Am I better off without my spouse?
That is the singular most important question you can ask yourself when trying to decide whether or not to divorce. When answering the question remember; the answer is not only about how you feel about your spouse or your spouse feels about you but how your total life will be different should you end the marriage.
There may be prospects for a better romantic relationship after a divorce, but other things will be different too. When you take into consideration EVERY aspect of what divorce means for your life will it mean improvement on a daily basis for you or will it mean a decline, emotionally and financially?
There may not be a clear-cut answer to the above question, no automatic formula you can use when deciding whether or not to divorce. There are situations in which divorce is often the best solution, in which you will actually be better off without your spouse.
Abuse and Addiction:
A divorce may be the best answer to marital problems if those problems are caused by a spouse who is abusive, or has a drug, alcohol or gambling addiction. If you’ve found yourself in such a situation with a spouse who refuses to seek professional help for their abusive or addictive behavior there really isn’t a relationship worth saving.
Your Own Well-Being:
Your own well-being can be an indication of whether or not you need to make changes via a divorce. If you are chronically sad, have trouble sleeping, difficulty focusing on day-to-day tasks you could possibly be suffering from depression.
Likewise, if you have developed problems feeling anxiety or things that never bothered you before or, you are constantly battling physical illnesses these are signs of trouble. The stress you feel due to marital problems may well be making you emotionally and physically ill.
For many who are contemplating divorce there is not a single or dramatic incident or circumstance that leads to thoughts of divorce. For them the problems in the marriage do not include abuse, addiction or stress related illnesses.
Instead, there may be a growing dissatisfaction or sense that the marriage just isn’t working and that the relationship is taking more out of them that it is giving back.
Barry Lubetkin and Elena Oumano wrote a book on the psychological aspects of divorce called Bailing Out. Early in the book they comment, “Bailing out when you know your relationship is no longer viable can be one of the most affirmative, liberating acts of one’s life. Bailing out can be a wonderful growth experience if you use this period of your life as a time to explore, discover, and evaluate beliefs that have determined your behavior. The irrefutable fact is that staying with someone in a miserable or indifferent relationship, whether in a marriage or a live-in situation, erodes your self esteem.”
If you are able to honestly say to yourself that you would be better off without your spouse, advance planning before taking the step to divorce is to your advantage. It has been proven that the length of time between the decision to divorce and marital separation is associated with the ability to emotionally adjust to divorce.
The longer the period between the decision to divorce and marital separation, the better the adjustment after the divorce.
As an example of the damage that can be done when someone makes the decision to divorce without taking the time to adjust to the idea I will share my own personal experience with divorce. My marriage was not plagued by severe marital problems, we had our share but nothing that would cause me to believe my ex was unhappy enough to leave the marriage.
My ex had not shared the details of how unhappy he was which left me stunned, surprised and hurt when he left. The problem in our situation is that he was also stunned, surprised and hurt. He took a drastic step in response to an argument and set in motion events that would have long-lasting negative effects on him, our children and me.
I have been divorced for nearly 15 years and the conflict between my ex and I is still very high. The children and I had something forced on us and we had no choice but to carry on and learn to adjust to the fact that he was gone and not coming back. It took us quite some time to come to terms with the fact that someone who had appeared to care for us could turn into someone who cared so little about the negative effects his decision and behaviors were having on our lives.
My ex, moved on also, he remarried and let go of his relationship with his children but he held onto anger, malignant anger that has cost him what I consider to be the most precious thing a parent can have…the relationship with his children.
I don’t think about him or the situation often these days. I do periodically wonder what life would have been like for him, our children and myself if he had put the brakes on, slowed down a bit and allowed us all time adjust to the idea of divorce.
We’ve recovered BUT we suffered in the process. A little advance planning can go a long way in keeping down emotional turmoil, financial hardship for all involved and it, without a doubt, makes the legal process a bit smoother to navigate.
In the end, do what you need to do to protect your ability to live a full and rewarding life. Seek your happiness at a reasonable pace though. Don’t be in too much of a hurry or you may find divorce becomes a daily companion that holds you back instead of frees you up to move forward.