Ending a marriage may be the single most difficult decision you will ever have to make. Even though we live in the modern world in which marriage isn’t as strong of an institution as it once was, none of us got married with the intention for it to fail. What is more, we most profoundly believed in that “until death does us part” bit of the ceremony. So, facing the prospect of letting it all go is more than just ending a relationship (which is immensely hard on its own). It’s relinquishing our vision of the rest of our life. And this is often an unbearable burden to some. For the sake of avoiding all that comes with becoming single again (only now a divorcee), many people choose to stay in unhappy and unfulfilling marriages. And many simply have doubts and feel as if things will eventually get not only better but perfect. But, let’s face the music and see when is really the time to call it quits and when there still is something to hold on to, something worth fighting for.
Factors of consideration
There are several factors one needs to carefully consider when deciding on the divorce versus staying in the marriage (but working to change it for the better – if it was good, you wouldn’t be reading this article). These could be divided into two broad categories, values and a general feeling you get from your relationship.
When it comes to values, to those values that make the core of your way of perceiving the world, ideally, yours and those of your spouse would match perfectly. And when you were getting married, you might have thought they do, or you knew they don’t but was too much in love to care or to see that as a potential problem. But when the time passes, people might either change, or the differences in our core values might just come to the surface and become what is to be later called the dreaded “irreconcilable differences” checkbox. These core values regard morality, religion, goals, and aspirations, priorities, parenting style, what you are committed to, how you want to spend your life and your day-to-day reality.
You need to be on the same side as your partner
It is said opposites attract. This might be true for infatuation, but it’s not so when it comes to someone who you plan on spending every day with for the rest of your life and also building the future for you and for your posterity. In such relationship, what you need is to be on the same side with that person, at least when it comes to the majority of these questions. If you’re not, but you are still deeply in love with your spouse, think about whether there might be a way to reconstruct the relationship so that those values you agree on make its core. And the issues you disagree on you might also discuss with a counselor. But if your core values differ greatly, and you feel one or more of the following emotions, you might need to consider separation.
Experiences in marriage
The second category is your overall inner experience of your marriage. To the point – examine your emotional life lately in your marriage, and search the truth about whether you feel safe, loved, and satisfied. Because marriage should come with, ideally, all three of these. But if you experience any form of abuse (physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional), the things need to change. As abuse is not a sound basis for the future. Love is our fundamental need, following basic biological needs such as not being hungry, thirsty, or cold. But if that is missing, and you see no way of getting it back or reigniting the fire, do consider finding happiness somewhere else. And finally, many marriages are sometimes places of dissatisfaction. But they shouldn’t be places of exclusive discontent. If you’re feeling chronically dissatisfied, consider getting a marriage therapist who might help you with getting to the roots of it, and possibly saving the relationship.
What matters the most is your well being
Remember, whatever you decide to do, you will probably always have doubts about whether you made the right call. And this is only normal. It might be the single most difficult decision you will ever have to make. But in the end, the only real indicator of what you ought to do is your own wellbeing. It might sound selfish, but it’s not – what good are you to someone you once loved, or still love, if you’re feeling horrible every day? So, think about everything we discussed in the previous paragraphs, weigh everything, and make the call. In any case, the exciting new chapter of your life begins, and who knows what it brings.
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.