There Are No Dealbreakers In Marriage? Says Who?!

December 27, 2012  |  


Yesterday, I was reading an otherwise great piece on “10 Things Every Single Needs To Know About Marriage.” Though, I’m already married, I suspect I don’t know everything about marriage so I clicked through to see if I should have been warned about anything beforehand.

What I read caught me by surprise:

There are no dealbreakers: When you get married you need to put all of your chips on the table and bet on your future. What we’ve learned from talking to couples who have been through all types of situations, is that there are no true dealbreakers. We’ve seen couples survive and thrive after financial crises, infidelity and more. If both of you are dedicated to the marriage you can make it work.

On one hand, I completely understand where the author is coming from. Often the “irreconcilable differences” that divorcing couples cite as a reason for their split are actually reconcilable. Remember when Kim Kardashian said she wanted to divorce Kris Humphries after 72 days because he was boring? How ridiculous. One woman cited “50 Shades of Grey” in her divorce petition. She said she’d read the book hoping it would spice up their marriage, but she realized her husband had a boring attitude toward sex and she was fed up. A Chinese man made headlines after divorcing his wife for being ugly. He says after she birthed an ugly baby, he discovered she had $100,000 in plastic surgery procedures. So, he divorced and sued her, claiming she married him under false pretenses. Another woman divorced her husband because he talked too much and would share their family affairs with his other relatives and friends.

Just this weekend, the news of one celebrity divorce filled up my “Celeb Gossip” Twitter list timeline: former Real Housewife of NYC Bethenny Frankel and Jason Hoppy. Bethenny once gushed about marrying a “regular guy with a regular salary” who taught her that “being taken care of was emotional and not financial.” Now, the fact that “she’s very focused but he’s just not driven” led to the “extremely difficult decision” of splitting up after less than three years of marriage.

No two people have the same personality, I get that. The personality traits that first attracted us to a person may end up being the ones that irritate us the most. But, is being irritated by the personality traits of another good reason to divorce? Is the fact that he is a laid-back, laissez-faire type of guy and you’re a high-strung, no-chill type of woman really a dealbreaker? Is this something that you didn’t know about each other going into a marriage?

In most situations, spending beaucoup money on a divorce before your wedding dress is back from the cleaners is idiotic. However, there are some legitimate reasons people break their til-death-do-us-part deal.

In fact, if I had to make a list of no-questions-asked dealbreakers in a marriage: domestic violence would certainly top that list. The ABA Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence reported that approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States. Of the almost 3.5 million violent crimes committed against family members, 49% of these were crimes against spouses. In recent years, an intimate partner killed approximately 33% of female murder victims and 4% of male murder victims. Of females killed with a firearm, almost two-thirds were killed by their intimate partners. Spousal abuse is serious and should not be tolerated.

On the same level as domestic violence is child abuse. More than five children die every day as a result of child abuse. The Executive Director of The National Marriage Project found that children who are raised in homes by a mother and a boyfriend are more likely to suffer physical, sexual and emotional abuse than children who are raised by married biological parents. He writes, “In other words, one of the most dangerous places for a child in America to find himself in is a home that includes an unrelated male boyfriend – especially when that boyfriend is left to care for a child by himself.” However, abuse happens in homes where the mother and father are married as well. How many spouses turn their head while their child is being abused? In fact, the largest percentage of perpetrators (83.9 percent) were parents, including birth parents, adoptive parents, and stepparents.

In addition to these dangerous, violent, and life-threatening situations that can pop up in a marriage, there are other things that could be dealbreakers as well. For instance, I know a woman who found out her husband was having an ongoing affair with another man. If that doesn’t have you running for the nearest exit, then I don’t know what will. Even the Bible allows divorce if you find out your spouse is cheating. Some couples survive that, but some truly cannot.

I’m not advocating divorce in the least. I just think it’s important for a mature person to be able to distinguish what truly warrants divorce and what doesn’t. If you did your due diligence when dating then certain things should have been revealed and worked out (or walked away from) before you considered walking down the aisle anyway. After that, you commit to stay together and not break up just because someone is “bored” or “unhappy” or loads the dishwasher incorrectly.

Surely couples who have been married for decades have encountered numerous situations that have today’s newlyweds running for divorce court. The difference is that these older couples weren’t so quick to give up, so they worked through their problems and went on to have stronger marriages as a result.  Unfortunately, some things truly do not rear their grotesque, dangerous, coldhearted, fradulent heads until after you’re married and, in that case, it’s understandable why a couple call it quits.

What do you think? Are there dealbreakers in a marriage?

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