Some are committed to their marriage because they love their spouse. Some are committed because they fear what they would lose if they left their spouse. Some are committed to their marriage out of a sense of obligation.
A three-component model of commitment was created by John Meyer and Natalie Allen when studying why people stay in jobs or careers. These same components can be used when identifying why someone stays in a bad marriage.
Basically, according to Meyer and Allen, “commitment to an organization is a psychological state, and that it has three distinct components that affect how employees feel about the organization that they work for.
The 3 Components:
1. Affection for your job.
2. Fear of loss.
3. Sense of obligation to stay.
It only makes sense that commitment to a marriage would have the same three psychological components, (1 affection for your spouse, (2 fear of loss if you leave, (3 a sense of obligation to stay in the marriage.
Think about each of the following reasons people fear leaving a bad marriage and which of the 3 components above is driving you or drove you to stay in a bad marriage?
15 Reasons Women Fear Leaving a Bad Marriage:
1. Fear divorce will harm your children.
If your first thought isn’t the damage divorce could potentially do to your children, it should be. The good news is, if handled correctly, divorce can teach our children valuable lessons they will carry throughout life.
2. Fear your spouse wouldn’t remain involved with the children.
My ex took a hike a few years after we divorced. He isn’t part of our son’s lives and I don’t know if he will be again. So, this is a reasonable fear. Here is how I’ve learned to look at it, though. If a father cares so little for his children that he will abandon them, is he of any value to them if you remain married.
Let’s face it, there is something inherently wrong with anyone who can leave and not remain in their children’s lives. I don’t know about you but, when it comes to sharing parental responsibilities in marriage, I’d rather not be doing that with someone who has that deep of a character flaw.
3. Fear your children would lose contact with extended family members like grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
I don’t believe this to be a fear that is based in reality. If extended family loves your children, with her help they are going to find a way to stay involved. Children can be as close to extended family after divorce than they were before divorce.
4. Fear you wouldn’t be able to make it on your own financially.
This is definitely a reality based fear. And, it is one that should keep you in an unhappy marriage but, only until you’re capable of taking care of yourself and your children financially. If you aren’t working, get a job. If you are working but aren’t making enough money, get a better job, go back to school if need be so you can increase your income.
Let me qualify what I’ve said by making it clear that, if you are in an abusive marriage and are in danger of physical harm, you need to leave now. Fear over your physical well-being trumps financial fear!
5. Loss of home or nowhere to live if you divorce.
No marital home is worth living in a bad marriage. If you are working and can afford to take care of yourself and your children, you will all be happier in a small apartment than in a miserable environment in the home you’ve established.
6. Loss of health care and other benefits from your husband.
Yeah, I get this fear! Here is the thing, if you are on your husband’s healthcare plan, a judge will, more than likely, order him to continue to cover you under the plan until you are able to receive Cobra coverage or, your own coverage.
A local attorney can tell you how this is dealt with in your family court jurisdiction. And, with The Affordable Care Act, there is no reason anyone should have to go without healthcare insurance.
7. My spouse might not pay regular child support.
Yep, he might not pay his child support. Especially if he is the kind to abandon his children. Here is the thing, though, the court will order him to pay child support. If he doesn’t pay, your state has a child support enforcement agency that will collect it for you. The state has your back so, no reason to stay in a bad marriage out of fear he won’t pay.
As long as he has a job, your state's child support enforcement office can garnish his wages.
8. Fear of what others will think if you divorce.
You can’t live YOUR life based on what others may or may not think. Seriously!
9. It will feel like a personal failure.
It is a failure but, it is a failure you will learn and grow from. That is what failure is, an opportunity to do better, be better and live a fuller life than you are now. Don’t allow a fear of failure to stop you from leaving a bad marriage.
10. Religious beliefs.
God gave you free will for a purpose. Use it to better your life and your children’s lives!
11. Fear of facing an uncertain future.
Yes, that is pretty scary. Especially if you’re in a long-term marriage. But, look around you at other divorced woman. The vast majority went through a divorce and came out the other side happier and more excited about their futures.
12. Fear of being alone and never marrying again.
Never marrying again doesn’t mean you will be alone. And, if you do find yourself spending more time than you are comfortable with alone, isn’t that better than spending time with someone you no longer want to be married to?
If you love yourself and your own company, alone can be a pleasant place to be.
13. The idea of dating is incomprehensible.
Who says you have to date! You don’t have to until you are ready to and when you are ready to date, you will look forward to it with excitement, not apprehension. It’s a date, not a lifelong commitment!
14. Fear that divorce will only make marital conflict worse.
If you learn not to engage with a toxic ex, divorce won’t make marital conflict worse. If your husband is a narcissist, he will try to make your life a living hell after your divorce. Just because he tries doesn’t mean he will succeed.
15. Fear your abusive spouse will become more abusive after your divorce.
This is a realistic and smart fear to have if you are in a physically abusive marriage. The great thing about this fear is that it keeps you on your toes. It helps you make sure that you have a good exit strategy and everything you need in place to make sure you are safe after you leave the marriage. Use this fear to your advantage!