Things have been tough lately, maybe for longer than you would like to admit. For a while you might have thought they would get better, but now it doesn’t look that way. Perhaps you have been considering a major change – like divorce. But is that really the next step? What are the signs you are ready for divorce?
Divorce is a huge, life altering change. Much like entering into the marriage that you are now considering ending was. The potential signs that you are ready for divorce can be deceptive. So how do you know if it’s the right choice? Truly only you (and your spouse) can answer that. If you have been wondering if your marriage is truly over there are some things that you can consider before taking that leap.
When asked about couples facing divorce and the how they arrive at that point Dr. Kurt had this to say,
Most people think about divorce for a long time before acting on it. This gives them the false belief that they've thought about it thoroughly and are ready to divorce. Even when you've been through it before it's hard to see all of the elements when it's your life. Of all the problems I counsel people through, divorce is one of the ones I think people need the most help with but most often don't get it - and I don't mean legal help. I mean mental and emotional help that only an experienced professional counselor can provide. Having someone guide you, look out for you, someone who's objective and experienced walking alongside you can be invaluable.”
Emotion is a tricky and powerful thing. As much as you can be swept away by love, you can also be swept away by anger and resentment. If you are considering a divorce and think signs are pointing you in that direction, think about the following areas before you take actions that are too hurtful and difficult to undo.
Why Am I Considering Divorce?
Divorce is not a tool to get what you want from your spouse. If you are considering a divorce because you think it might jar your spouse into changing their behavior you are likely not ready for a divorce. People often deal with anger in their relationships by threatening divorce. They think that hearing that word, or facing that possibility will “wake-up” their partner. The reality is that threatening divorce in the heat of the moment, or out of anger is not one of the signs you are ready for divorce, it is a sign you are not.
Strong feelings of anger within a marriage are sometimes an indication that there are still feelings between you and your spouse. And decisions made in haste or anger won’t resolve the underlying problem. In fact, divorce often doesn’t end problems - it just means you take them with you into the next phase of your life. If you are in an overly emotional state you are likely to be better served or helped by couples counseling rather than divorce court.
If you know that you have given and gotten everything possible within this relationship and are experiencing feelings of complete detachment from your spouse, it may be a different story. This might not be one of the signs you are ready for divorce either however, but it could mean you are further down the path. But before you take that step consider what your final objective is and what is motivating you. Remember, relationships go through ups and downs. Is it possible that with effort and perhaps some help you and your spouse can reconnect?
Am I Ready To Move On?
As much as you may think you are ready and that all the signs point to divorce as the right move, there are many things you may not have considered. The fallacy of divorce is that it creates a life without the other person. In most cases that is not possible. Divorces don’t get someone out of your life, they just move them to a different portion of it. For instance, if you have kids you will always be interacting with your ex. Friends, family and finances are likely to keep you somewhere within each other’s world as well.
And have you really, I mean really, thought about your daily life without your spouse? Many people realize after they think long and hard about things that they have romanticized the idea of what life will be like after divorce. When you married you did so for reasons that likely included a desire to build a life together and spend the rest of that life with one another. Ask yourself if you are truly ready to give up on that idea, or could it be possible that you can find a path back to each other and your shared goals?
Being ready to move on is more than just a desire to be rid of your spouse or current situation. If you are still emotionally caught up in your current relationship whether it is good or bad, the change divorce will bring will be difficult to deal with. There are almost always signs and symptoms of depression that accompany such a change. Your emotional reaction to divorce can be difficult to predict, but you will not emerge from it unscathed. Preparing yourself for the emotional fallout is hard. Being aware of depression symptoms and knowing what to do if you are depressed, like being willing to get help if needed, is important.
In addition to being emotionally jarring, divorce requires you to deal with many of life’s practicalities as well. Your living situation, material possessions, finances and friends are all part of your current relationship. Signs that you are ready for divorce include having come to terms with giving up the life you have come to know and person that you have been sharing it with.
Am I Ready For The Consequences Of Divorce?
Lastly, if you feel that you are seeing all the signs that you are ready for divorce, you need to consider the consequences. Divorce affects more than just you and your spouse. There is a great deal of collateral damage that will come along with it – both emotional and material.
The obvious and perhaps most damaging consequences are those related to your children if you have them. Although there are different perspectives on staying together for the sake of children and whether it is the right or wrong thing to do, they must be considered when making such a large decision. Children of divorced parents can find ways to assimilate and come to terms with the new normal, but they will be hurt and will forever carry a certain amount of emotional baggage related to the break-up of their family. Your divorce will become a defining moment within their lives, so the reasons for taking this step should be important enough to justify such a large impact.
And, although marriage is most often entered into because two people are in love, it is also a legal contract. When you take the steps to dissolve a marriage through divorce you must consider the practical consequences to your finances and future. Have you prepared yourself and your family for the changes they will experience in these areas?
No one gets married with a plan to divorce. We all hope for the best as we plan our lives with person we have committed to. That being said, the divorce rate is high (too high in my opinion), and being prepared before taking such a step is crucial. If you think your relationship can’t be saved and have seen all the signs of you are ready for divorce, make sure you give yourself time to consider all the impacts. Just as you shouldn’t get married in haste, you should not get divorced in haste either. And just as planning a wedding and preparing for marriage requires thought and attention to detail, so does the planning and preparation for ending a marriage.
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