Divorce is one of the most life-impacting events you can go through, one that affects not only you but your partner and children. It makes sense then to tread slowly when you are weighing the decision to stay or go.
You would do well to take your time when deciding whether or not divorce is right for you unless you are in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship.
How can you know if divorce is right for you?
No one has a crystal ball, unfortunately, so seeing what your future might look like should you divorce is impossible.
You are basically placing a wager that your imagined future is going to be better than your current real-life situation.
Let’s look at some tools you can use to help you make this tough decision. These are tools top decision-makers utilize to help them arrive at a reasonable choice, whether it be for something personal or professional.
First, let’s analyze why this decision is so hard
Deciding if divorce is right for you is a challenging process because when you imagine either path yes, we should divorce, or no, let’s stay married, you cannot see a clear winner.
It is easier to decide between two choices when one choice is obviously better than the other, such as “Should I go out and party all night, or stay home and study for my final exam?” Also, if there are still some parts of your marriage that are enjoyable, deciding if divorce is right for you is not a clear-cut choice.
What you need to look at is if the bad parts of the relationship outweigh the enjoyable ones.
Making a list of the pros and cons of each outcome
Grab a pen and paper and draw a line down the middle of the paper, making two columns. The column on the left-hand side is where you are going to note all the pros to divorcing. The column on the right-hand side is where you will list all of the cons.
Some of your pros may include
The end of fighting with the husband, no longer having to live with someone who was continually disappointing, or abusive, or absent, or addicted, or ignoring you.
Living and raising your children the way you feel is best for them, no longer having to gather consensus for every joint-decision.
Freedom to date and find a new partner who is more in line with what you need and wants in a love relationship. Freedom to be yourself, and not have to hide your light because your husband doesn’t encourage you to be who you are, or mocks you for it.
Some of your cons may include
The financial impact of living on your own. The psychological impact on your children. Your family, religious community’s reaction to a divorce. Having sole responsibility for childcare, household maintenance, car repairs, grocery shopping, what happens if you get ill, or you lose your job.
You don’t hate your spouse
Sometimes the decision to divorce is very easy. Your spouse is abusive and you hate him and every shared moment with him. But when it isn’t that black and white, and you still have a fondness for your spouse, you question if should move towards divorce.
In this case, ask yourself: is your marriage a happy, peaceful place. Do you look forward to coming home and having time with your partner? Are you excited for the weekend to arrive so you can be together, doing couple things? Or do you seek outside activities, away from your spouse, just so you can avoid interacting with him?
You don’t need to actively hate your spouse to justify divorce. You may care about him, but recognize that your marriage is a dead-end and not an enriching situation for anyone.
You are still having sex, but that doesn’t mean you have a great marriage
There are loads of divorced couples who will tell you that had a hot sex life, but it wasn’t enough to keep them together. Physical intimacy is easy. It’s the emotional intimacy that makes for a good marriage. If you are in a situation where you are still sleeping with your husband but that is the only connection you share, no one would be surprised if you decided to divorce.
Marriage is not just about on-demand sex. It should include an intellectual and emotional bond as well.
Change is scary and divorce is a change
When contemplating divorce, you will learn if you are a risk-taker or risk-avoider. Risk-avoiders will prefer to stay in a dying marriage rather than take a chance that the changing divorce provokes will lead to a happier life.
What happens to these risk-avoiders is sure, they stay in their relationships, but they miss out on the chance of building something great with another person. They are not honoring themselves and what they deserve in a marriage.
The risk-taker will choose change, knowing that it is scary but can ultimately bring them towards a relationship that is more in line with what they need to honor themselves—partnering with a person who loves and respects them, and who is truly happy to be part of their life.
Finally, consider these questions
Your honest answers will help you clarify which way you should go: to divorce or not to divorce.
- Does every discussion become a fight?
- During these fights, are you constantly bringing up negative things from your mutual past?
- Have you lost all respect and admiration for each other?
- Is your partner disdainful of your personal-growth initiatives, dissuading you from branching out and trying new things?
- People change over time, but has your partner changed so much that you are no longer aligned with moral, ethical, personal and professional views?
- Are your fights unproductive, never resulting in an acceptable compromise? Does one of you just give up and walk away each time you argue?
If you answer yes to all or most of those questions, divorce may be the right decision for you.
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.