I have two friends who have been married for over a decade, and who are now desperately trying to claw their way out of the shambles of their marriage. The marriage collapsed over a year ago under the weight of false expectations, personal disappointment, and the sort of general dissatisfaction that will make anyone lose interest in the other. The past year, besides being a glacially progressing emotional hell, has also brought on a significant amount of job and financial insecurity for them both. They have children, a sizable mortgage, and the sort of financial obligations and entanglements that would make a swift and tidy divorce an expensive prospect. While all (or at least most) of their friends are sitting on the sidelines advocating for a divorce, they remain married and living together, with very little momentum, or movement, towards the “big D.”
Whether this inertia is prompted, or wholly informed, by financial concerns is anyone’s guess, but according to Judge Michele Lowrance, author of The Good Karma Divorce, many unhappy couples are slipping into a sort of “divorce limbo” because they simply cannot afford to take the final step. When I am forced to think about it, if my happy marriage were to go south and become unsustainable, I know that separation and divorce would be financially devastating, maybe enough for us to hang on to a fledgling partnership way beyond the point of comfort, or reason.
While I am somewhat loath to promote the type of book that is The Good Karma Divorce, (Lowrance, while being a bona fide judge is also an entertainment lawyer – you fill in the blanks) it seems to hold some value and make a notable contribution to the contemporary discussion about the financial and emotional disincentives toward divorce. Below is a video of a CBS Early Show segment, which aired on the subject:
It goes without saying that divorce, contrary to the riot of tabloid headlines concerning celebrities, is never an easy road to venture down. Besides the expenses and financial considerations, the emotional toll is likely just the thing that will keep you licking your wounds for some time. And even the most amicable divorce (lacking custody battles and property rights) will cost you a considerable amount in legal fees and such. So, is divorce worth shelving until the financial forecast improves? Should emotional concerns trump financial concerns in dealing with the longevity of a partnership? Is there ever a really good reason to remain in a loveless relationship, and if so, is there a way to make a broken marriage last as more of a partnership than a relationship?