Divorce is one of the most traumatic experiences one can endure.
Whether you are contemplating a divorce or have decided to call it quits, it is important to seek an objective intervention to help you go through the divorce process or restore your marriage, if you are willing to.
The experts break down how couples counseling can help you save a floundering marriage, determine the causes of a broken relationship and decide which course of action you should take – splitting or reuniting.
The experts offer the best divorce advice for couples on both ends of the spectrum. To those looking at scratching the surface to understand what has caused marital strife and are looking at resuscitating relationship satisfaction in their marriage, and to those who wish to end the marriage.
There are several important questions that explore how a marriage once happy hit a bottomless pit. Questions that help you understand if there is a scope for restoring a happy marriage or not.
The experts also reveal best divorce advice to help you look at the situation objectively, when you are looking at marriage termination. When a marriage ends, it is important to not take the baggage from the existing strained relationship to the next one. It is essential that you are not over in your head post divorce, and learn to indulge in self-care.
Equally important is learning how to salvage children from the collateral damage of a broken relationship and continue parenting effectively.
Read the best divorce advice for couples by experts to understand about the relationship dynamics in an unhappy marriage, and reach clarity about how you choose to move forward.
Seek couple’s counseling and exhaust all your efforts before deciding to call it quits.
Be open to knowing that couple’s counseling can repair even the most traumatic relationship injuries, such as affairs, abandonment and constant fighting. Tweet this
Find a marriage counselor who is trained in a specific style of marriage counseling.
A relationship like anything else in life is a skill that can be learned.
There are causes and effects at play to everything.
If you are contemplating a divorce all you need to do is to examine all the causes that lead you to undesirable outcomes that you are faced with now.
After that, you just have to create new causes that would lead to better outcomes you want.
But how to do that?
1. Ask yourself “why” 5 times in order to arrive at the root cause of why are you in this position in the first place
The reason why must be repeated 5 times is that the first few answers to that question will only uncover the surface layer problems.
On average after digging deeper and asking why to each subsequent reason we uncover we get closer and closer to the root cause.
Since we don’t want to treat the symptoms, treating the root cause is very important, because the problems will keep reappearing in countless other ways.
2. Understand that good marriages are a result of the right understanding of relationship dynamics
After uncovering the root causes of why the situation got so bad, I would advise to write them down and start tackling them one by one.
Now instead of just blaming each other, you can both accept the responsibility for what’s going on.
You would be able to see the situation more objectively. Now you actually have something you can work with, a set of problems that can be managed and resolved.
I’d say you could even get excited about it as this can become a little project that you can work on as a couple and this itself can bring you closer.
On the other hand, you can also realize at this stage that divorce is the way to go and that sort of clarity would cut a lot of back and forth.
3. Start to put together a plan that would tackle the main root causes of the problems you face
So let’s say we uncovered the root causes, now it’s time to get the right understanding – that could be consultation, courses on relationship, etc.
As an example – let’s say we went through 5 whys and realized that there is no intimacy in the relationship because a couple started taking each other for granted and the feelings they once shared has vanished.
After getting the right understanding from courses on how to rekindle the spark in a relationship etc. you can start to put together a plan that would save your marriage.
That could be an honest conversation about what are the new habits and attitudes and sacrifices you are willing to make for each other.
Those will make you stronger as a couple and can slowly but surely fix the root cause underlying the symptoms (contemplating divorce).
Coming back to the example of no intimacy – you can schedule on a calendar a dinner every Sunday at a romantic restaurant. You can literally schedule it 3 months ahead of time and the remainder will come on your phone and boom you’re saving your marriage one dinner at a time.
After your analysis, you may also realize that the problematic thing is that one of you is constantly on the phone. A proactive way of dealing with that is to simply set a no-phone rule that both of you must stick to.
The pre-requisite of this is obviously willingness that both people can put their individual egos aside and have enough care for each other to make things right if they can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Without that, I would put the relationship on hold and just not see or call each other for a week in order to see how we feel in the absence of the spouse. That could be a good preview of how divorce will feel like for the next few months.
That break itself could be enough to rekindle the spark and see past each others imperfection and regain the perspective of what’s important.
