Some couples coping with infertility are overwhelmed with grief or anger, and divorce is the only option. Can you save your marriage – and do you even want to?
Here are some thoughts from a marriage expert that might help.
“If you are considering leaving because your marriage is difficult, and you want a quick fix and think the grass is greener on the other side, I ask you to stay and commit fully until you feel that you have put in the work that your marital commitment deserves,” says Susan Pease Gadoua, author of Contemplating Divorce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Deciding Whether to Stay or Go. “Do everything in your power to work things out with your spouse.”
If you thinking about divorce because of infertility, read Contemplating Divorce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Deciding Whether to Stay or Go by Gadoua – it’s a wonderful resources for couples with marriage problems.
And, read on for some suggestions that might help you figure out if you can save your marriage, or if divorce might be the better option…
Infertility and Divorce
Uncovering your motives for wanting to save your marriage – or get a divorce – is key to making the right decision. The reasons you stay married can be less important than your underlying motives for staying married. For couples coping with infertility, it can be even more complicated and painful to think about divorce versus saving your marriage.
Here are some misguided reasons for staying married, plus an explanation of the motives that keep a marriage together (or drive it apart!). For more info about infertility and divorce, read How Infertility Can Affect Your Marriage.
Misguided reasons for staying in a bad marriage:
- Money and security
- Love (marriage requires much more than love to be workable)
- Comfort and familiarity
- Pain avoidance
- Maintaining friendships and relationships with relatives (such as in-laws)
- Keeping up appearances
- Keeping promises
“These misconceptions keep couples in unfulfilling or unhappy marriages, and are based on what I consider to be impure reasoning,” writes Gadoua in Contemplating Divorce. “But what is a good reason to stay or go? This is subjective territory…every one of the above misguided reasons can be a perfectly valid reason to stay. This is where the motive piece comes in.”
If you suffered through a miscarriage and your reason for leaving is because your spouse didn’t support you, read 5 Places to Find Support for Pregnancy Loss.
Moving Towards a Goal Versus Moving Away From Unpleasantness
Moving towards a goal can be a healthy reason (motive) to save your marriage. For instance, the goal of working through your grief over infertility and thoughts of divorce, and making it to the other side with your spouse, could be a healthy reason to stay married. Infertility and divorce don’t always go hand in hand – but if you want to build a happy marriage, you need to work through the underlying pain, blame, or guilt about infertility.
On the other hand, moving away from pain or unpleasantness is not a healthy a reason to stay married. Here are two examples of fear-based reasons for wanting to save a marriage: “No one will ever love me like this again” or “I’m staying because I’m afraid I won’t be able to support myself financially” are fear-based reasons.
Are you trying to save your marriage because you’re afraid of unpleasantness or the possible consequences of divorce? That may not be the best reason to stay married – and perhaps then getting divorced is a better option.
Factors That Will Help You Save Your Marriage
- Mutual love and trust
- Sense of emotional, mental, physical, and financial safety
- Good communication
- Care and concern for each other
- Shared interests
- Commitment to the marriage from both spouses
- Reciprocal partnership
- Self-esteem and esteem from spouse
- Mutual respect
- Common goals
If these factors don’t exist in your marriage, then it’ll require more work to stay married – especially if you’re mourning a broken dream that infertility represents.
This is just a brief, basic overview of the possibilities surrounding divorce, infertility, and staying married. Gadoua goes into much more detail in Contemplating Divorce – it’s an amazing book, and belongs on the shelf of even happily married couples! She discusses how to rebuild marriages in practical ways — and I describe four specific ways in How to Decide About Getting Divorced.
For more help for couples coping with infertility, read Tips for Keeping Your Marriage Strong in Infertility.
If you have any thoughts on these ideas about saving your marriage, divorce, and infertility, please comment below…