Understanding the Fear in Taking the First Step in Pursuing Divorce

  • When the topic of divorce comes up, many can find themselves crippled by the fear of pursuing it.
  • Many factors can go into what motivates fear during the divorce process.
  • Once the divorce process begins, fear can psychologically shift to determining fault in the end of the marriage, regardless of the lack of legal consequences of the matter.

"In examining why you are afraid, you can better understand what it takes to overcome that type of fear."

It’s not easy to admit that you were wrong about something. Whether it is something small like picking out a poor tasting salad dressing or something large, like mismanaging your finances, your pride is something you can find yourself holding onto, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

When it comes to having marital issues, it can be difficult admitting that someone was wrong in any way. When the conflict escalates and a separation in any form is brought up, the conversation can sometimes be taken over by fear.

Assessing fear

Many spouses find themselves living in untenable, unmanageable, unhappy, and dysfunctional marriages sustained by the fear of actually going through with a divorce. Many see the act of going through with a divorce is them saying that the marriage itself was a mistake that they had made.

However, it is important to remember that marriage requires two people, of their own free will, to go through with the act. The other person had to consent to take vows and sign documents, stating their intentions to be married to you, and for you to take all of the responsibility for something that it took two people to consent to is simply you being unfair to yourself.

Actions for others

If you find yourself in a position where select individuals in your life were questioning your choice to get married, than you might find yourself dealing with a lot of “I told you so”-type sentiments. It promotes a level of self-doubt internally, while externally, you may find yourself holding onto your pride and the marriage itself in an attempt to prove people wrong.

This is not an action done for you. This is an action done for others. In holding on out of spite, you are not only hurting yourself, but also those invested in you being married, such as your spouse and children. If the relationship is not functioning, then it may be time to start a conversation about where to go from there.

Reasons we give

Taking that step can be scary. Many find themselves intimidated by the idea of being single, because they feel that the world has changed so much since they were last single. They have trouble conceiving the idea of not having their spouse in their lives, even if the marriage is not working.

Feelings of loyalty to the idea of having someone in your life can prevent you from taking the next step in moving forward in a divorce. We, as a society, enjoy planning for whatever comes next, but after spending a number of years with the same person and the relationship fails to function, the level of uncertainty toward the future can motivate someone to attempt to fix what is unfixable.

This is not necessarily to say that you should not attempt to fix what is broken. Research has proven the effects of couples counseling, and many marriages have been saved by the employment of therapy. However, this discussion is assuming that you have taken the steps to try to fix what is broken in your relationship, and it has not worked.

At that point in the conversation to end the marriage, you should be commended for trying to fix things in the relationship. Many individuals refuse to seek therapy or counseling out of a sense of pride or out of a sense of fear. They are afraid of what they may discover about themselves, their spouse, or the marriage as a whole and may choose to seek divorce.

The first step

Once a divorce is in play, the fear psychologically shifts to determining who was at fault. Many fear that unless there was something illegal or underhanded at play during the course of the marriage that they will find themselves blamed and on the losing end of the split. However, who is at fault for the demise of the marriage is of practically no importance in shaping the outcome of divorces, according to Psychology Today.

That does not necessarily mean that there are no emotional consequences when infidelity or other issues cause a divorce to occur. It just means that with the expansion of no-fault divorce, there is less incentive to cite the actual cause. Simplifying the process has made courts less likely to look at the details of the matter, when dividing assets.

In examining why you are afraid, you can better understand what it takes to overcome that type of fear. Whether it is splitting assets, being single, proving others “right”, or general uncertainty toward the future, there are countless reasons why taking the first step in a divorce may inspire fear, but it is important to think of the well-being of yourself and your children, if you have them. Do you stand to gain health and wellness by staying in this unhappy and dysfunctional relationship? Have you tried your best? If you can answer honestly to both of those questions, fear is not the part of the equation keeping you from pursuing a divorce.

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