If you’re contemplating divorce, you’re likely making one of the hardest decisions in your life. It can be nearly impossible to decide if you want to stay or go. One important thing to recognize is that in a way, not making this decision is as hard as making the decision. For as long as you remain indecisive, you will remain in the relationship in a sort of hazy middle ground.
Not genuinely investing in the relationship, but not making a clean break can make things even more stressful and complicated. That said, divorce is not a decision to be taken lightly or to be made quickly. Read on to find some tips that may help you make the best of the moment you’re in and eventually make the best decision for the future of your family.
Reasons people choose to stay:
Many people choose to stay in a less than stellar relationship simply because they are used to it. It can be intimidating to break off something so familiar even if it hasn’t materialized the way they’d planned. For this reason, it is often easier for younger couples or couples that haven’t been together as long to make a final decision about divorce, while it is more difficult when couples have been together for the majority of their adult lives.
Many parents may choose to stay in a marriage that is not ideal for the sake of their children. If you’re considering this, think about how your current relational state impacts your kids. Are you constantly arguing, or are you able to get along as friends? Is there palpable tension in your home or simply a loss of romance? Sometimes staying together to keep your family unit cohesive can be the right choice, and other times it is not.
What’s really the right choice?
When considering divorce, it’s essential to consider the pros and cons of a divorce reality rather than just your imagined picture of it. Unfortunately, breaking away from your spouse often complicated almost every area of your life. It’s important to ask yourself what you’ll lose when you say goodbye to your partner and what in your life will have to readjust to a new normal. You’ll have to ask yourself if those losses are worth it.
Except in situations of abuse, it’s rarely a good idea to get a divorce based on what you hope to gain from breaking from your partner. If you do, you may realize after the fact that you were simply blaming your partner for struggles that had different roots. For example, being unhappy in your marriage doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll be happy once you’re divorced.
Consider these questions when you’re wondering if divorce is really the only right option:
- Do you have anything left to invest in making your marriage work?
- Do you have any forgiveness left for your spouse?
- Do you feel indifferent towards your spouse?
- Does your spouse treat you poorly?
- Do you feel emotionally connected to your spouse in any way?
- Is there a history of abuse or infidelity?
If you’ve answered yes to these questions, your marriage is likely on the rocks.
It’s time to take any steps you can to save your marriage one last time (except in the case of abuse in which you should seek professional help immediately and prioritize your safety) and then to ready yourself for the possibility of divorce.
Before you make a decision:
Divorce is a final decision and is not something to be taken lightly. Before you make such a life-altering decision, it is wise to prepare your life for what’s to come.
First, attempt to make other areas of your life as stress-free as possible.
Practice self-care, do things you enjoy, say no to things you don’t. You’ll need all of your available emotional energy to navigate what’s coming next in your marriage, no matter the outcome.
Make a practical plan for life without your spouse. What assets can you let go, what do you absolutely need to keep? What would be an acceptable custody arrangement? How will you pay the bills? How will you handle childcare? Where will you live? Making these kinds of decisions will set the stage for what your reality will indeed be post-divorce. If you can’t find solutions that leave you feeling content, maybe it’s not the time to end your relationship. If you do go ahead with the divorce, everything will move along much more smoothly if you’ve already given thought to the essential practical decisions.
Take some time to think. If possible, take a weekend away from your spouse. Sometimes the separation can make you think more clearly. Do you miss him or her, or do you feel relieved?
While it’s important to have time alone to clear your head and organize your thoughts, you may also want to take some time to talk to trusted friends and family. Be careful with who you include in this decision, though, as it’s natural for family and friends to have strong feelings and reactions that may not be in your best interest.
Talk to a professional:
It’s important for anyone contemplating divorce to talk to a mental health specialist. You can even consider speaking with a counselor through a virtual service like Lifehelp App. If both parties are willing, you may want to try couples therapy as a first step. A professional can help mediate your disagreements and help you to explore the possibility of making things work. If this does not work or if you are in an abusive relationship, it’s time to see a professional on your own. Mental health professionals can help you to sort through your emotions so that you can make a clear-headed decision and can also help you to process the loss once the decision is made.
Considering divorce is never easy, and neither is finalizing it or returning to a relationship with the knowledge that divorce was once a serious option. Know that you don’t have to do it on your own. Mental health professionals have been trained to be by your side every step of the way.