Recently Huffington Post’s Linda Esposito, a practicing psychotherapist in Los Angeles, identified the reasons that most couples stay in angry marriages rather than filing divorce papers. Surprisingly, it’s a phenomenon that is quite common. You may even know someone, who is always fighting with their spouse, and you don’t understand why they don’t just leave. Esposito’s article is well worth a read for the 11 reasons that she highlights, but one stood out in particular.
Whenever there is ongoing conflict, there is underlying agreement.
According to Esposito, “Adults are willing participants in partnerships. And as unhealthy as relationships may be, there’s ulterior gains for both parties. Common reasons cited for staying include: the kids, finances, time invested, the shame of splitting up, religious or cultural reasons, etc., but the bigger issue is believing you deserve to be maltreated.”
While on the surface, Esposito’s comment might seem a little “blame the victim,” there’s a lot of truth in what she’s saying. It doesn’t mean that if you’re caught in this situation you deserve what you get. Rather, it’s more indicative of how habits tend to trap us into a way of thinking about who we are and what we deserve from life. When it’s all you’re used to, it starts to become “just the way life is” and the thought of filing divorce forms may not even seem like a possibility.
Break the cycle.
Luckily, there is a way out. According to Esposito, “once you internalize the message that you don’t deserve emotional abuse, the stage is set for change.”
“You will eventually develop a healthy ego, and learn to say no,” she explains. “In time you will realize that no amount of social status, material possessions, or external pressure justifies your unhappiness.”
No one can blame you for having difficulty breaking old habits. And over time, for better or worse, habits form in a relationship. Since we’re programmed to look at our relationships as representing stability, it’s challenging to leave behind what isn’t working even if we know better. But it becomes much easier once you’re able to pinpoint the causes of your unhappiness. If it’s the relationship itself, then it’s time to make a change. That could mean counseling or simply filing an online divorce through our site. Regardless, best of luck to you as you work to escape an angry relationship.