Divorce is nothing more than the legal dissolution of a marriage contract, and yet, so many people believe it is inherently negative. It isn’t. So, the first thing I want my clients to do, when considering divorce, is to identify and let go of any stigmas or preconceived notions they attach to it. If you think it will be negative, it will be. Conversely, if you believe it will create positive change for you and your children, then go get the knowledge. Learn about the divorce process and choose how you want to move forward
step by step. Knowledge minimizes fear … and it will empower you, rather than make you a victim.Tweet this
Ilene S. Cohen
Divorce is a very serious thing to be contemplating. It is the end of a very significant and important relationship. It also gets more complicated if kids are involved.
Instead of seeking advice from well-intentioned friends and loved ones, it’s vital to ask yourself some questions, look within and come up with the answers on your own. Tweet this
Here is a list of some important questions to consider before signing the divorce papers:
- What was it about my spouse that led me to make a lifelong commitment to him/her?
- What can I do differently, if anything, to make this marriage work?
- Am I just angry right now or is divorce something I really want?
- How have I contributed to the possible impending divorce?
- What haven’t I tried?
- Am I safe with my current spouse?
- Have I given in too much to my spouse on situations that are actually non-negotiable for me?
- If I do decide to divorce what can I do to better prepare, especially if kids are involved?
- Consider what type of divorce you would want, mediation, collaborative etc?
- Consider reaching out to a professional, and find out how you can work on your marriage?
- Think about what type of person you want to be in this situation, and what your long-term goals are.
Dr. Margaret Rutherford
Five things to consider when contemplating divorce
Assess as objectively as you can whether or not your unhappiness lies in something you’ve never addressed in yourself.
Recognize if you’ve expected the marriage to thrive without nourishing it.
Realize that you are part of the problem and if not addressed, you’ll carry that problem into your next relationship. Tweet this
Get objective feedback from a therapist rather than counting on family and friends who likely have an agenda.
Do talk to an attorney to recognize the legal implications involved.
Contemplating divorce is different from deciding to divorce. Contemplating divorce suggests that the couple is uncertain if the work necessary to save their marriage is worth it.
To help sort through the uncertainty, the couple needs to explore two questions:
Are they proud of their efforts to make the marriage work? If not, then working with a couples counselor is a great next step. It’s easier to make sure divorce is the right answer because the couple has tried everything than to second-guess themselves after divorcing.
How would their lives change if they did divorce?
Divorce is not easy. It’s one of the most difficult experiences there is. Getting through it and creating a new life takes work – a lot of it.
There are no easy solutions for couples considering divorce. However, by taking the time to look at the options of staying together or splitting up from as many angles as possible, each couple can come up with the best solution for their marriage.
Contemplating divorce is not a light topic and it should be considered from all angles at a time when neither parties are triggered.
And in this “non triggered” state of mind, create a conversation inside the realm of curiosity and generosity and ask the following two questions (and be “interested” in the responses at all costs).
What have you been withholding
The point of this question is to gain access to how you “show up” for this person. There’s a “way of being” in the marriage that has you occur to your spouse –maybe dramatic and over the edge so they won’t tell you certain things for fear of igniting one of your dramatic episodes.
So of course they withhold feelings of loneliness, fear, or money problems. Have you ever wondered why in your marriage your spouse is always doing things alone?
Grocery shopping, taking trips, or running errands? Could it be that you “show up” as uninterested in them? You show up as “I don’t really care about you and your needs” so they’ve learned to be alone in the marriage. Tweet this
Truly be “listening for” how you show up and be with that. It’s not so much what they are finally telling you, it’s what it means about you that you should pay attention to.
What are you incomplete with?
This is the opportunity to create (maybe for the last time) a true communication pathway to understand how your actions have impacted the marriage and the other person.
Again, it’s not a time to be defensive or justify actions but a time to truly “listen for” what this person (whom you once loved maybe still do) is telling you about how they’ve been impacted by the things you have or haven’t done.
It’s important to have this conversation and get complete with as many issues as you both can, otherwise you’ll bring them along with you into the next relationship.
Don’t unpack this relationship’s baggage onto your next one. Could it be what’s happening now?
And who knows, maybe you’ll discover something new about yourself in the conversation that leads you to a new level of self-awareness.
There’s no one road map to take when you’re on the path to separation but having real conversations inside of compassion and responsibility will help you in “how to be” when taking next steps if divorce is something you both feel is necessary.
