There has been a lot of press coverage on couples staying together for economic reasons that were planning to divorce prior to the recession, including Anderson Cooper’s piece on CNN. I even received a call from New York Times reporter on this subject.
Truth be told, I am consulting with a couple who are sleeping in separate rooms and claim to be together for their son, but I surmise that the real reason is economics. I did a session with their fourteen-year-old son and he is completely dismayed as to why his parents are still together.
It got me thinking; is there an upside to people hesitating to divorce these days?
Yes, in a perfect world you shouldn’t live with someone you don’t love anymore, but, perhaps, these challenging times provide a way to rewrite the contract so that you live in a more tribal or community way rather than an ideal we have of romantic love.
Two cases from my practice illustrate how the current economic climate can help or hinder people staying together.
In one case, a couple came to me separately and, although the husband wanted marriage counseling, the wife did not. She was not in love with her husband anymore and had previously had an affair that he knew about. Her reason for staying was their child but as therapy progressed, it became clear there was more here. She knew the value of their home had diminished drastically and was concerned about what she would end up receiving in a property settlement, given the current economic decline. Her solution was to avoid her husband at night, spending hours at her computer watching YouTube videos. My treatment approach with this person was to work on her boredom at her job and help her discover a passion she could turn into her vocation of destiny so that money was no longer her consideration for staying.
In the second case, the couple I was seeing was fighting a lot because of money stressors, but it was clear to me that, although they had threatened each other with divorce, there was still a lot of love left in this marriage. So, we worked on downsizing their lifestyle and being more creative with their finances, spending more time at home with each other and their children and, soon enough, the fighting diminished significantly.
So, as you can see, change and crisis management as it applies to marriage can sometimes mean changing the contract and sometimes it is time to revoke the contract and trust that with greater authenticity, your life will thrive as a single person.
Dr. Toni Galardi is a licensed psychotherapist, columnist, and author of her new book The LifeQuake Phenomeonon: How to Thrive (not just survive) in Times of Personal And Global Upheaval.For more information, visit www.lifequake.net.