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Should you stay in a dead marriage?

Updated on May 10, 2016

If it's dead, why keep it?

I've struggled with this concept myself for almost half of my 20 year marriage. If you've tried everything you can do to revive it, at what point do you cut your losses?

People get hung up on the institution concept of marriage, instead of the people involved in it. Couples stay married because they feel they should, they made a commitment to each other, but the thing they fail to realize is that commitment is already broken. Who divorces from a happy marriage, nobody? Staying together just for the sake of something, when it will never grow or flourish is pointless. I still do this and I often wonder why? Guilt, financial security, fear of the unknown, family aftermath or plain insecurity, who knows??

I'm a Christian and the first thing we're taught about marriage is that God hates divorce, you marry forever etc. This is only partially true. God does hate divorce, but only because it dissolves a marriage, but if the marriage is already dead, no further dissolving is necessary.

I believe that God wants a marriage that honors Him and the way that He designed it for, emotional, physical and spiritual unity and if you're not living that way, then you're not following His will. To me, it would be better to divorce and find someone else and try to build a strong Christian marriage, than to stay in a dead one, that will never honor His will. Well, that's it for the religious implications.

We attended a marriage weekend called "A Weekend To Remember", sponsored by a group called Family Life. They've had them for years in nearly every city close enough to drive to and attend, so we did just the thing. All of the speakers touched on what a marriage needs to live and then shared their personal stories. We learned marriage has to be #1. It must reign over job, hobbies and even children and most importantly it is either growing or dying, it never stays the same and can't run on "autopilot". The dying process is a slow painful one, involving a gradual loss of an emotional connection that will strip away sex, communication, quality time etc and you'll just become roommates that either share a bed or sleep elsewhere, at this point it is only superficial and routine. You may still give affection, kisses and hugs, but they will be no more passionate than you would share with a family member. Going through the motions and physically doing things that resemble a marriage doesn't make it any more alive.

Commitment is important, but it is far more than not cheating and not leaving, it is more about what you do while you're there. You've heard the old saying, "Just because you stand in a garage, doesn't make you a car" or "an elephant born in a tree, isn't a bird"? Sharing a house, bed, bills, etc doesn't make a marriage, if there is no emotional connection and desire to make it the way it was intended.

Sex is a marriage barometer and a lot of spouses, especially the ones that have grown apart from their mates, see this as just another unnecessary obsession by the other. Once sex becomes totally unimportant and fizzles to nothing, the marriage is dead. There are ways to revive it again, but it is very difficult.

I find myself always asking this same question, What benefit is there to staying in a dead marriage? Do you hang onto anything else dead? Do you keep dead pets, stale food etc, no, there is no reason to do it. I think people think there is some kind of credit they get for enduring a dead marriage, like a reward or something? In reality, they just wasted their life and negated any chance at future happiness with someone else.


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    • strkngfang profile image

      strkngfang 22 months ago

      Thanks for reading and you're right with all of your observations as well. There is a lot of "bait & switch" and mindsets that say "till I no longer feel like it" instead of til death.. The vows have become expendable.

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 22 months ago

      Excellent points!

      Another reason why I believe many people stay in "dead marriages" is because they always expected them to die right from the beginning!

      In fact some people actually don't believe it's "real love" until after the romance, passion, and sex stops being a regular part of their lives.

      They put more value on marriage being about "companionship".

      Anyone who seeks to "keep the magic alive" is seen as being "unrealistic" about marriage. However in a world with over 7 Billion people the odds are you or I can't be the only ones who don't believe marriages should resemble "platonic relationships" or "roommates with the same last name."

      The reality is if two (truly passionate romantic people) got married they would be in heaven because they share the same values!

      The reason this often does NOT happen is because those who expect marriage to settle into a rut or routine always ACT like "romantics" during the courtship phase of new relationships!

      They never tell their mate early on: "When it comes to sex I can take it or leave it." "Sex is not important to me. I just want someone to build a life with." or "I could be content with having sex once or twice a year."

      Noooooo! What they do is bend over backwards giving you all the loving and romance you can handle to win you over. Once you become "emotionally invested" in them they gradually stop doing the things that caused you to believe you had found your "soul-mate".

      The underlying reason for taking a vow to "forsake all others" is the belief that one has someone who is "committed" to meeting their needs!

      It's almost a cliché to hear someone say:

      "He/she is not the same person I fell in love with."

      The truth of the matter is it wasn't until after you became "emotionally invested" in the relationship that they felt safe to reveal their "authentic self". This not only happens in relationships and marriages but with just about every thing "new" that comes into someone's life.

      A person gets a new job and they bend over backwards to impress their new employer. Five years later they walk in 20 minutes late and if a co-worker teases them about it they say: "They're lucky I showed up!"

      A person gets a new car and they lay down some ground rules: "No eating, drinking, or smoking in my car!" They wash and wax it every weekend and get it detailed every six months.

      Three years later you see an inch of dirt on the body of the car and the inside looks like a grenade went off! What happened?

      We treat "the new" better than the "tried and true".

      Many people think being in a committed relationship means one is now free to RELAX and take each other for granted because they no longer have to worry about "competition" because their mate isn't going anywhere. With a 50% divorce rate you'd think they know better.

      There is no cruise control or neutral in marriage.

      You're either "growing together" or "growing apart".

      Communication is the GPS for marriage to let you know which it is.

      "Never love anyone who treats you like you're ordinary."

      - Oscar Wilde

      Marriage was designed to enrich people's lives not imprison them!

      It takes courage to walk away from a known presence to an uncertain future. Every ending is a new beginning!

      “Some people think that it’s holding on that makes one strong; sometimes it’s letting go.” — unknown

      The world may not owe you anything but (you) owe yourself the world!