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Why do people stay in bad marriages?

Divorce is hard but staying a bad marriage may actually be harder.

So, why do people do it?

Experts say that they often hear a couple of the same reasons from people who are clinging to the empty shell of a marriage:

1. There's worry about how the children will react.

This issue comes up frequently from people whose own parents divorced when they were kids. They may remember all the confusion, fighting and trauma of their own experiences with their parents' divorce. Naturally, they don't want to put their children through the same experience.

However, all that fighting and trauma isn't a necessary part of divorce. If both parents focus on their priorities and keep the children in mind, conflicts can be minimized. Exposing the kids to a respectful divorce is probably far better than letting them grow up in a household where the parents have come to despise each other. Getting a divorce teaches the kids by example that sometimes you have to make a difficult choice in order to pursue happiness. Staying married delivers the message that personal happiness doesn't matter. That's probably not the message you want them to hear.

2. There are financial problems that make divorce difficult.

This issue covers everything from an unwillingness to split the assets to debt that is barely manageable in a dual-income household. High-asset couples are no more immune to money concerns in a divorce than low-asset couples.

Money issues aren't insurmountable. They do, however, require a little planning in order to handle. It may be time to go back to school if you don't have a degree, start work if you've been a stay-at-home parent or consult a financial adviser about how to handle your debt. It may just mean giving up a certain standard of living and learning to be happier on less.

If you and your spouse have a lot of assets, it may mean accepting that you'll have to divide some of them up or sell them off -- but that's still better than being stuck in a loveless marriage.

Experts recommend that you take a hard look at your marriage. If the "rough patch" you're going through has lasted two years or longer, it's time to seek professional help. If counseling can't put the marriage back together, then it's time to look for a divorce attorney.

Source:, "Top misguided reasons to stay in a bad marriage," Susan Pease, LCSW, CADC, accessed May 10, 2017

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