If you are considering divorce, you are not alone. Though the true divorce rate for first-time marriages is somewhat murky, some statistics say 50%, but many agree it is actually less; I would think those contemplating divorce at some point in their marriages is extremely high. The question as to whether you should stay or not stay in your marriage is a difficult one since there are so many factors and emotions at play. These decisions should never be taken lightly since the impact on your family can have devastating results, but then again, so can staying in an unhealthy marriage with someone who is abusive.
Most people who get divorced have often endured years of pain, resentment, anger, and sheer exhaustion, all which have led them to the point of wanting to give up. Though understandable, we tend to make bad decisions when we are frustrated and exhausted. If you do decide to get divorced, try your best to think it through clearly because whatever agreement you come up with is one you will have to live with for a long time. But before you make the ultimate decision, consider asking yourself these 6 questions:
- Have you looked within yourself? So often we like to blame our spouses for our unhappiness. If you are not happy, perhaps it’s because of the choices you made. Maybe you’re not happy with the decision you both made about staying home with the kids or going to work after the kids. Have you talked to your spouse about it and tried to come up with a compromise you can live with. Have you stopped wanting to have sex? Usually, that’s a symptom of poor communication and harboring resentment. Whatever the issues are, it’s important to take responsibility for the part you have played and know you are responsible for how you act and behave, while your spouse is responsible for their behavior. If your spouse is unwilling to listen or make changes, then the problems will most likely cause a downward spiral and continue to be ongoing issues that will only cause more resentment and anger.
- Have you tried counseling? Many couples go into counseling as a last-ditch effort to “save” the marriage. Often couples find that they waited too long, allowing their problems to take root which makes it nearly impossible to fix. However, going into counseling will definitely bring to light whether or not couples can save their marriage and will assist them in answering the question whether or not they should part. Though a therapist should never tell you that, nor are they able to “fix” your relationship. Growth and change require commitment from both spouses to make it work.
- What will this do to our family? How will this affect our kids, our parents, our friends? Divorce has an impact on everyone involved with you. Though you and your spouse may think you are ready to split, breaking the news to those you love will not be so easy and will not be without complications. You will have awkwardness from your in-laws during and after. In fact, always remember blood is thicker than water in many families. Your friends will take sides. Children react to divorce in different ways depending on gender and age. Some act out behaviorally while others may isolate. The important thing is even though you may be going through pain, it’s important to pay close attention to your children and if you see problems get them professional help. Ignoring your children’s reaction to your divorce can make their behavior and outcome much worse.
- Can I make it on my own? What will my lifestyle look like after divorce? Life is going to look way different after divorce. Depending on combined income, your house may have to be sold, retirements and bank accounts divvied up, which means less money in the proverbial pot. Before you decide to divorce, it’s well worth the money to have a consultation with a divorce attorney and get the low down on your situation and what it may look like after divorce.
- Do I still love my spouse? Or are we done? Love certainly doesn’t heal all and in fact, there are times that love is not enough. But if your marriage has had poor communication, resentment overload, difficult parental struggles, and the myriad of everyday stresses, then maybe love isn’t the problem. Perhaps the problem is that the love is buried underneath all that rubble. If there is even a bit of a spark remaining, then it is certainly worth asking yourself, can I re-ignite it? On the flipside, if you have hate and disdain for your spouse and feel repulsed, that would be a clear sign you are done.
- Are you willing to stay single for the rest of your life? If you cannot say “yes”, then your motivation for divorce may be because you think there is someone better out there for you. And, though there very well may be someone who is a better match for you, the truth is you already chose, and the grass is not always greener on the other side. Or, perhaps you have already met someone you would like to sidle up with? If so, please know if you are contemplating leaving your marriage for another person, then you are not giving your marriage a fair shake. Being emotionally involved with someone else muddies the waters and certainly the emotions. Many people I have known and talked with, usually have remorse after they left their marriage for someone else. Especially since the relationship they left their marriage for rarely works out and their relationship with their families and their children tend to have negative consequences attached for the long haul.
Whatever you decide, remember being forewarned is being forearmed. Meaning, if you know what to expect you can prepare for it. If you have children, then you owe it to them to make a decision whereby you can ultimately be able to look yourself in the mirror and know you did everything in your power to save your marriage and your children from undue hurt.