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People are Idiots; Marriage is Dumb; and You Are All Going to Get Divorced

If you get married, chances are you probably also going to get divorced. If you get married more than once, those chances go up.

If you think I’m just being negative, here are some stats to back it up:

  • About 40 to 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce.
  • About 40 percent of first marriages end in divorce.
  • Those who have been divorced once and remarry are more likely to get divorced, with as much as 60 percent of second marriages ending in divorce.
  • According to the United Nations, the United States has the third highest divorce rate in the world, with 4.34 divorces per 1,000 people.

But wait there’s more. If you get married, chances are someone’s going to cheat:

  • The experts at Divorce Magazine note that about 45-50 percent of married women and 50-60 percent of married men cheat on their spouses.
  • According to the American Psychological Association (APA), infidelity in the United States accounted for 20-40 percent of divorces.
  • In a Gallup poll, researchers noted that more than half (sixty-two percent) of partners say they would leave their spouse and get a divorce if they found out their spouse was having an affair; 31 percent would stick it out and not divorce.

There’s no such thing as a soul mate. Romanticism is an idiotic construct.  More and more couples find that monogamy is unsustainable. Until recently, gay people weren’t even allowed to marry in this country, much less have a chance to have a bad marriage.

So, yeah, marriage doesn’t always work. People get divorced, feel hurt, move on, marry again, sometimes divorce again…The fact is, we are all, at our core, flawed, annoying, difficult, and complicated. And so is our spouse. And it’s hard to make that work all the time.

But we try. We don’t want to be alone. We want the built-in support system that a marriage supplies, warts and all. Until we don’t want it. Until we can no longer stand the coffee-slurping human sitting across from us at the breakfast table any more.

There’s no easy way to end a marriage. Divorce sucks. Even if it’s a ‘good’ divorce. It’s hard. It just is. And usually we equate it with acrimony. Expense. Being butt hurt. Tearing the family apart, hurting the kids, losing friends and family, giving up your 401K, selling the house, quibbling over who gets what. And on and on.

So. If you’re married, there’s a pretty high likelihood that you’re also going to be divorced at some point. Or at least think about it. I mean, if you’re honest, every married person you know bitches about it and struggles with it to some degree or another, don’t they? Unless they just got married and are still in the ridiculous, rosy, in-denial early days of marriage, or they’ve just become dead inside and carry on because it’s what you do. (No – I jest. I’ve seen happily married people before. I’m nearly certain of it.)

It’s why the divorce industry is a thing. There’s money in it because everyone’s doing it, and it sucks to do, and feelings are hurt, and the legal landscape is tricky and the financial landscape is treacherous, and no one feels comfortable going it alone. There’s guilt and uncertainty and fear and anger and it’s sometimes just easier to hand things over to attorneys and let them settle it for us.

The overall cost of getting divorced in the United States differ from state to state. However, the estimated cost ranges from between $10,000 and $20,000, with an average of $15,000. Per person.That’s a lot of money for a lot of heartache.

But you know what? It doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. You don’t have to hire attorneys to have a good divorce. (I mean, sometimes that’s really the best way forward, but not always. )

There is a better way forward. It’s called mediation.

If you and your spouse and are stuck, if you can’t stay married but don’t want to become enemies with empty bank accounts, consider a different path forward.

Mediation can help diffuse the adversarial nature of conflict, avoid litigation, and support empowering and effective communication. It is quick, affordable, flexible, confidential, and empowering. More and more people are turning away from expensive litigation to this effective process. Learn how to reduce conflict, cost, and stress in your life here.

If you aren’t familiar with the whole concept of mediation, or Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), you’re probably not alone. And if you think I meant meditation instead of mediation, then you’re not alone. Hell, Google thinks that’s what I mean sometimes.

Mediation is actually something that people have been benefitting from for ages. Back in Ancient Greece, a mediator was called proxenetas (which is a word I personally think we need to bring back).

A mediator is an independent, neutral third person who helps two parties use their words and sort out their issues in a reasonable, sensible, and empowering way. Some mediators are also lawyers, and others are also therapists. Some come to mediation from a totally different background (like me).

Here are some benefits to mediation to consider:

  • It’s much quicker that litigating;
  • It’s completely confidential (nothing that happens in mediation enters the court record);
  • It puts the power into the hands of the parties, who get to craft a solution that works for both of them (instead of letting a judge make the ultimate decision);
  • For that reason, it has a much higher rate of compliance.

Mediation is about solutions: So, whether you are thinking about divorce, want to strangle your next door neighbor’s dog, or have a workplace conflict, remember this one simple word: proxenetas.


Liz Merrill

Liz Merrill, B.A., M.M., is a Fort Collins mediator and she brings compassion, intelligence and humor to the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). As the owner and operator of Open Space Mediation, Liz guides individuals and organizations through mediation to outcomes that benefit both parties. She believes that the… MORE >

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