How to know if divorce is for you?
We live in a highly disposable culture these days where if we don’t like something we change it. In many cases we don’t think long and hard about it or even try to make it work out – we just swap it for something else, the latest mobile phone, pair of trainers or even dating on Tinder.
The days of marriage is for life are long gone and we are no longer a generation of “until death do us part” believers. With the divorce rates in the UK at 42% and in the US almost 50% it really does prove that marriage is no longer for life and if we get fed up, we leave.
I find it fascinating how we spend so much time thinking about our careers and planning our next move and how to impress the boss. Yet when it comes to relationships as soon as we are married we sit back and just expect it to work out well with no effort!
It’s not surprising the wheels fall off somewhere down the line.
However, getting a divorce is not an easy decision to make. It’s important to understand what you will have to face before you make the decision to get a divorce.
It takes a long time to commit to marriage so it should take careful consideration to leave. If you’re struggling to make the decision it is most probably because you don’t have enough clear information to make that decision and are still being pulled in different directions emotionally.
Feelings of guilt and uncertainty can cloud your judgment so by having more clarity around what the process looks like, you will reduce the overwhelm and stress and enable you to make a better decision.
I have created a simple technique called “No Regrets” which will give you more clarity about whether divorce is the right way forward for you. In an ideal scenario, it involves you sitting down with your partner to find a way to work together to do your best to save the marriage for a period of three months.
However, it will also work without the cooperation of your partner and will enable you to be able to make a more informed decision that won’t leave you with regrets or asking yourself “what if I had done this or that?”
Step 1: Create a time to sit down with your partner where you won’t be disturbed. If you are doing this alone then find some quiet time with no interruptions.
Step 2: Start by writing down what you love about your partner and what you like about your relationship.
It’s important to focus on the positive side first however hard this may be if you have been in a rut of only seeing the negative. Discuss this calmly with your partner if they are present and ask them to do the same exercise.
Step 3: Write down a list of areas that need improvement and that you are not happy with.
If you are working with a partner do your best to phrase these in a non-confrontational way. Agree that you won’t blame each other and keep focused on the outcome that is to find a way to save your relationship.
Step 4: Now work out 5 actions each that you agree to do that will help to improve the state of your relationship. If you are working together then agree to hold each other kindly to your five actions and to do your best to follow them through for the full three months.
If you are working through this exercise on your own you need to be honest about your responsibility in the breakdown of your marriage and step into your partner’s shoes to see how you can best rectify the issues. I have seen many times that one partner has started this exercise alone and before long their partner has noticed such a positive change that they begin to try harder too.
The good news is that there are lots of things you can be doing to rescue a floundering marriage, even if only one person is committed to doing so.
My top tips include:
- Be thoughtful and do something every day to let your partner know you love them. Acts of kindness, however small, can mean a lot and remind your partner how much you care about them.
- Keep the romance alive. It’s easy to fall into a rut of daily routine and life gets in the way.
Make an effort to be romantic by spending quality time alone, without kids and mobile phones. Whether it’s a date night out or a cosy night in, it’s important to remember why you fell in love in the first place.
- Be each other’s cheerleader and biggest fan! Be supportive of your partner, encourage them and be proud when they succeed. Have their back and always support them to be the very best they can be.
- Communicate well. It’s important to be able to talk openly together and to enable each other’s voices to be heard. Be open and let them know how you feel.
- Trust your partner. Trust is the foundation for any happy and healthy relationship. You should feel free to be yourself and be loved for who you are.
- Don’t let problems fester. If there are any issues raise them with your partner and work together to sort them out before any irreparable damage is done.
- Make an effort to look good around your partner. Of course, they will see you first thing in the morning and in your comfies – but do make sure that you do take pride in your appearance still for those special times and keep your standards high.
- Do things together. It’s easy to drift apart and do your own thing in a relationship so make sure you find things to do together as a couple. If you can find fun activities that you both enjoy doing in your spare time this will add some sparkle. Even doing the shopping together or the chores will help keep your connection alive.
- Keep the intimacy alive. All too often this disappears after years of being together so discuss how you can keep this side of your relationship fulfilling for both of you. Remember how it used to be and make time to recreate those moments.
- Be playful. Life can sometimes feel all too serious. Keep the playfulness alive with friendly banter, surprises and lots of laughter.
