Divorce: When Are Differences Irreconcilable?
by Shela Dean
Rated "PG" by the Author.
edited: Monday, December 07, 2009
Posted: Monday, December 07, 2009
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At what point do we declare irreconcilable differences and when do we work harder to save our marriage?
CNN recently reported that divorce has a permanently bad affect on your mental and physical health. In my case, NOT getting a divorce would have been bad for my mental, and his physical, health. Sometimes we just blow it. Maybe we were too young to get married, we looked for love in the wrong place, or we didn't know when to just say, "No!" Then, we come to our senses and divorce is the answer.
Having said that, divorce sucks no matter what. The majority of divorced people have regrets. They are sorry they threw in the towel and wish they'd tried harder. We used to be forced to try harder because it was legally difficult to get a divorce. Now, in most states, citing "irreconcilable differences" is enough, at least as far as the judge is concerned. Have you ever wondered what differences are so irreconcilable that, for example, the 20-year togetherness of Sean Penn and Robin Wright is kaput? Let's think about it for a minute . . .
Every couple has differences they "reconcile" every day. He's a dog person, she's a cat person. He loves eggplant, it makes her gag. She's crazy about opera, he's a heavy metal freak. He loves to camp, she's afraid of bugs. His favorite TV show is demolition derby, hers is Days of our Lives. She loves to scrapbook, he's into chain saw art. Differences. They make us interesting. True, they sometimes present real challenges. She's Catholic, he's Jewish-how do you raise the kids? He's believes in spanking, she doesn't-how do you discipline the kids? She likes to travel, he's a homebody-how do you spend vacation time? Challenging, yes. Irreconcilable, no.
So at what point do differences really become irreconcilable? It's the moment when you run out of the energy and desire it takes to do the hard work. Admittedly, there are times when you simply can't do more, don't want to do more, and just want out. That's okay. However, except in limited situations, e.g., where one refuses to stop smacking the other one around or refuses to give up side nooky, when a couple splits based on "irreconcilable differences" it really means they simply gave up. Maybe this is a distinction without a difference. But perhaps more couples would go that extra mile if, when contemplating divorce, they ask themselves, "Are our differences really irreconcilable, or are we quitting because we've run out of steam?"
If you find yourself envying your single friends, or you or your sweetie are spending way too much time on thin ice or in the dog house, maybe it's time to put the attitude brakes on and make a U-Turn in the way you think about your still-significant-other. Before you reach the end of your emotional rope, try this: Take a quiet moment to think of times when your sweetheart made you think you're the luckiest person on the planet. Those times don't have to be the stuff of epic romance novels, just sweet times. Maybe it's the day you planted the now fully matured roses, or sat on a bench holding hands enjoying the view, or cooked Thai food together for the first time. Reliving those memories just might give you the oomph to work a tad harder at keeping your marriage together. Do it everyday. It's like vitamins-taking one won't make you healthy, but taking them every day is a step in the right direction. What have you got to lose?
Getting married is easy. Staying together often takes work. But remember this: There's only one thing as good as new love fireworks and it's this: The contented intimacy that comes with time and experience, with having grown old together. Hanging in there. It's worth it.