This guest article from YourTango was written by Barbara Becker Holstein.
Janet and Mike were headed for divorce. So were Sally and Jim. Janet slept in the guest bedroom. She hardly spoke to Mike, unless it was a necessity.
Both had hired lawyers. Sally and Jim also had their divorce lawyers lined up. They hadn’t enjoyed each other’s company in years. Talking led to screaming and both were sick of the fights.
How many infidelities had taken place between these two couples? Surprisingly, the answer was none — no one had acted out in an extramarital affair. Yet all four people — two very different marriages, with different styles and personalities — all were miserable enough to get divorced.
But how come?
Let’s look first at Janet and Mike. They met on a summer cruise and had a whirlwind love affair. Back home, living 300 miles apart, they were determined to marry and be together as soon as possible. Janet left her small town and her blossoming career as an event planner to move to Mike’s city. Since he already owned a home next door to his parent’s home, they decided to keep his home.
Romantic feelings and great sex soon gave way to problems resulting from being so close to in-laws. Everyone felt free to visit at any time. Privacy was rare. Janet craved company, as she was lonely and unable to relocate professionally… but not the company of her mother-in-law.
Mike felt disappointed that Janet wasn’t much of a homemaker, discounting all of her grievances that he had already decorated his house, planted his garden-his way, and she had no way to make the place her own.
Long story short: the marriage simply wasn’t working. After a failed effort to have a baby, the gulf was even wider. Divorce seemed to be only way out. Mike wanted peace again in his own home. Janet wanted to move back to her town and regain pride in herself.
Now let’s look at Sally and Jim. They were high school sweethearts and married young. Two children occupied their twenties and thirties. By the time they were 40, the kids were out of the house, one married, the other in college.
The empty nest didn’t feel good to either of them. Jim, very much a sports dad, really missed all the athletics he did with his sons. Sally was a devoted parent also and missed cooking for the boys and their friends, a full house of laughing kids, and the natural friendships that happened through the PTA, soccer teams, etc. Somewhat shy, now that the kids were gone, she found it hard to continue their social life.
Time together became empty for both of them. They blamed each other for all sorts of things: from having nothing to look forward to, to disappointing sex, boring weekends and problems at work. Both exploded easily, and anger and rage led to constant arguing. For the sake of their health and peace of mind, they agreed that divorce seemed to be the only solution.
So, here are two examples where the couples simply could no longer get along. And no one had the energy for a lover, which is often the case in failed marriages. The marriage no longer works, but both spouses are still invested in the dynamics that are not working. They repeat the battles over and over again, even throughout the divorce.
It is possible that with marriage counseling, both couples could have saved their marriages. But not everyone has the time, energy, interest or finances to go for the help that might have worked. Sometimes divorce is the solution.
Don’t think there is an affair behind every divorce. The real story may be much less of a romance-novel-gone-astray and more a lot of screaming, yelling and sleeping in separate bedrooms.
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