If you have children there will be even more to consider as you will have to think through the impact on them too. I’m a big believer that divorce doesn’t have to damage kids but it will depend on the parents and how they behave.
Often they are more resilient than you think but it will depend on their age and their personality too, no one child will react the same way so it’s important to do your best to prepare how to help them cope with the break-up too.
Don’t be fooled by the Hollywood gloss of “conscious uncoupling” or moving on to your next partner within a heartbeat of becoming single.
It just doesn’t happen like that in reality. The truth is that divorce is the second most traumatic life event after the death of a loved one. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and has a huge ripple effect across people’s lives affecting mental and physical health, lifestyle, daily routine, children, work life, friends and family.
My advice is always to work on the relationship and not give up. However, there are times when you need to be brave and face the fact that it just isn’t working. If you are with a partner who doesn’t love you it will be damaging to your confidence and self-esteem. If they don’t want to be with you anymore then forcing them to stay is never going to make you happy.
Divorce is never the easy option, no matter how the laws are reformed and changed. It should be carefully considered and in my opinion, it’s important not to leave with regrets. Do everything you can to save the marriage.
If you do this then if it does come to an end you can walk away with your head held high and knowing that you did everything you could to save it. If you think you may be headed for divorce, my top tips for how to start out in the best possible way are:
- Get your support team in place. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the divorce process from a financial, legal and emotional perspective, whilst trying to maintain your daily routine too.
So get experts around you who can help answer all the questions you have and give you the best advice. This helps protect your best interests and dials down your stress knowing you can get your questions answered.
- Get clarity on what you spend each month so you can understand your spending patterns.
Create a budget spreadsheet of your weekly and monthly expenditure. You need to take ownership of this so you feel more financially independent and in control.
Agree with your partner what to say to the kids about the breakup.
It is always good to sit down together if possible and tell them together. Reassurance that they are loved and that this is not their fault is key.
Treat each other with respect and kindness. You are bound to disagree at some point and if you agree to treat each other well you can keep it as amiable as possible.
Don’t forget to keep some fun in your life. It can be a rollercoaster of emotions so make sure you find ways to laugh and connect with those you love.
Don’t talk about your breakup to everyone you meet.
Share your feelings with close friends or family but don’t get sucked into a world where the only thing you talk about is your split.
Eating well and exercising is crucial to keeping a strong mind and enabling you to make better decisions.
Write a list of all the things you weren’t happy with in your relationship as you take off the rose tinted glasses. If you are heartbroken and finding it hard to let go of your ex this is a great exercise. When we reminisce about our partners it’s easy to focus on all the good bits and romanticise about things. But this will keep you stuck in the past and it isn’t always reality as this list will show.
Ask for help. If you are struggling to cope with the negative emotions then make sure you ask for help. Some people find it hard to reach out but there are books out there which can help you to move forward after a break-up, as well as experts who specialise in this area.
Make some uplifting plans and put them into action. If you are looking for support with your breakup then my new book “The Split – 30 days from Breakup to Breakthrough” is out now on Amazon. It will give you your own step by step 30 Day Plan to cope with your breakup and ensure you keep your momentum moving forward.
Divorce doesn’t need to be an aggressive severing if you take action to think how to best support everyone before you make the decision.
Being kind and doing the right thing will serve you well in the long run. If you have children and are feeling guilty then consider what message you are teaching them by staying in an unhappy marriage. Remember you are their role model and they will take their lead from you.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel though and it is true that we only live once so there is no point staying in an unhappy marriage. I firmly believe that divorce can be the best thing that has ever happened to you as it really does give you a chance to redesign your life the way you want it to be. It is true that sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can come together.
Whether you choose to give your marriage another shot or move forward with a separation or divorce, seeking support of your friends and family, along with a counselor specialized in the field of divorce advice, is most essential to your well being.
It is important to not lose sight of the ultimate goal. Both you and your estranged spouse are looking at happiness and resolution. Once your divorce or the bitterness in marriage is behind you, you will gradually be able to pick the pieces and build a happy life once again. Together or individually.
Do not cave into the urge of impulsive decision making, think through and follow the right counsel and steps to make the divorce process more manageable or reviving marriage, in case you decide to reconcile. Make the right judgment call.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.