I heard the expression, “it’s cheaper to keep her” many years ago from my good friend Ken. Ken was the most eligible bachelor in town and many single women were attracted to him. He was very successful in his career, athletic and had a winning personality. I was astonished when Ken called one day to say that he was settling down, getting married and moving to another state for his career. I was ecstatic for Ken’s new found love and career opportunity. He got married and moved to another state. Several years later, I spoke with Ken and learned that he had a daughter, but, he was not happily married. In the midst of our conversation, the ultimate question was asked, “Are you contemplating divorce?” His response indirectly answered my question and I inferred that he had thought extensively and finally calculated financially that it was just simply easier and cheaper to stay married. In essence, it was cheaper to keep her. That was Ken’s response.
When I started writing this article, I queried the phrase and found over 36,200,000 references. This saying was found among articles already written, song titles and even it was a movie title. A stanza in one of the songs’ lyrics was, “Well it’s cheaper to keep her, Than it is to let her go, Just can’t seem to say goodbye to half of everything I own, Well I am damned if I do, and I’m damned if I don’t, Well it’s cheaper to keep her than it is to let her go.” If this is not insulting and doesn’t offend women and wives all over the world, then we have settled for less than the best that we can have in a marriage. However, I didn’t fully understand its meaning until I was faced with divorce.
I had consciously made the decision that I would stay in my marriage until our son turned eighteen years old and on his way to college. I strongly believe that a child needs both parents and it’s the responsibility of the biological mother and father to make the relationship work, regardless. I wanted a divorce desperately, but had resorted to living separate lives in the same household. My decision wasn’t financially driven, but for the sake of keeping the family unit together, I would have sacrificed my happiness. Ultimately and fortunately, I did get a divorce. However, just recently, I spoke with Ken again and still married, he announced that he was planning on filing for divorce in two years. Ken explained that his son would graduate from high school and then off to college. Ken actually endured the years in an unhappy and unsatisfied marriage. I was touched by his commitment but wondered what kind of life that must have been, not only for Ken, but also for his wife. Unlike Ken, I had chosen the opposite, gotten a divorce and was living a fulfilling life.
Speaking with my friend, I’ve learned that living in an unhappy marriage breathes many negative marital indulgences. For one, infidelity is exponentially increased with one or both the spouses. It’s typically the husbands that engage in extramarital affairs, however, more and more wives are engaging in extramarital affairs also. Ken was my only barometer on the subject, the reason for this article and he admitted that he had been involved in several relationships outside his marriage for several years. He boastfully stated that he would continue to indulge in relationships outside of his marriage. Actually, speaking about his relationship, with someone he was dating, I heard a different but ecstatic person on the other end of the phone. Ken explained that he had, for several years, been involved with someone else and that he felt happier than ever. I asked if he knew if his wife was doing the same, how dare I ask this question, and Ken said he hoped his wife was happy with someone else. Confused and dumbfounded, I couldn’t judge his chosen lifestyle.
Another negative marital indulgence faced in unhappy marriages is the lack of physical and emotional contact between the spouses. Ken was no longer attracted to his wife and that included no physical contact. I wondered how his wife was coping with the lack of affection and attention she was receiving. I felt heart stricken and disenchanted about marriages. How can two people stay in the same house, loveless and without physical contact? As women, we typically crave the affection and attention of our significant other. When the attention is not received from the spouse, we emotionally suffer as well as some may also seek attention outside the marriage. Ken was living a double life, was juggling both relationships and seemed happy beyond belief. I’m not condoning what Ken is doing, actually condemning it because it threatens marriages and families. My thought immediately went to how the children were affected and do they see the loveless lifestyle that exists between their parents and the inability to witness blissful marriages? If so, this also contributes to one of the negative influences of unhappy marriages.
Our children learn a great deal about life and relationships from observation. What children see and hear in the household plays a big influence in their lives, sometimes positively and other times negatively. When two parents display lack of affection toward each other, their actions can and sometimes has a negative effect on the children. Ken was asked, by his daughter, about his relationship with her mother. His daughter had been concerned that she never saw her parents holding hands, hugging or kissing. She Ken and his wife hardly went to functions together and his daughter was disturbed by the lack of affection they displayed. She asked him, “Do you love mommy?” Ken was amazed of how his relationship with his wife had been viewed negatively by his daughter. Ken admitted that he never thought that his lifestyle and decision to stay in a loveless marriage would affect his children.
Numerous decisions are made regularly on how a marriage should be by husbands and wives. Staying in a loveless marriage seems to be a popular decision that couples are making as well as enduring. However, such a decision and lifestyle negatively impact everyone involved. It may be cheaper to keep her, but what price does one pay to stay in a loveless and unhappy marriage?