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What Some People Regret About Their Divorce

Even though half of all marriages end in divorce, that doesn't mean a lot of people don't regret getting one.

Marriage

If you're someone who's read, even a couple of my articles on here, you probably already know that I'm a marriage life coach. What you might not be aware of, though, is I'm one who specializes in reconciling divorces.

And why is that my particular niche? There are a few reasons. One, I am a child who experienced two divorces while growing up. Parents, if you don't think that divorce affects your kids, even well into their adulthood, I encourage you to read this piece in its entirety. Another reason is because, although it's not discussed nearly enough, from a biblical perspective, the Bible has a lot to say on the topic (Malachi 2:14-16, Matthew 19:1-12, I Corinthians 7:10-11, for starters). Because marriage is such a profound spiritual union to me, that's another reason why I strive to do all that I can to help couples not divorce or reconcile once they do. Still, another reason is actually found in the title of today's piece. There are countless couples that I've worked with who, were unhappy in their marriage, got divorced and then, whether it was a year or 10 years later, they ended up totally regretting it. In fact, there are studies to support that between 32-50 percent of divorced couples end up wishing that they had made another decision at some point in their lives.

The old folks used to say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. My mother used to say that discernment prevents experience from being your teacher. There's a wise saying that goes something like, "If you've been waiting for a sign, this is it." If you're married and a part of you has been wondering if it's time to throw in the towel, before you do, here are some things that you should strongly consider before signing on the dotted line; some things that many divorced people wish they had thought about more, before they ended their own relationship.

REGRET #1: How Much They Saw Divorce As an Option

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One of the reasons why I no longer have the desire to have a boyfriend again is because, I believe, that way too many people date like they are already married. They get together, give their all, break-up and move on to the next person, only to repeat the pattern. Before long, sometimes without even noticing it, they start to process marriage like they do a dating relationship by taking on the mindset of, "Welp. If it doesn't work out, I'll just break up with my spouse like I have with everyone else." To me, marriage way too sacred to take on that casual of an approach. For me, if I promised forever, I want to do my best to mean it (an interesting read from a spiritual perspective is "Until Death Do Us Part — For Real").

That said, we all know that divorce is an option in the sense that it is something that we all can choose to do. But when I've counseled some people who are divorced, one of the regrets that they shared with me is them ending their marriage was an option that they focused on way too much. Before long, not making their marriage work became the goal far more than trying to stay together was; the vows that they said to their partner on their wedding day no longer held very much weight. Why? Basically because, since they knew that they could get out, they were obsessed with doing just that.

I often say that I wonder how many people would get married if divorce was illegal; if dissolving the union actually wasn't an option. Either way, the power of our thoughts is what sets things into motion. If you're always approaching your marriage like you can get out at any time, that could end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy; one that has ramifications that you very well may not be prepared to take on.

(A cool video that addresses this very point is "We Saved Our Marriage - Tips to Saving our Marriage - Divorce is Not an Option").

REGRET #2: How the Divorce Affected Their Children. Including Adult Children.

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Something that is truly like fingernails on a chalkboard to me is when I'm talking to someone who is on the verge of ending their marriage, I bring up their kids, and they say something along the lines of, "People divorce all of the time and kids survive." Geeze. I'm hoping that you want your children to do more than just "survive" in this life. Something that's even more fascinating is when they say, "I'm the product of a divorce and I came out OK." Perhaps you did, but there are also plenty of studies to support that a part of the reason why you may have dissolved your union is because your parents divorced when you were a kid. Kind of ironic, isn't it?

I was just having a conversation with someone who recently divorced. He admitted that a part of the reason why his marriage didn't last is because of all of the unresolved PTSD that he had from when his parents broke up. The scars from their divorce resulted in him not trusting people, not knowing how to resolve conflict in a healthy way and never fully letting his guard down with his wife. He's not alone. You can read articles like "10 Common Dating Struggles Children Of Divorce Face", "The Long-Term Impact Of Parental Divorce On Young Adult's Relationships" and "Divorce Hurts Children, Even Grown Ones", and studies like "Effects of Parental Divorce on Marital Commitment and Confidence" to know that the after-effects of a divorce can truly be long-lasting. Which is just one more reason to think long and hard before making the decision to get one.

REGRET #3: The Fact That They Divorced Without Going to Therapy First

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As a marriage life coach, this is the one that I can't seem to figure out. Marriage is serious. So is divorce. I don't get why you would get into one without some counseling or get out of one without some therapy. I once read an article that only one-fourth of divorcing couples have ever sought out any type of professional help. I'd venture to say that a part of that is pride, another part is fear and, an even greater part is couples think that their marriage is beyond repair. Again, my focus is on reconciling divorces and there have been divorced couples who have come back together after, as Iyanla Vanzant says, "doing the work". You simply need to be open to finding someone who has the tips, tools and commitment to help you and yours stay together.

One reconciled couple told me that they realize the reason why they had such a hard time in their marriage is because the premarital counseling that they got totally sucked. It was so bad that they went into their marriage extremely ill-prepared. And, because they got a divorce without seeking therapy, they didn't realize that their marriage could be saved. It took three years of us all working together, but they did eventually get married again. They've been together, for the second time, for six years now.

Therapy isn't easy but it can be what saves your marriage. At the very least, give it a shot. That way, you'll know that you have it all that you could. Without therapy, you could always end up wondering what could've been—had you went.

