Trapped in a Loveless Marriage
“In a high-divorce society, not only are more unhappy marriages likely to end in divorce, but in addition, more marriages are likely to become unhappy.”—COUNCIL ON FAMILIES IN AMERICA.
IT HAS been said that much of life’s happiness and much of its misery emanate from the same source—one’s marriage. Indeed, few things in life have the potential to provide as much ecstasy—or as much anguish. As the accompanying box indicates, many couples are having more than their share of the latter.
But divorce statistics reveal only part of the problem. For each marriage that sinks, countless others remain afloat but are stuck in stagnant waters. “We used to be a happy family, but the last 12 years have been horrible,” confided a woman married for more than 30 years. “My husband is not interested in my feelings. He is truly my worst emotional enemy.” Similarly, a husband of nearly 25 years lamented: “My wife has told me that she doesn’t love me anymore. She says that if we can just exist as roommates and each go our separate ways when it comes to leisure time, the situation can be tolerated.”
Of course, some in such dire straits terminate their marriage. For many, however, divorce is out of the question. Why? According to Dr. Karen Kayser, factors such as children, community stigma, finances, friends, relatives, and religious beliefs might keep a couple together, even in a loveless state. “Unlikely to divorce legally,” she says, “these spouses choose to remain with a partner from whom they are emotionally divorced.”
Must a couple whose relationship has cooled resign themselves to a life of dissatisfaction? Is a loveless marriage the only alternative to divorce? Experience proves that many troubled marriages can be saved—not only from the agony of breakup but also from the misery of lovelessness.
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DIVORCE AROUND THE WORLD
• Australia: The divorce rate has nearly quadrupled since the early 1960’s.
• Britain: According to predictions, 4 out of 10 marriages will end in divorce.
• Canada and Japan: Divorce affects about a third of marriages.
• United States: Since 1970, couples getting married have no more than a 50-50 chance of staying together.
• Zimbabwe: Divorce ends about 2 out of every 5 marriages.