How To Know When Divorce Is The Right Answer


    6 Min Read


    Things are hard. You and your spouse fight all the time and you no longer have the energy or desire to continue and try to make things work. It feels like you’re out of options so you’re wondering when divorce is the right answer, or possibly the only answer that makes any sense anymore.

    Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone.

    Deciding when divorce is the right answer is difficult. Many, and I mean MANY, couples find themselves at the point in their relationship where it seems the only answer to what feels like unrelenting misery is divorce. At times there may even be friends or family members who can’t see any other option and encourage a couple to get divorced.


    So, maybe it is the best idea then, right? If you’ve gotten to the point where you just can’t stand to be around each other, and just being in your marriage makes you feel sad and depressed, maybe divorce is actually the right answer.

    If you’re sadly nodding your head as you read and feeling like you could have written this yourself because it hits so close to home, take a beat and read on.

    Dr. Kurt gets asked all the time by partners how they will know when divorce is the answer. Here's what he had to say,

    Sadly, it’s not uncommon to feel hopeless that your marriage will every get better. So many partners go on for years feeling unhappy and unloved. All the while wondering when exactly divorce is the best answer. If you’re looking to feel content about making the decision to get a divorce, you’re expecting something that’s not likely to happen, or if it does it will be well afterward. Questioning, wondering, and doubting are just the realities of divorce that are impossible to avoid – before, during, or after."

    Evaluating When Divorce Is The Answer To Your Problems

    Divorcing is a big step. And a complicated, painful, disruptive, and expensive answer. So, before you make the choice to divorce, it deserves a lot of soul-searching and evaluation.


    As you’re doing this, ask yourself the following questions. Be honest with yourself about the answers, no one will know them but you.

    • What does the divorce process look like to you? If you haven’t researched it, you should know that process of divorcing takes time and a number of steps. Many couples considering divorce believe that since getting married was easy divorce will be too. Absolutely not the case.

    “But wait,” you say, "We both want the divorce, it will be quick and somewhat painless.” This is also highly unlikely. Whereas getting married can bring out the romantic in a person, divorcing can bring out the vindictive, angry, and resentful.

    • What does life after divorce look like? Eutopia, right? If you’re thinking, “I can jump through all the divorce hoops because things will be better on the other side,” stop – are you sure of that? Many people have mistaken ideas about what things will be like once they divorce. Often, they idealize what being divorced will be like and assume that by divorcing they’re setting themselves free and there’s a green field of happiness awaiting them. They won’t have to deal with the nagging, constant arguing, disagreeable silences and tension, and undercurrent of anger and dissatisfaction that they simmer in daily.

    Let’s be clear about somethingdivorce does not get rid of your problems with your spouse, it just slides them into a different section of your life. And by divorcing you haven’t removed your spouse from your life (especially if there are kids involved), you’ve just complicated their place in it and introduced legal complications that can last way past the divorce.

    • What did you love about your spouse when you were happy? Was she fun and adventurous? Did he make grand, romantic gestures? What about their sense of humor, zest for life, ambition, love of the outdoors, or your shared fondness for Emu’s? Chances are all those things are still there, they’re just now buried under 6 feet of daily grind, work stress, parenting difficulties, financial responsibilities, and exhaustion.

    Have you tried looking for those things that you loved in your spouse recently? Doing so can feel difficult and you may not even want to because of all the built-up anger and frustration. But determining if you can find the person you fell in love with is an important step before deciding to end your marriage.

    • If you have kids, what is divorcing going to do to them? Most divorcing couples recognize the process and change will be difficult for the kids, but they generally don’t look beyond the transition. Everything you do teaches your children about what “normal” is and what they should do as they grow. By divorcing you make the dissolution of a marriage part of their “normal.” If your relationship is abusive, however, you’re also showing them in the process how to take care of themselves.

    And lastly,

    • What have you tried to make your marriage better? If you are seriously considering divorce and haven’t sought marriage counseling, you really aren’t ready. You owe it to yourself, your spouse, your family, and your future to really try before pulling the trigger on something as big as a marriage.


    Steps To Take Before You Divorce

    Deciding when divorce is the right answer means going through a thorough evaluation. You should feel pretty certain, and even then there are still some additional steps to take.

    Before moving forward with a divorce, you need to ensure you’re actually ready. For most couples the most prudent way to do this is through a trial separation.

    Sometimes space is what a couple needs in order to figure out what they really want. This is where separating rather than divorcing can be helpful. Let’s be clear though – separating isn’t a break from marriage, just from the daily interaction with your spouse.

    Separating doesn’t mean you can step back into single life and start dating or hooking up with, well, anyone. In fact, no matter how tempting it is to look for love (or sex) with someone new, doing so still qualifies as cheating. And it’s unfair not only to your spouse, but also to you and especially the person you’ve gotten involved with.


    Determining whether divorce is the answer through separation should be taken seriously and with all the proper considerations. To that end, keep the following steps in mind.

    • Determine how to present a united front as you explain to the kids what’s happening.
    • Agree on a co-parenting plan.
    • Ensure together the finances are covered.
    • Discuss how you will handle social engagements or other couple/family related responsibilities.
    • Make a plan for regular communication.
    • Consider making an effort at things like going for coffee together, talking for the pleasure of it, or anything else that can allow you to see if there’s still hope for your relationship.
    • Set a time frame for the separation. Note – although a separation shouldn’t go on for years, if you are making progress as a couple, this time frame can change as needed. Just be sure you each agree to things and that it’s for positive reasons.

    Once these steps have been taken and you’ve given it some time, you’ll be in a much better position to determine if divorce is really the right step.

    When Divorce Is The Right Answer And Things Are Really Over

    Marriage can be hard. A happy, healthy, and successful marriage takes a lot of work. And it takes an acceptance that 100% happiness 100% of the time isn’t at all possible – for anyone. Allowing the bad times to overshadow the good times, and communication to fail are common mistakes, and can lead to the inaccurate assumption that divorce is the only option.


    Sadly, many couples get so caught up in negative emotions or excitement over the idea of new life that they accelerate what should be a somewhat slow and methodical process and divorce too quickly. This can lead to divorce regrets and further complications and expense down the road.

    So, when you decide divorce is the right answer for you as a couple it’s crucial to do things correctly and cover all your bases. If you’ve done that and you both still want a divorce, then chances are it’s the best decision for you and your spouse.

    Divorce should never be taken lightly or done in haste. But there are times when it is the best answer for a couple, and hopefully each partner’s life will be better on the other side. If that’s you then take the time to seek out the appropriate divorce advice and consider going through divorce counseling as you move through the process.

    Divorcing is never a pleasant process. And many divorces can be avoided if a couple takes the time to do their due diligence and make the right effort. Ultimately, only you and your spouse can determine when divorce is the right answer for your marriage.


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