have spoken with in the western PA area and also online, the divorce rate is better than 50%.
That’s huge, my friends.
Considering how much more those children need the support and commitment of their parents, you’d think that would hold the families together. Sadly, the opposite seems to be true.
So many people inch along the border of saying “when,” sublimating their unhappiness for these and other reasons. My nurse-practitioner friend of many years would scold them if she could, sharing one of her favorite sayings, “Life is not a dress rehearsal.” True enough. How much time are these adults willing to waste before moving on, if it’s really time? A month? Six months? A year? Six years?
I’ve had clients dribble away years, waiting. Waiting till the car’s paid off. Waiting till the kids are grown and out of school (which might actually be worse on the children: see here). Waiting until…sometimes until their partner dies. Are their own lives really that unimportant that they can afford to choose not to live them?
When do you say when?