Everyone who has been through a divorce has a story about why it happened. Why does divorce happen, though?
In some cases, someone in the relationship is physically or otherwise abusive or just a bad person. Most of the time, however, divorces are the result of one side or both thinking that “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.”
Certainly, we don’t divorce to get rich. Most often, the assets are divided in some form, leaving each side is with something less than 100 percent of the assets, meaning their net worth is less after a divorce than it was before. So why do people do it? The answer may well be that there is something they perceive as being worth the cost – something more valuable than money. Call it closure, finality, freedom, peace, tranquility, independence, or any other word which describes what they hope will make them happier.
So perhaps that is the answer. We divorce to be happy? Or we divorce, seeking happiness. Or we divorce to escape unhappiness. To me (a divorce lawyer for almost 30 years), those answers all ring truer than when I hear people say things like “She’s divorcing for the money.”
People define happiness differently, but in the context of divorce, happiness may be simply defined as “moving forward.” In fact, it may not even be happiness they are seeking or which they achieve. It may simply be the opportunity, or a better opportunity, to seek or achieve happiness. Many people believe – and some rightfully so – that once they get away from their spouse, they will be free to pursue their definition of happiness. Almost inevitably, their financial situation will be worse. Yet for the chance to seek that elusive happiness, many people will determine it is worth the financial sacrifice. They seek what they believe will bring them happiness. It may be the ability to pursue hobbies their spouse didn’t like such travel, dining out, or sports – or it may simply be the ability to be alone, independent, and free of daily confrontation. Whatever it is, a lot of people are seeking it, and hopefully many find it.
It is my sincere hope that divorce is only used after all other efforts, such as therapy, counseling, trial separations, and self-help books have failed. The best way to reduce the chances of regret about divorcing is to try everything one possibly can to make one’s marriage work. Work very hard on your marriage. You married because you were in love and thought he or she was the one for you. And if you work as hard as you can and cannot make it work, then hopefully you won’t regret it once you do, ultimately, divorce. Divorce may not be the answer, and hopefully, it is only used as a last resort. However, for those who do use it in an attempt to find happiness, or to escape unhappiness, I hope you find what you are seeking: a happier future.