An unhappy relationship is a source of much stress and worry. It can even cause clinical depression. However, it’s quite difficult for some couples to divorce so they keep doing their best in order to save their relationship even if it’s best to leave it in the past. There are a bunch of reasons why people stay in an unhappy marriage. Do you think the fear of looking like a loser to others or being without money can force families to stay together?
Bright Side decided to figure out why some couples are afraid to break up even when there is no love left in the relationship. We’ve also explored how to overcome our fears in order to make the right decision if faced with an unhappy marriage.
1. Low self-esteem
Low self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence make people maintain unhealthy relationships. Psychologists claim that a person who is unaware of their advantages is subconsciously ready to be treated badly. These people truly believe they don’t deserve love.
Here are several recommendations for those who get stuck in toxic relationships due to constant self-abasement:
- Invest in yourself. It can be a new hobby, culinary courses or a vacation. The first person who should take care of you is you!
- Forgive yourself. Stop blaming yourself for past mistakes and instead, think about the future.
- Say good words about yourself. Never say things like, “I’m a loser,” or “I’m a fool.” You are unique and you deserve the best.
Now you can look at your life through different eyes — eyes of a truly self-confident person that can assess whether you really need your partner or not. Perhaps you were sticking with this person because you felt you didn’t deserve better.
There are still strong and wide-spread stereotypes in society that say life is over after 40 and that it’s impossible to find true love. Fear of loneliness is why many couples prefer to stay together. However, sociologists claim that people can settle their personal life at any age. Almost half of women above the age of 45 that went through a divorce claimed that they are now happier than ever.
The psychotherapist Charlotte Friedman created a special group for supporting people who are in a state of stress after a divorce. Charlotte claims that an “adult” divorce has its advantages.
- It’s likely that your kids have already grown up. Now you are free to do whatever you want — travel and dedicate as much time to yourself as you want.
- You are independent and finally can choose a person who will make you truly happy. Or you can choose not to be with anyone — it’s your life and it’s only up to you to decide what it should be like.
Sometimes an unhappy marriage becomes a trap and it’s money that keeps spouses together. The British law firm, Slater & Gordon conducted research and found that the main reason why people stay together despite the absence of love and mutual understanding is fear. And one of the biggest fears is the fear of staying on the rocks. 20% of 2,000 surveyed couples claimed that they were not planning to divorce unless they felt complete financial stability.
Psychologists recommend striving for financial independence in the marriage. It will help avoid inequality and conflicts because of expenses. In order to get out of a financial trap, people should stop sacrificing their professional and personal development for the sake of the family. If you are financially independent, you will always be able to leave a person you don’t love and won’t have to wait for “the right moment”.
4. The pressure of society
There are also outside forces that encourage an unhealthy marriage like social reprobation and the pressure of a family’s elder generations. Couples living in unhealthy relationships tend to worry about what their relatives, neighbors, and colleagues will say.
A divorce should be a well-thought-out decision made by 2 people. Gwyneth Paltrow has shared her experience when she was in the process of divorcing and spoke about what she called, “conscious uncoupling”. It’s the state of a couple before the final break up when both partners decide how they are going to live after the divorce and split up peacefully fully understanding their actions. In this case, the people around them will not have any questions because it is a deliberate decision made by 2 consenting adults.
5. “They’re bad, but they’re mine.”
“At least I am not lonely” is the motto of people who don’t dare to stop unsuccessful relationships. All because they can’t see other perspectives and are sure that “a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush.” Recent research has shown that a woman will likely apply for a divorce if she has a wide range of potential partners and financial stability.
The feeling of hopelessness and being sure of the fact that an old but bad partner is better than a potential Prince Charming leads to sad consequences because such couples live like neighbors under one roof.
The solution is to work on oneself and to build self-esteem. Take an active life position in order to choose the partner you deserve and not to put up with the one you already have.
Having children is perhaps one of the main reasons for not getting a divorce. And that’s actually quite understandable — we all are aware of the negative effects that divorce has on children. They can feel guilt, anxiety, and uncertainty. However, psychologists suggest looking at this problem from a different angle.
Children living in an unhappy marriage have to encounter psychological pressure daily and feel the severity of unhealthy relationships between parents. The toxic behavior of adults brings destruction into a child’s life. Very often kids start to blame themselves for all the troubles taking place in the family. That’s why if your love has been replaced by decreased feelings toward each other or even hatred, the best way out will be a civilized separation. However, before making such a serious decision, it’s necessary to visit a family psychotherapist in order to reduce a child’s stress that is caused by the parents’ separation.
7. Being sure that happy marriages don’t exist
Some people mistakenly think that happy relationships don’t exist at all. And this belief makes them live in an unhappy marriage for many years. Psychologists think that this kind of belief appears in childhood — perhaps, you never had an example of true love between parents or your first love ended up being a huge disappointment.
Very often, spouses get used to living in a toxic relationship and don’t intend to divorce even after realizing the futility of their marriage. Turns out, a habit is just as much a component of love as passion and intimacy are. That’s why unhappy marriages can last for many years. It is advised to work over these wrong beliefs with a psychotherapist before starting a marriage.
8. Hope for the best.
Many couples stay together not because they are happy at this moment. They simply hope that they will be happy sometime after. A psychologist named Levi Baker together with his colleagues held some research that explained the mechanism of this phenomenon. As it turns out, hoping for a happy future is one of the main factors for saving a marriage even if it is unhappy.
A psychotherapist and an interpersonal relations specialist, Jake Eagle, named another reason -“Hollywood brainwashing”. Jake says that romantic stories from movies where characters always stay together even in the worst situations make regular people believe in the reality of such a scenario in life. But it’s not like this at all! In reality, people don’t change by magic and happy endings rarely take place.
Psychologists claim that people encountering a situation like this have 2 options:
- Don’t wait until your loved one changes but instead, change your attitude to his or her imperfections, accept your partner’s lifestyle and, finally, calm down.
- Don’t wait and leave the family feeling completely dissatisfied with the situation. After all, the years of waiting can still end up being a full disappointment.
Do you think it’s worth keeping the family together despite all your marital difficulties, or is it better to search for a new love? Please share your opinion with us in the comments!
Illustrated by Alena Tsarkova for BrightSide.me