The Health Benefits of “Giving Up”

  • For many, the notion of "giving up" on a marriage may carry a stigma, but there are health benefits in letting go of an unachievable goal.
  • A study measured the health benefits of giving up on a goal vs. staying persistent.
  • The constant persistence can actually make you feel disengaged from accomplishing a goal.

"Marriage should not have to be about jumping through the hoops that force you to put yourself second so often."

During a divorce, you may be facing a lot of finger pointing. Many people look to place blame upon you, and you may be facing a lot of doubters who question whether the act of getting a divorce is a necessary step at all. Some may question if you and your former significant other even tried to make things work.

Unfortunately, not much can be done about those asking those questions. Their minds are often made up and do not always consider the difficulty of making the decision to end an unhappy and dysfunctional marriage. Some do not fully grasp the nights you spent thinking about this decision and how difficult you felt that giving up on the relationship was.

For some, this is the case. For others, it may not have been a challenge at all. Nevertheless, recent studies have shown how giving up on a future that you aspired to, like the future that a marriage entails, can be the healthiest option.

The study

A study, conducted by Gregory E. Miller, of University of British Columbia Vancouver and Carsten Wrosch, of Concordia University, examined the embedded notions of persistence that we, as a society, exhibit in our pursuits of success and happiness.

While the study was aimed at adolescence, much of the results can be applied to adulthood and the never-ending quest for satisfaction. The findings, published by the Association for Psychological Science, found that the 90 adolescents facing unattainable goals over the course of the year, displayed increasing concentrations of the inflammatory molecule C-reactive protein (CRP).

According to the Annals of Medicine, levels of CRP increase rapidly in response to inflammation, trauma, and infection.

Physical effects

With the end of a marriage, it is the end of something that was persistently worked on. Not many who seek a divorce are doing so after putting no effort or work into fixing what is broken, so when the trauma and emotional impact of the situation hits, the physical effects of the occurrence surface.

The physical, mental, and emotional damage of the divorce experience cannot be understated, which is why when individuals look to question one’s commitment in fixing what is broken in the marriage or accuse someone of looking for the easy way out, it is often met with an emotional response.

The notion of persistence

This is because of how deeply embedded the idea of persistence in everything we, as Americans, do.

“The notion that persistence is essential for success is deeply embedded within American culture,” said Miller and Wrosch.

This is part of the reason why giving up on a marriage is so difficult. We, as a society, have been engrained with the ideals of a white picket fence family, that we feel defeated when it does not come to fruition.

Feeling disengaged

Many who reach the point of no return in their marriage, where the two spouses could not seem further apart, may find the goal of a future together to be unattainable, and for many, that is both reality and depressing.

“When people find themselves in situations which they are unlikely to realize a goal, the most adaptive response may be to disengage from it,” said Miller and Wrosch. “By withdrawing from a goal that is unattainable, a person can avoid repeated failed experiences and their consequences from mind and body.”

Feeling low

The rigors of working on the marriage are not easy, but for some, it ends up working out. However, that is not the case for everyone. For many, they put themselves through the ringer and deal with the physical, mental, and emotional consequences of marital conflict in every aspect of their lives, and this type of grueling experience becomes unbearable, forcing them to choose a better option for themselves.

Because of how beaten down someone facing the marital struggles that brink on divorce can get, the goal of staying together may no longer be important. The primary concern can shift to getting better and loving yourself enough to disengage from the dysfunction of the marriage and the unhappiness that it brings you.

Many of grow up believing that the goal is always worth the cost, but then you grow up, and you learn that that is not always the case. You cannot lose yourself and jeopardize your health, your sanity, or your future, in an effort to achieve an unachievable goal.

Marriage should not have to be about jumping through the hoops that force you to put yourself second so often, and when that is the case, it is important to have an honest conversation with yourself or with someone that you trust and assess what can be done to improve your situation.

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