Why Married Couples Shouldn't Threaten Divorce

Why Married Couples Shouldn’t Use the D Word Lightly

As a New York marriage counseling therapist, I have had the opportunity to see and hear a lot of different things during counseling sessions. Among the many things I’ve noticed is how clients differ in their willingness to talk about divorce. The ‘D’ word, as it’s sometimes known, is a touchy one. It is also a word that married couples shouldn’t use lightly.

Most therapists and marriage counselors firmly believe that words mean things. Even words we say without thinking have underlying meanings we may not be conscious of at the moment. But those meanings are still there. So mentioning divorce means something.

In Casual Conversation

It is not unusual for couples to mention divorce in casual conversation. Especially today, when it seems like everyone has either experienced divorce personally or knows someone who has, divorce can be a normal topic of conversation. It’s no big deal in those terms. Still, how couples talk about divorce in casual settings could be an indication of their actual thoughts on the matter.

Where this becomes a problem is when couples throw out the ‘D’ word during arguments. The first time a husband or wife uses the word in an argument, it can be shocking. And quite honestly, that’s usually the point. Repeatedly bringing up the subject of divorce when a husband and wife fight is a warning sign that shouldn’t be ignored.

The Threat of Abandonment

The use of the ‘D’ word as a threat is something we often talk about in marriage counseling. The first one or two times a husband or wife uses the word, the point is to threaten the other one with the possibility of abandonment. Such threats are a way to get the other person to acquiesce.

In and of itself, that practice is harmful to solid marriage relationships. Nothing good can come from one partner threatening the other. Likewise for that other person acquiescing out of fear of such threats coming to fruition. But there is something else in play here: sometimes using the ‘D’ word ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Maybe Life Would Be Better

Imagine you are on the receiving end of the divorce threat. Maybe you have actually experienced it. Either way, being threatened with abandonment multiple times can prompt you to start considering what life would actually be like if it happened. Entertain those thoughts long enough and you might find yourself wondering if you would be happier without your spouse.

In essence, the threat of divorce has planted the seed of possibility in both of your minds. It doesn’t take much to get that seed to start growing. A few arguments here and some disappointments there and a couple is well on the way to marriage counseling that may, or may not, save their relationship.

Is it Time for Marriage Counseling?

The tongue is an immensely powerful weapon capable of inflicting incredible emotional damage with just a few words. This is why married couples should be extremely careful about using the ‘D’ word. Bringing up divorce during a disagreement or argument can wound deeply. It can lead to thoughts and emotions that ultimately end in marital ruin.

Do you and your spouse sometimes bring up divorce during your arguments? If so, your marriage may already be on shaky ground. As fully licensed New York marriage counseling therapists, we are here to help. Please contact our Rye, NY counseling office to set up a time for an initial counseling session.

In the meantime, be very careful about how you use the ‘D’ word. It is a word that couples should not use lightly.

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