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Our society has built up a harmful stigma around divorced people. Even though 50% of marriages end in divorce, we still stigmatize those who end up getting a divorce. Because of this, it can be difficult for those who have gotten divorced to reflect on what caused the divorce and how much each party contributed to the end of the marriage. If you’re getting divorced, it’s important to understand that you are not alone. Many good people get divorced. Divorce does not make you a failure or a bad person.  

Can Divorce Be One Person’s Fault? 

Yes, divorce can be all one person’s fault—but that’s not normally the situation. In situations where one person is abusive to the spouse and/or the children, the non-abusive spouse may have no choice but leaving. Or, in situations where one party is suffering from substance abuse or addiction and the other party needs to move on for their own mental health and the safety of the family.  However, in most situations, the divorce is usually caused by problems on both sides. So while it is possible for a divorce to be entirely one person’s fault, that’s not likely the case in most situations. 

Problems with Taking too Much Responsibility 

There’s such a thing as taking too much responsibility for the divorce, and this can lead to feelings of low self-esteem, insecurity, and low self-worth. A person who takes too much responsibility may think that their ex-spouse did nothing wrong and that they must be a real lowlife to throw away such an amazing spouse. The problem with idealizing your ex is that you may end up feeling like you threw away something perfect and internalize this failure. Instead of thinking, “I failed to make the marriage work,” you may end up thinking, “I am a failure.” There’s also harm in failing to acknowledge your ex’s short-comings because you may end up getting into a relationship with someone else who has the same problems—after all, humans are pattern recognizing creatures that gravitate toward the familiar. 

Problems with Taking Not Enough Responsibility 

If you brought issues into a marriage that contributed to the divorce, there’s a good chance you’re going to bring those issues into your next relationship if you haven’t worked through those issues. After all, it’s really hard to fix something if you don’t believe it’s a problem in the first place. You may feel like your spouse left you for no reason at all. And if they can leave for no reason, so can someone else. This thought pattern may cause an abandonment wound to form, which can make it difficult to get close to people and be emotionally intimate with others. If you believe that your spouse left you for no reason at all, you may be scared to let down your walls in a relationship—after all, what if they leave you for no reason at all? 

A Divorce Epidemic and Stigma 

We have a huge stigma around divorce: it’s as if somehow people who get divorce are bad people and damaged goods. It’s like our society can’t fathom that good people aren’t always good spouses. Because of this stigma, it can be particularly difficult for some people to take responsibility for any part of the divorce. However, should we really be surprised that our society has a divorce rate that hovers around 50%? Maintaining marriage isn’t generally part of a high-school curriculum and most people don’t take classes on that in college either. Complicating the situation, there’s no guarantee that any two people who marry will have had parents that helped them nurture and develop the skills necessary to maintain a marriage. There’s no shame in not knowing how to maintain a marriage, or having a failed marriage—statistically speaking, half of marriages will end in divorce. 

Taking the Right Amount of Accountability 

In order to truly understand what went wrong in your marriage, it may be a good idea to meet with a qualified mental health professional to brainstorm strategies to reflect on any short-comings you may have had the contributed to the divorce, and heal from the shame and sadness that comes with the divorce process. It’s not easy to go through the divorce process—especially if you’re going through it alone, or taking too much/ not enough responsibility for the part you played. However, meeting with a licensed mental health professional can help you reflect on your marriage and make positive changes in the future. 

When You’re Considering Divorce 

If you’re considering divorce and you need an attorney to guide you through the process, contact CoilLaw today to set up your initial consultation. 


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