Is my marriage over? Should I get a divorce? How to know when to divorce? Signs you are ready for divorce?
Feeling exasperated by a failing marriage. Well, relationships are funny. Who we lust after in the beginning is not always a good match for us in the end.
Marriages that start off hot and full of fire can end up an icy, cold mess up because the key to making things last is in commonalities, shared interests, and healthy coping; that chemical attraction stuff is simply the starter pack.
So if you’re noodling the idea of when to get a divorce, it’s likely that you and your spouse got lost somewhere in the tepid in-betweens.
There is an understanding that the relationship is more important than either person, and though the marriage might lose some of the heat (as do all long-term relationships), the couple sits satisfactorily in comfortable warmth.
If you are in a successful marriage, then no matter the extent of your conflicts, you would always be fighting for your marriage.
The sacrifice of self makes sense to the happy pair because the value of the relationship as penultimate is understood.
Valuing the ‘we’ more than ‘me’
Marriage is a shared life, one that both partners partake in as their authentic selves.
And just as a football team would fail if only the quarterback’s needs were met, or a kitchen collapse if the sous chef is ignored, a healthy pairing is one where two people are consistently able to value the ‘we’ more than the ‘me.’
So when you are deciding to divorce, it is usually a sign that one or both partners feel disconnected from the pair. And too often, that distance has been growing for some time.
Ending a marriage is often slow, and there’s no universal truth of indicators so as to when you truly started separating. The divide can start with many things, including these often heard complaints:
The relationship with your spouse has negatively changed, either because of a change in communication, level of intimacy, or simply the way you treat each other.
You find you can’t shake that “blah” feeling about your relationship.
You find yourself snooping and spying on your spouse – searching through phone messages, checking social media outlets, etc.
You feel like giving up on your partner because “things will never change.”
You find yourself beginning to feel apathetic toward your spouse, e.g., their pain and joy are no longer shared by you.
You talk about ideas for stuff you want to do, now or in the future, and very little or none of it involves your partner (or vice versa)
Your family makes jokes about whether or not your partner is real because they’re NEVER around.
Your fights have escalated into nastiness, and you find yourself at a junction where either of you won’t shy away from uttering hateful words.
You don’t discuss each other’s work problems or social lives.
You spend more than one night a week sleeping separately.
But just because a relationship isn’t all sunshine, it doesn’t mean there’s not something there to salvage.
The trick is to not look for signs your marriage is over but to identify what feelings exist now and then determine the best path forward.
I have seen relationships come back from the brink of death, and I’ve personally helped couples rejuvenate a relationship where the divorce papers had already been served.
With the exception of partnerships where there is abuse (physical, emotional, or mental), trying to breach the divide before heading towards divorce should always be considered a viable option.
If you are indeed in an abusive relationship and are wondering when is it time to divorce, the answer would always be right now and not a moment later.
Good couple work can push you to work at improving your relationship and do amazing things, even if it’s simply to set you and your partner on the best possible path towards a mutually acceptable end.
Just like a dietician might ask you to keep a food diary to see how eating habits influence your health and well-being, so can a relationship diary catalog the health of a marriage.
So, before worrying about when to end a marriage, for 30 days, grid out your relationship interactions and the way they left you feeling.
Were you happy after an evening out together? Smiley face. Did you find yourself questioning life and its meaning once a quarrel had ended over? Probably thumbs down.
Catalog your feelings after an interaction with your spouse as often as possible. Then, at the end of the 30 days, take a look at the trends.
Does being around him/her always leave you feeling unsatisfied? Do you find yourself feeling rejuvenated after seeing their face?
These trends could be the ‘tell’ you and your partner need to successfully uncover what is wrong, and that’s a great deal of knowledge that can help in allowing things to get better.
Divorce is a big deal
Divorce is a pretty heavy decision, one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. As a society as a whole, we could be doing a little better job with the whole marriage situation.
For starters, we should really be ensuring we only enter into marriage with the right match.
Sadly, many of us aren’t given great examples of what a healthy relationship looks like from the start. So we enter into marriage with discord already afoot.
But even then, we should be ensuring we’ve exhausted all possible avenues before we give up on the person we thought at one time would be with us for all of life’s great adventures.
Some relationships cannot be salvaged. And what’s more, some actually shouldn’t be because of the negative impact the relationship has on the people in it.
There is no shame in that. And if you are questioning if your marriage is healthy, in all honesty, it probably isn’t. But that doesn’t mean you need to chuck it.
You might just need to make some changes in your relationship. And when change is embraced by both partners, it can be the bridge the chasm between you and your partner and help ‘you’ make it back to ‘we.’
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.
Crystal Rice is licensed as a graduate social worker (LGSW) and is certified in Advanced Trauma Treatment. She has worked as a therapist and coach and is skilled in creating an atmosphere of trust, collaboration and the possibility of change among couples.
She believes in working with peoples strengths and offers honest feedback and ideas, also addresses unhelpful behavior patterns.