Divorce And Hurricanes

I had the chance to talk with a woman who used to live in one of the coastal areas destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. She enjoyed living in her condo overlooking the water but a few years ago she moved to another state when she began having doubts about the safety of the area. Staying seemed too much of a gamble, one she didn’t want to take. She has family and friends in the area, some still unaccounted for, who either could not move elsewhere or who did not want to leave the area.

Just as hurricanes don’t suddenly crash upon coastlines, most marriages don’t end without plenty of advance warnings. Just as hurricanes that change course and blow themselves out can create a false sense of security so can husbands and wives be lulled into thinking their marriage is safe from divorce because their spouse has finally stopped carping about things that upset them.

Living in a flood zone or in a city that is below sea level is a dangerous gamble. It may take decades, but odds are at least one storm won’t blow itself out or turn and spend its fury elsewhere.

Men and women stay in unhappy marriages for many reasons: “for the children,” because their religion doesn’t permit divorce, because they are afraid of the financial consequences of divorce, because of family pressures, because they are terrified of life after divorce. Any number of reasons may keep a spouse from saying “It’s over, I’m leaving.”

When a hurricane approaches, there is time to evacuate from the more dangerous areas in the storm’s path but not everyone leaves. Some people don’t want to abandon their property. Some people don’t think the storm will be “that bad.” Some people, having gone through evacuation for previous storms only to have the storm turn and go elsewhere, don’t believe this storm will actually come their way.

My first husband was stunned when I told him I was divorcing him. Even though I’d told him many times over the years how unhappy I was with many aspects of our life together, he had an “you always say this but then you get over it” attitude. Finally, instead of making another attempt to “fix” the marriage, I gathered strength, and sat down with him one last time. He thought this would be a repeat of past “talks” but this time it was too late for damage control. Our marriage was over.

Could our marriage have continued had he taken me seriously years before? I don’t think so. The marriage was build on a very weak foundation, one that was bound to crumble in time, much like condos built in storm zones and cities built below sea level.

Do you pay attention to warning signs? Or do you (did you) gamble that marital storms will blow themselves out without doing any major damage to your marriage?