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DIANE MEDVED: Why No One Regrets Getting Divorced

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by Diane Medved
“Why No One Regrets his Divorce” seems a peculiar statement coming from the author of Don’t Divorce. Isn’t the basis of my book that lots of people regret their divorces, and so there’s good reason to prevent it?
However, I’ve learned that already-divorced people–especially those for whom the experience is still fresh and painful–react strongly even to the two simple words on my book jacket.

Within a single Divorce Recovery Group, some get defensive: “You can’t tell me what to do. You have no idea what I’ve been going through.”

Some get angry: “How dare you foist your values on me!”

Some get irritated, motivated by guilt: “I had an opportunity, and I took it, because that was what I needed right then.”

And others are more sanguine: “Maybe I could have made my marriage work, but if I’d stayed, I never would have gotten to the point where I am now.”

Even people whose spouses dumped them, who suffer years of disorientation and emotional agony, tend to look back and know that their ordeal was required because of deep flaws of their partner, perhaps abetted by themselves.

Here’s the punchline: After the fact, hardly anyone regrets his divorce because psychologically healthy people take lemons and make lemonade. They look at the psychological growth they’ve experienced, and realize that the path to that growth may have been grueling, but the outcome is a higher awareness, a better place.

The big “however,” though, is that going through the divorce, and in most cases, the prelude to the divorce, was horrible. It is to minimize the miserable prelude and eliminate destructive and demoralizing divorce–for the partners and a host of friends and family, and most of all the children–that I wrote Don’t Divorce.

I wrote Don’t Divorce for married people who might need a boost through a rough patch so they can repair problems and keep going.

One of the most encouraging parts of my book describes research on spouses who rate themselves as “unhappily married.” When surveyed again five years later, two-thirds in one study, and three-fourths in another, say they’re “happily” or “very happily” married. In other words, if couples just have the strength to resist the pro-divorce pressures around them, and affirm their commitment, they’re likely to rebound and find satisfaction in their marriages once again.

Couples in the midst of strife or stress also need to know what they’re in for if they do break up, because that can also motivate them to rebuild the relationship in which they already have a huge investment.

I’d be worried about already-divorced people who wallowed in the woe of divorce for extended periods of time. Certainly if abuse, addiction or abandonment occur, a divorce may be appropriate and inevitable–and even then usually brings sorrow and mourning. But then there’s healing, and an important part of that is to view the path to your present state as worthwhile, because it’s from this new vantage that you can envision a brighter, more aware future.

Recently I gave a talk in Los Angeles, and an attendee approached me afterward. “You may not remember me,” he noted after introducing himself. “I was your client for marital counseling about 20 years ago.  I think about you often,” he said, “because though my ex and I did get a divorce, it was you who taught me how to be a better husband, and I’ve been applying it with my current wife for 18 happy years.” He was grateful because though it had been too late to salvage his first marriage, he turned a difficult episode into a pathway to development.

My message to married couples is that you don’t have to suffer a divorce to find happiness. Instead of applying energy to dismantling your marriage, put the same amount of effort into fixing your divisions. The results will mean the world to your children, and can make your world one with far less to regret.

Diane Medved, Ph.D. is a psychologist and author of six books, including Saving Childhood: Protecting Our Children from the National Assault on Innocence (with Michael Medved,) and Don’t Divorce: Powerful Arguments for Saving and Revitalizing Your Marriage (March, 2017), available at bookstores and DianeMedved.com.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Clark Magnuson  •  May 19, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    Someone who was divorced with kids told me about it.
    The details of bi weekly shared custody were stipulated by the court.
    A car would park in front of a house at 8:30 p.m. on Friday evening.
    A child with an overnight bag would come running out to the car.
    Later I noticed a car every Friday across the street from my house.
    The child had to be drug out to the car, screaming.

  2. John Iver Mulak  •  May 19, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    This is such a thoughtful and intelligent article! I can understand you may have received some hostile reaction to the title of your book, but you have responded well here!
    I believe that your book and your thoughts on the subject of divorce are important contributions to discourse on the topic and can help sway people in the right direction. I am considering sending it to some friends who are struggling in their marriage. I hesitate, because I don't want to offend anyone. But hopefully it will be seen as a loving and caring gesture. God bless both you and Michael in your work!
    Sincerely, JM

  3. Bruce Sallan  •  May 27, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    As always, Diane, you share much wisdom. My marriage is still rocky but we are working on it. We've found a really interesting therapist. He has given us much to think about and many tools to work with.

    Come VISIT!

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