The Decision to Divorce/Rabbi Dr. Reuven Bulka

Posted on September 28, 2010


It is vitally important for the couple to realize that once the reality of their having to be divorced settles in as being inevitable, the ground rules of the relationship change dramatically. This in itself is not easily achievable, but the awareness of this crucial difference changes the pressures and the expectations. It should therefore also change the fact that they did not heretofore get along well with each other.

It is not unusual for a couple who is divorcing because they did not get along well to suddenly find that they are getting along better. Surprising as it may seem, the reason for this is precisely because the nature of the relationship has changed. The demands are different, and therefore the reality changes commensurately.

The couple may then individually or collectively ask why they are now getting along well with each other; why could they not do so when they were married? But when they were married the situation was different, the ground rules were more demanding, the shared relationship was drastically deficient, and they could not manage. Now that they need not be husband and wife, and merely need to be friends, or even acquaintances who are able to speak to each other respectfully, matters can take a different, and hopefully positive, turn.

Making a Good Break

It is obvious that under normal circumstances, divorce should be much less contentious when there are no children involved. It is then much more likely that the couple could make a clean break. With children not at issue, what remains to be resolved are usually just property matters. These, once settled, are usually finished and removed from the arena of contention. The husband and wife may split the home or divide it up in another manner; they may agree to a once-and-for-all financial payment, and that will be it. If this is the agreement, then it will not take too much time for the fact of divorce to become a matter of history, and for each one of the couple to go on the way toward seeking other avenues of fulfillment.

Although this is not always the way it happens, the chances of it happening this way are greater when there are no children involved. When children are involved, the divorce is much more complicated. Custody becomes the key issue, child support becomes a matter of great concern, and visitation can be an explosive point of dispute. As well, concerns about the way the child will be raised can cause further bitter divisions. Precisely because the possibility of the divorce becoming exceedingly complicated when children are involved is more than likely, it becomes incumbent upon the divorcing husband and wife to resolve within themselves that they will be on their best behavior; if not merely because that is the right way to be, at the very least in order not to inflict irreparable harm on the children. Each undoubtedly says that the children are their primary concern, although quite often their behavior does not seem to correlate with such affirmation.