The One Word You Must Never Say In Your Marriage

divorce threat

Never threaten to end your marriage.

You should never utter the word “divorce” if you’re not serious about one.

You should never call on ending your marriage for the sake of ending an argument.

I was married for nearly a decade; my wife and I would find ourselves in regular battle royals. We yelled at each other vigorously, argued constantly and found new ways to sabotage our marriage.

With each fight and argument that came up, I always took it a step further.

What would be the death knell of a marriage?

What would hurt her more than anything else?

What would take our marriage to the edge of the cliff and shatter it forever?

Divorce!

Well, at least, the threat of a divorce.

I wanted a divorce, like an immature teenager, when things didn’t go my way.

I wanted a divorce when we were at the most heated point of our arguments.

I wanted a divorce when I was angry, frustrated or had no other ammunition in my arsenal of arguments. When there were no more painful comebacks or putdowns…

“Well, if that’s how you feel about it, we should just get a divorce then…” I would nonchalantly announce.

The words always fell on her ears like I had hoped it would – to break through the noise and deliver a bombastic shudder.

The word divorce in our culture was like a bomb; it was both foreign and taboo in the Indian community. Death we could accept, divorce never. A divorce not only would end the relationship between us, but also create heartache and shame for our families.

Yet I repeatedly continued to ratchet up the threats of divorce. First I announced it as a threat, then later, a solution. If we were both so unhappy and miserable, wouldn’t it just make sense to divorce, I reasoned out loud?

Yet, each time I said it, I don’t believe I meant it. I couldn’t imagine a divorce in my life. I knew how much it would ravage both of our lives and imagined how difficult it would be to bear the emotional pains of a divorce.

The D-word became a threat and a weapon in moments of heated conflict.

Now, I realized, what I did was introduce the possibility of separation and ending into our marriage. When you introduce ideas like divorce, you open the door to the possibility of one occurring. I opened the door to options that never existed as both of us stood firm in arguments and fights.

When there’s a way out, both parties are less likely to compromise and less likely to change.

Ironically, she is the one who suggested the separation. When we met up after a 6 month break, she was certain of her decision to get a divorce.

While I paid the price of pain and sorrow over the years from the divorce, I also realize that I opened the door to the possibility to one.

I raised divorce for the sake of arguments, for the sake of momentary pleasure and to get the upper hand in a fight. I now know that the threat of ending the relationship, especially when you don’t want it to end, isn’t healthy or helpful to keeping it intact.

Lessons I learned too late:

Don’t threaten to end your marriage. Don’t threaten a divorce.

You might just get what you ask for.

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This article previously appeared in the Good Men Project.