When considering the option of divorce, you may think that you wish that you had a little bit more freedom in your life. You may be in a relationship that makes you no longer value having the person that you married impacting the decisions that you make. You may want to explore the freedom of independence, due to the difficulties or conflicts that you are experiencing in your current marriage.
You may feel like you need to gain more autonomy in your daily life and control more of what you are able to do. However, it may be a challenging road to get to that point.
It is important to realize that autonomy from a previous marriage does not occur when you tell your soon-to-be ex-spouse that you want a divorce. It may not even occur when the divorce decree is finalized.
Part of it stems from what we, as individuals, are looking for when we get married. Intimacy, companionship, and autonomy are often sought through the act of marrying someone that you love and cherish, but if those are the goals, the marriage does not always last.
Studies from the University of Cologne suggest that because of how common intimacy is outside of marriage, it has lessened its stabilizing effect in marriage, making them more fragile. Because of the historical and religious significance that typically came with marriage being socially diminished, marriage, as an institution, became more individualized.
According to sociologist Andrew Cherlin, individualized marriage is an ideal, in which spouses view the foundation of their marital stability to be the enhancement of individual well-being and psychological growth, rather than the fulfillment of social obligation. The spouses in individualized marriages seek strong bonds with one another, but they put a significant emphasis on personal autonomy and the freedom to do what they want.
The study at the University of Cologne looked at how individualism and divorce may be related. They examined how spouses strive for self-fulfillment and how they may exhibit a low resilience toward decline in emotional closeness. They also examined if achieving higher autonomy in spouses’ day-to-day lives decreases their dependence on each other for individual well-being and examined if marital stability may be jeopardized by the conscious rejection of prescribed social roles.
The results of the study found that all of the three of the concepts of individualized marriage that they were examining were associated with marital dissolution.
Many individuals become so focused on the ability to make your own decisions that marriage no longer fits who they are, as a person. That is why during and after the divorce, they still are clashing with reality that they face.
During the divorce process, you may decide to stay in the marital home, in order to not be accused of desertion. While that is the most legally sound and autonomous decision that you can make during that time, it can quickly be stopped with an order of protection being filed against you by a soon-to-be ex-spouse, who would rather make false accusations than live under the same roof as you.
Autonomy and divorce
In that moment, you lose your autonomous decision-making ability, in regards to where you live, and now, you are backtracking and are forced to discredit the allegations, instead of working toward a resolution to the disputed facets of a divorce.
Even still, there are aspects to your life that do not have the autonomy being sought after, due to a past divorce. When you are obligated to pay alimony and child support, parts of your financial future are no longer autonomous. You have responsibilities assigned to you by the court, and you are responsible for providing a stable and thriving home for your children, if you have them. They should have the opportunity to call where both parents live, home.
Autonomy and co-parenting
Many co-parents have to deal with the autonomous parenting from the other parent. They suddenly are faced with two options. Either they rebel against what their co-parent has stated and make their own autonomous decisions as a parent when they have the children, or they go along with their co-parent’s autonomous decision and lose their own sense of individualism as a parent, as well as their own sense of autonomy.
Countless studies have proven the benefits of shared parenting and how much children benefit from having communicative co-parents that can learn to be civil with one another. As much as you may want to rebel against a previously made decision, that is undermining existing parenting. It is better to go with it, and then address it with your co-parent afterward, in order to get one another on the same page for the sake of your shared children.
As much as you may look to seek autonomy as an individual, divorce can be a tricky tight rope to find the independence being sought after. If you were someone in an individualized marriage, you may not find the freedom you’re looking for once you sign the divorce papers, but eventually, you will understand what you desire in a relationship moving forward.