Frankly, I don’t know the psychological term for it. Maybe revisionist history is appropriate. I seem to remember that the term “incongruence” may play into it.
But, whatever it is called, there is an odd (but predictable) event that frequently happens with divorcing couples. Let’s call it the “contamination effect”.
When a couple decides to separate, the disharmony of the tail end of the marriage somehow contaminates the rest of the marriage. Sometimes one or both spouses look back on the whole marriage through the same lens that they view the separation or divorce. The emotions of the very end of the marriage retrospectively color their view of the entire marriage. Some couples even start playing the marriage over in their head looking for reasons to convert good memories of moments in their marriage to bad memories. The phenomenon is displayed visually in this video.
This often becomes more prevalent as the legal fighting ramps up through adversarial negotiation and court battles. In my experience, the worse the divorce gets, the more the couples’ view of their marriage is likely to be distorted.
And that phenomenon creates a lot more unnecessary destruction. There are enough tough repercussions of divorce. Couples should not have to lose the positive memories of their marriage in a divorce. In fact, I suspect that this kind of thinking is what causes many people to give up on marriage once they have been divorced.
That is just one more reason why it is important that each couple make an educated decision about their divorce process. Choosing a divorce process that does not create more hard feelings can be very important. Honoring the years of marriage while creating a plan for each party to move forward can help couples leave a marriage without having to entirely revise their memories of the past.