Disagreement is inevitable in a marriage, and a certain amount is healthy. But some differences truly are irreconcilable and no amount of negotiation or couples therapy will save a marriage between two fundamentally incompatible people. Wondering if you should stay or go? Here are some key issues that may help you answer this all important question.
Financial Incompatibility. If you’re a penny-pincher and your spouse believes in “livin’ large,” your home could turn into a battleground. Similarly, financial infidelity – spending money without telling your spouse – is a huge violation of trust. Finding out about a secret credit card or bank account is like discovering your spouse has been having an affair. All major financial transactions should be out in the open. Your marriage should be more important than money.
Untreated Addiction. Besides wreaking havoc on one’s health and finances, addiction is an intimacy-killer. There is always something – alcohol, drugs, gambling – coming between you and your spouse. You owe it to your wife to help her work through her addiction. But if she refuses to get treatment and begins to take the family down with her, you may need to save yourself and your children by ending the marriage.
Opposing child-rearing philosophies. If your spouse believes in authoritarian parenting, and you believe in collaborating with your child, this fundamental difference can create chaos. One parent might feel trumped by an unholy alliance between his spouse and child. Mixed messages will confuse a child about what’s expected of him. And ongoing parental conflict will make a child feel like she’s living in a war zone. While couples with children should do everything they can to save a marriage, a divorce may be more tolerable for the kids than growing up in a thoroughly dysfunctional household.
Incompatible Sexual Practices. If you value monogamy, and your spouse insists on an open marriage, yours may be doomed without some kind of therapy or intervention. Similarly, if one person need whips and chains to feel satisfied, and the other prefers gentle love-making, this woefully ill-matched sexual relationship spells can make both people miserable. Sexual incompatibility can turn couples into strangers and send one or both into the arms of another.
Religious Incompatibility. Many people take a renewed interest in their religion when become parents. If you didn’t decide what faith your children were going to be raised in before you had them, you may be facing some serious issues. Similarly, if one person converted under duress, he may not be supportive of the other person’s religious practices. It’s possible to raise a child in two faiths, but only with communication, support, and reciprocity. Feeling marginalized, or opposing your spouse and child’s religion can tear a marriage apart.
Incompatible Life Goals. You don’t have to want all the same things, but you do have to agree on the big ones. Individual pursuits are okay as long as they don’t override the coupleship. For example, it’s fine to take a yearly weeklong fishing vacation with the guys. But deciding to travel the world alone for a year is probably not.
Meddlesome In-Laws. Marital boundaries must be drawn at the start of a marriage. In-laws should not be dictating how the house is decorated and the children are raised. If you’re the one with meddlesome parents, it’s your responsibility to set boundaries. Your spouse needs to feel like you’re married to her, not your mother.
People change. It’s important for a marriage to have enough flexibility to accommodate personal growth — and enough boundaries to maintain a committed partnership.
Have questions about the legal aspects of deciding to divorce, including understanding your options for child custody, your home, asset division, and other related issues? Our attorneys can help you weigh your options. Please contact us to schedule your confidential consultation.