Envy, the desire to possess a thing or quality that belongs to someone else, is not always a negative emotion. It can be used to motivate us into working harder, being a better parent, or even reassessing out priorities once we realize the silliness of being envious. Certainly, there are many things we wish for ourselves: that promotion that went to a co-worker, your childless buddy's new BMW, maybe even your neighbor's new Botox treatments. On the other hand, divorce doesn't seem like something that anyone would want. Yet “divorce envy”, the desire to return to the days before one was a wife or husband, is a very real feeling among many spouses.
Much of the study on divorce envy seems focused on mothers, who are often overwhelmed from working full-time, and still being expected to do much of the housework and child-rearing. In their eyes, divorced mothers get a break from parenting when their ex's take the children for the weekend, summer, etc. There's even a court order saying they have to do this, so they can't just bail out last minute without there being actual consequences. To the beleaguered married mom, even one night a week on her to meet friends for dinner, go to the gym, etc., seems like a dream come true.
To be fair, there are plenty of dad who do their fair share of the housework and child-rearing. In fact, there's a growing trend now among dads who stay home or work from home, and therefore take on more of the house-related responsibilities. It's likely that many of these dads are feeling the same envy when they look at the seemingly care-free lives of their single or unmarried friends. The point is, both sides struggle with the questions of “When it is my time? What's left after being both a parent and a wife/ husband?” After months or years of feeling this way, it's not surprising that one or both spouses may start considering divorce.
Divorce, however, is full of pain and uncertainties, as any family law attorney can tell you. Regardless of what it says in the court order, co-parenting takes awhile to get used to, especially for your kids who may resent you for breaking up the family. Things get really ugly when your ex starts skipping support payments or wants to rework the visitation schedule to fit his or her new life. You're divorced, after all, so how this effects you isn't exactly high on their priority list. Now you have to decide whether to go to court to enforce the original terms, or negotiate a modification with your attorneys. Either option isn't cheap or easy, and it's certainly not anything to envy. The lesson here is that you shouldn't let divorce envy influence decisions regarding your marriage. However, it doesn't hurt to speak with a divorce attorney who can advise you on the process, and the consequences it may have on your family and finances.