REGRET #4: The Financial Toll That Divorce Has Taken on Them

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When it comes to staying married, some folks claim that it's cheaper to keep her—or him. It might sound totally insensitive or even a little crass, but that doesn't mean that there isn't some truth to that. A Forbes article and one on Money Under 30's site both state that an average divorce can cost you as much as $20,000 between hiring attorneys, divvying up property, taking time off from work to handle the details of the divorce, working through tax issues and getting therapy for you and your kids. Not to mention how the stress and strain of dissolving the marriage could cause you to slack on your bills and ultimately affect your credit score.

One client that I was working with for over a year-and-a-half, we had to stop because a divorce that he didn't want had taken such a toll on his income that he simply couldn't afford to pay for his sessions anymore. During our final meeting, he said, "I thought a quickie divorce would save me money. It cost me more than I ever would've imagined."

Staying together just so you won't lose money isn't a good enough reason. But getting out without factoring what it could do to your financial state is something that you should never do. Ignoring the financial toll could end up costing you. BIG TIME.

REGRET #5: How Their Unrealistic Expectations of Marriage Led to Divorce

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Whenever a couple tells me that they want to end their marriage and I ask them why, oftentimes they say something along the lines of, "It just wasn't what I expected marriage to be." When I ask them to break down what their expectations were, sometimes they will say something like, "I thought it would be like my grandparents' marriage" or "I thought it would be a fairy tale" or—and this one is super popular—"I didn't think it would be this hard." First up, you and your spouse are not you and your grandparents; they have their journey and you have yours. Plus, I'm willing to bet good money that if you knew all of what went down in their marriage, your eyes would buck open wide a few times. Second, nobody's marriage is a fairy tale. Fairy tales are make-believe. And, on that last point, that's a part of the reason why I think it is so important for a couple who is considering marriage to get into some serious premarital counseling. I'm not talking about after they get engaged either. I mean even before that (so that you're actually listening and not treating your sessions like a mere formality).

If all that you think marriage consists of is "having a non-stop sleepover with your best friend", about three months in, you're gonna be in for a real shock, if not a series of huge disappointments. I personally think that a part of what makes marriage so challenging for a lot of people is, not only are you learning how to share so much of your life with another individual, you're also learning some things about yourself—good, bad and ugly—that you probably wouldn't learn any other way. Sometimes the mirror that marriage holds in front of you makes you want to turn away and leave the relationship altogether.

If you're expecting your marriage to be like someone else's or the reenactment of a scene from your favorite rom-com all of the time, you definitely are a candidate for divorce. Marriage is beautiful. It's also one of the hardest things that you'll ever do. If you're not willing to accept that, avoid the regret of getting divorced by not getting married in the first place. Better to be real about what marriage is than go into it in a state of denial, divorce and end up with regrets.

REGRET #6: The Fact That a Divorce Isn’t Necessarily a “Solution” to Anything

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If you are being subjected to abuse—any kind of abuse—that is one thing. But if you're thinking of getting a divorce because you feel like there are problems that only ending your marriage can resolve, I'm going to challenge you a bit on that. One of the reasons why second marriages have a 67 percent divorce rate and third marriages have a whopping 73 percent divorce rate is because a lot of people will get a divorce and then hop into another marriage without taking the time to do some serious self-reflecting. In other words, they will file for divorce from their original partner thinking that their spouse was the problem when the reality is it was probably a whole lot more complex than that.

A female client that I once had told me that she regretted divorcing her husband because she thought that he was simply the wrong fit. But after getting back into the world of dating, she saw that there was some idealism, selfishness and impulsiveness that she had within her own self that she needed to deal with. In hindsight, she wished she had been willing to look at those things while she was still married; perhaps her marriage could've been spared if she had.

I don't know too many divorced people who claim that divorce minimized the problems that they had in their life. Oftentimes what happens is they simply exchange one set of stressful issues for another. This is just one more reason to think long and hard before actually filing for a divorce.

REGRET #7: The Way They Underestimated Life After Divorce

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Divorce is certainly no laughing matter, but one of my friends did have me cracking up when, after going out on a few dates following his divorce, he asked me, "What the hell is super gonorrhea? Y'all got some new STDs out here since I was single?" Yes sir. Yes we do. My friend is off the chain, so I'm hoping that he didn't find out that little not-so-fun-fact the hard way. But what he said is a great way to wrap all of this up.

I've had divorced people tell me that they regret ending their marriage because they don't like the dating scene, sex seems way too complicated now, making connections is difficult—the list goes on and on. I've even had some folks admit that the freedom that they thought would come with being unmarried doesn't compare to the security that they totally underestimated within their marital dynamic.

To be fair, I'm not saying that every divorced person that I've encountered hates that they ended their union. Some have left and never looked back. But I do think that those stories are told way more than those who do wish that they had taken a different approach to their marriage. It should also go on record that some people look back and wish that they weren't so quick to get out—that they had tried a little harder to make things work.

Again, marriage is serious—and divorce is serious. Neither should be entered into lightly. In a world where it seems like people change their spouses like they change their clothes, just try and be sober-minded and as knowledgeable as possible before getting into or out of a marriage. Life is short. It's best to have as few regrets as possible. Amen? Amen.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

What Should You Do If You Feel Like You Married The Wrong Person?

6 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Ending Your Marriage

Chrisette Michele Says She Got Married Before She Was Ready Because It Seemed Like The 'Adult' Thing To Do

How Do Men Really Deal With Divorce?

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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