Calling Divorce 'Immature & Selfish' Is Immature, Selfish & WRONG

With a divorce rate of roughly 50 percent, almost all of us know someone -- a friend, a colleague, a family member, ourselves -- whose marriage didn't work out. We tell ourselves, especially if they had kids, that the family will be better off, that they will all be happier in a split family than they would in a united but fighting one. Writer Penelope Trunk of The Brazen Careerist isn't so sure.

Trunk has built a career on being shocking and saying everything that is on her mind. With a post she did a few days ago, she has certainly ruffled a few feathers. In it, she calls divorce an "incredibly lame and selfish route to take." She says: "Divorce is immature and selfish." Wow. This is especially interesting coming from someone who is herself divorced and who is also trying to work out a relationship with a man she openly admits abuses her on a regular basis.

In other words, her opinion may be slightly colored by her own experience. But is she right?

In a word: No. She isn't right. I don't need a study to tell me that sometimes, especially in marriages where there are no children, divorce is the kindest thing two people can do for one another. I say this as a person who will likely never get divorced unless my husband leaves me (because we would be remiss to not point out that sometimes one person isn't making a "choice" at all). Personally, I am very invested in keeping my marriage together.

But not everyone who is invested like me can do so, and personally, I don't think calling them "selfish and immature" is very helpful. Sure, I have seen marriages break up that I think could have been saved. But I also am aware of how lucky I am that my marriage is what it is. Not everyone has a happy marriage, replete with great communication and passion. And the fact is, I could have never known at 23 (the age when I started dating my husband) what he would be like at 35. I am just incredibly lucky that the man is as in love with me and as committed to keeping our family together.

All around me, I see marriages that probably SHOULD break up or at least be in counseling. I am amazed by the number of men who lie to their wives and do things to hurt them. I am amazed by the number of women who stay with men who don't help them in any way or make things very hard when they do. I am amazed at the number of couples I know who simply don't enjoy one another. In fact, I can count the number of enviable, happy marriages I know on one hand. One hand!

I once asked an aunt who has a particularly blissful union what the secret was to her 40-year marriage. She said, "Dumb luck." And it's the truth. None of us knows what the future holds. We can be the most mature, unselfish, and loving person, but if our spouse beats us, it's better for the kids that we leave.

Trunk deals in absolutes. It's what has made her famous. But this is a hurtful statement to make, and even more, it isn't true. Sometimes -- many times -- people are better off and happier when they split. And wanting to be happy isn't selfish. It's self-preservation. That is a different thing altogether and, perhaps, the one thing we should all practice without fail.

Do you think divorce is always immature and selfish?


Image via miguelpdl/Flickr



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nonmember avatar Billabong

Divorce is necessary is some cases, but more often than not, the couples I know were indeed selfish. 'I'm just not happy' is the most common refrain. Most of them are more concerned with their own pleasure than working on something that may be hard now but could easily blossom into a great marriage. Great marriages don't just happen and its not by 'dumb luck'! Its by commited people who are not selfish and put their mate before their own 'happiness'!

Kwiat2 Kwiat2

In most cases, especially with kids, yeah I do. And you prove my point. People act like that way to their spouses because they are selfish and immature. So it's no surprise that they get divorced, since it follows in the same behavior. There are exceptional cases of course, but for the most part, yeah, I disagree with you.

zandh... zandhmom2

I agree that sometimes divorce is best, like when there is abuse but most people that I know that are divorce did do it for selfish reason.  My ex BIL left my sister after 19 years of marriage because some young bimbo showed him alittle attention. Oh well, 2 years later she is the one who is doing so much better and his life has gone so down hill.  I think if he could go back and change it, he would.  Marriage is hard work and there will be times when you may not always feel "in love" but if both people are commit then you work through it. My husband and I agree early in our marriage that divorce is not an option so we work really hard to make sure we are happy together.  It will be our 19th anniversary this April.

momof... momof3cuties987

Of course you could never say that "all" divorces are immature and selfish, but in too many cases there isn't enough work put into staying together.  Too many people get wrapped up in thinking everything should be like a fairytale and when real life sets in they are not happyand when people get divorced because of it, thatusually doesn't make them happy either.  Working things out and overcoming obstacles is a better way to feel good about yourself.  Of course there are times when someone puts there all into working it out and the partner doesn't put in any effort, but at least one person knows how hard they tried. 

SwePea SwePea

Although I think too many people take the easy way out, there are legitimate reasons for divorce. I stayed with my abusive husband for years out of determination to stay & keep the marriage together.

Kritika Kritika

People got/get married too young, too fast and grow into different people. I also feel, personally, we should go back to the times of age differences between men and women so we can stop the nonsense of men leaving their aging wives for younger chicks. My husband is 15 years my senior and I feel like we have a much more balanced relationship than my same-age ex. He is able to fullfil my desire for emotional maturity and financial security and he has a hot, young wife to bear him babies. I'm not a gold digger or a bimbo zandhmom2 (although he didn't leave anyone for me). It just seems more like what nature intended with men being behind women so much maturity wise. I've never been so happy in all my life, he's a good provider and had time to 'get it all out' in his younger days.

femal... femaleMIKE

Divorce isn't selfish and immature.  At least one person  in the rltp MIGHT be. 

Eques... EquestrianMom

This is something I struggle with. I left my marriage, because I was unhappy, because things were not working, because my husband did not help me out (and made things harder when he could. Because he was insulting, ude and derogetory twards me. Because my son was imitating him, and treating me poorly too. Was I selfish to leave so I could find happiness? Yes, I was.

 But on the other hand, I spent ten years trying to make it work. I spent time in therapy, counseling and talking with the church. I tried every bloody book I could get my hands on. I tried really, really hard to make it work, and I tried really really hard to accept what I could not change. In the end, it became apparent that I was flogging a dead horse, and with only one of us trying, and only one of us caring, this ould not work unless I rolled over, bellied up and accepted a life of misery.

 I got a divorce instead. I still remember his parting words "but I haven't had a problem, you do everything I need, and you are always there for me, why do we need to get a divorce?" Because he still didn't (doesn't) get that that care, consideration, passion, empathy, etc, needed to go both ways. Divorce.

 Marriage is not an easy thing. But you need both partners trying, you need both partners working twards a happy outcome to make it work. IMO, that is the leading cause of divorce, one partners dead in the harness, and ones dragging along a miserable relationship. Til they quit. 

Kritika Kritika

Well said, EquestrianMom.

zandh... zandhmom2

Kritika ~ I certainly wasn't implying that you were a gold digger or bimbo.  I stated that my ex bil left his wife because some young bimbo show HIM attention.  She knew he was married but that it was fun to flirt with him anyway. She lost interest as soon as HE was available.  I was speaking of my own experience. Nothing I said had anything to do with you personally. 

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