Rick Reynolds, LCSW
by Rick Reynolds, LCSW
Founder & President, Affair Recovery

Should I Get a Divorce? Am I Being Naive?

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During EMS Weekend, we won't shame the unfaithful spouse nor blame the betrayed spouse. What we will do is pair you with a small community of other couples and an expert therapist - all of whom have experienced infidelity firsthand - as well as provide comprehensive resources to help you kick-start your healing journey.

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I love premarital counseling. It's so easy. I don't mean to be sarcastic or condescending here, but I'm sure you'll get my drift as I continue on. The reason premarital counseling is so easy, is that you've got two people believing they have found the one person in the entire human race who can truly make them happy. They are definitely NOT asking the question, "At what point should I get a divorce?" They are consumed with bliss and willing to make the necessary sacrifice just to have the opportunity to travel the road of life with this cherished one. Together, they will conquer the world and experience true love and all that life has to offer.

It really makes little difference what you say to these couples, because they're going to do what they want anyway, and the best you can do is help as much as you are able while tying a knot and holding on. You can throw warnings at potential problems, but there is a slim chance they will heed your advice. In their minds, they've already figured it out, and they are going to do what they want and what their emotions want. There's no hint of a future in which they might be coping with divorce. At best, you can warn them of possible concerns and apparent difficulties, but once they are married, reality most certainly will set in.

Romance Is Easy (Early On)

Dating, engagement, and courtship are all based on a paradigm called romanticism. Romanticism is always about two people who are not together but are longing to be. It's about wanting what you don't have and the sacrifices you're willing to make to get it.

Marriage, on the other hand, is based on a system called oneness. The paradigm of oneness is somewhat like tying two cats' tails together and then instructing them to get to the water bowl or to go out and catch supper. In marriage, it's no longer about wanting what I don't have; now, I'm connected to another at the hip, and we've got to figure out how to navigate life and life's incredible challenges.

As I always say, "It's far easier to want what you don't have than to have who you don't want," and at some point, during marriage, the latter comes to pass.

Our inability to comprehend this reality sets couples up for painful disappointment. Frequently, marriage just doesn't meet our own expectations. I've always thought the best way to explain this reality is a baby in utero. If I could speak to an unborn child, I could try to explain what life is going to be like on the other side—how life is different and how there are these things called air and light, what it means to breathe. "Breathe?" the child might ask, "what is that?" My explanations might leave a lot to be desired. How can I explain the reality of breathing to a person who has never felt the wind or experienced anything beyond the safe warm fluid within the womb?

In the same way, our best attempts at explaining marriage are lacking. We can try, but ultimately those entering the marital union are usually pretty naïve about what they are about to experience.

Divorce and Infidelity

should i get a divorce

I believe the only naiveté that exceeds that of those who are entering a marriage is the naiveté we exhibit as we exit a marriage when coping with divorce. Still, the question looms: "Should I get a divorce?"

Why we think we understand the dynamics of coping with divorce or that we will be able to easily navigate those difficult and life-changing waters baffles me. If you don't believe me, then go visit a divorce recovery class. There, you will see some people who are really hurting and are trying to pick up the pieces and move on. Not only are they dealing with the pain, but they're now dealing with even more issues, like dating after divorce. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever seen individuals in as much pain as those going through the ripping-apart that occurs as a marriage ends.

It hurts themselves, their spouses, and their children. It's just not easy, and it is certainly not what most people anticipate when they decide to divorce. Much like those entering the union of marriage, those exiting this union often seem incapable of hearing and/or understanding the reality that awaits them. As a counselor, I can try to warn. I can scream, "Bridge out ahead!" but few will listen.

Our pain has a way of blinding us or deafening us to hearing warnings of what life will soon be like.

Some listen and really go to great lengths to ponder what awaits them should they take this route. Others are dead set on ending the union and are not always acting out of wisdom. They don't even ask the question, "Should I get a divorce?"... they just act.

What Should You Do?

Are you considering your options during this difficult time? If you're contemplating ending your marriage, please remember, you may be moving to the next level of naiveté. I would encourage you to stop and ponder whether it might be worth trying to figure out how to make this thing work or, at the very least, attempt a comprehensive last-ditch effort to see if the marriage can be saved.

Many couples are truly surprised at how quickly perspective changes when they finally get expert help for their situation.

This new clarity and insight enables both spouses to come out of the fog of ambivalence and raw trauma. After over 30 years of caring for those struggling with the effects of infidelity, I can tell you that while it may look and even sound impossible, there is often hope and opportunity for change.

Many couples come to us as a true last-ditch effort, and are surprised to find that they are now seeing and understanding issues between them with a much greater sense of urgency and clarity. Should you consider moving forward in divorce, though? You don't know what's waiting for you, and no one is any more capable of explaining that reality to you than air to an embryo.

Please understand that coping with divorce, especially after infidelity, is no easy task. Every situation is uniquely challenging and requires a great deal of patience and strategy before you finally act.

Unless you've talked to what I refer to as an "infidelity-specific resource" who can help navigate the complicated waters you are in, I would ask you to pause, and try the help of a true expert before you divorce.

Alternatively, sometimes, our mate is just not safe and refuses to take action. If you've held on for what seems like an eternity and your spouse's actions continue to show their disregard for any of your consequences and pain, not to mention future together, you may have come to the point where divorce is your best right option.

I would never want to recommend staying with a spouse that was abusive, whether physically or verbally. Sometimes, divorce might be the only option for your and your children's safety. However, when abuse is not present in your relationship, or there's just a really bad feeling of being "stuck", I'd say pump the brakes before you end the marriage.

My team and I would be more than happy to help in any way we can. There are a variety of Programs and Courses" and free resources on our site.

Just below, I'll share an answer to a previously submitted question: How Long Should I Resist Divorce?

Cover more ground faster with the life-changing experience of EMS Weekend for couples.

This isn't another light-and-fluffy program that only scratches the surface of your pain. The EMS Weekend Experience is a safe space for you and your partner to start putting the pieces of your life back together, transform your trauma and begin healing from infidelity. Skeptical about the effectiveness of this experience? Don't be! Backed by a slew of previous participant testimonials, EMS Weekend delivers results month after month for countless couples.

During EMS Weekend, we won't shame the unfaithful spouse nor blame the betrayed spouse. What we will do is pair you with a small community of other couples and an expert therapist - all of whom have experienced infidelity firsthand - as well as provide comprehensive resources to help you kick-start your healing journey.

Sign Up Now!



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Then there is feeling safe when they are on their psych medicine but not safe when off

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I would highly recommend giving this a try.
-D, Texas