Does the Bad Outweigh the Good in Your Marriage?

Courtesy Getty Images

Have you spent years investing time, effort and energy in your marriage? Is the only return you’ve gotten on your investment ambivalence? Does it seem that no matter what you do, the bad outweighs the good in your marriage?

It may sound cynical, but you may need to make a list of pros and cons and decide whether your marriage is worth any more investment from you. If there are a few good things about your marriage, but they are overshadowed by negatives it is time to decide whether to divorce and move on with your life.

I received an email from a woman whose marriage was a mess. She conveyed to me that her husband yelled and screamed constantly. That she kept secrets from him out of fear of his reaction. She walks on eggshells and measures every word out of fear of his verbal abuse.

Add to that his drinking,  his cheating, controlling all the money and the fact that he is now verbally abusing their 15-year-old son and I had to wonder why this woman was choosing to stay instead of leave and protect herself and her son.

I’m fully aware that women will stay in a bad marriage for the financial security and the fear associated with the idea of being on their own after years of marriage. It is not easy to leave if you don’t know where you will go or how you will live. I know that men stay in bad marriages for the sake of their relationship with their children.

In other words, people stay stuck in a bad marriage due to fear of what will happen if they leave. the reasons people stay are as individual as the problems in their marriage. None of us marry with the goal of living the rest of our lives in an unhappy marriage. Yet, many of us allow fear to keep us from taking the steps we need to to find happiness, either within our marriage or on our own.

So, I challenge you to sit down and make a list of pros and cons. Once that list is done if the cons outweigh the pros do something other than live with the idea that you are stuck. That may mean you need to get you and your spouse into intensive marital counseling to deal with the marital problems. Or, it may mean you coming to terms with the fact that your marriage can't be saved.

If fear of what will happen should you divorce is keeping you in a bad marriage, you need a plan. Planning for how you will deal with what lies ahead will take some of the fear out of the situation and help motivate you take positive steps in the right direction. 

Make a list of what you need to do to prepare for a divorce. Also, make a list of what steps you need to take to make sure you can survive financially once you're divorced. If your marriage is abusive, contact your local abuse shelter and enlist their help in planning your escape from the abuse.

When the bad consistently outweighs the good in a marriage, regardless of what kind of effort you've put into repairing the problem, you can take steps to make sure you don't live a lifetime of unhappy coupledom.