6 Min Read
- Knowing When Divorce Should Be Considered
- Why Am I Considering Divorce?
- Am I Ready To Move On?
- Am I Ready For The Consequences Of Divorce?
- What To Take Away
Things have been tough lately. Maybe they’ve been tough for longer than you’d like to admit. You might have thought they would get better, but now it doesn’t look that way. Perhaps you’ve even been considering a major change – like divorce. And now you’re wondering if that’s really the next step. How do you know? What are the signs you are ready for divorce?
Divorce is a huge, life altering change. Much like it was when you entered the marriage that you're now considering ending. This means feeling sure that you’re making the right decision is crucial. But the signs that you are ready for divorce can be deceptive.
Many couples find that out the hard way after making a rash decision fueled by emotion. What they’re left with is a mess of broken relationships, heartache, and regrets.
So how do you know if it’s the right choice? Truly, only you (and your spouse) can answer that.
But, if you’ve been wondering if your marriage is really over, there are some things that you can consider before taking that leap.
Knowing When Divorce Should Be Considered
The road to divorce is very rarely a straight one. Most couples take many detours as they go from happy marriage to initiating divorce.
Along the way they’ve probably considered divorcing, changed their minds, and then considered again, unsure all the way through as to whether divorce is the best (or only) option. Maybe they’ve gone to marriage counseling, or even tried a trial separation, and are still unclear as to what’s next.
Dr. Kurt works weekly with couples in different states of marital crisis. When asked about couples facing divorce and the how they arrive at that point he 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 really 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're 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’re considering a divorce because you think it might jar your spouse into changing their behavior you’re likely not ready for a divorce.
People often express anger in their marriage 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 ready.
Strong feelings of anger within a relationship sometimes is an indication there are still feelings between you and your spouse. Anger and love are similar in that both are fueled by passion. Feeling angry can be a sign that you still care about your spouse and their behaviors. With the right communication and professional help, it’s possible for that anger to be resolved and positive feelings to return.
And decisions made in haste or anger won’t resolve the underlying problem. In fact, divorce doesn’t end problems - it just means you take them with you into the next phase of your life. If you're in an overly emotional state you're likely to be better served or helped by couples counseling rather than divorce court.
If you believe you’ve 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’re ready for divorce either however, but it could mean you're 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’re 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're truly ready to give up on that idea, or could it be possible (with new tools and approach) that you and your spouse 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're 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 and create additional problems.
For instance, there are almost always signs and symptoms of depression that accompany such a monumental 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 difficult to do. There will undoubtedly be feelings you hadn’t anticipated, and it can become overwhelming. If you’re divorcing, it’s important to be aware of depression symptoms and know what to do if you are depressed. Being willing to get help if needed, is crucial.
In addition to being emotionally jarring, divorce requires you to deal with many of life’s practicalities as well:
- Living situation
- Material possessions
- Family relationships
These 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've created, its familiarity, and all that comes with the person that you’ve been sharing it with.
Am I Ready For The Consequences Of Divorce?
Lastly, if you feel that you’re seeing all the signs that you're 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 usually 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.
Know that 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 and lasting 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?
Before you answer, I can tell you that you haven’t because it’s nearly impossible to anticipate all the ways divorce can impact you. No matter what you’ve thought about, there will be surprises and most will be unpleasant. The fact is divorce is very messy.
What To Take Away
No one gets married with a plan to divorce. We all hope for the best as we plan our lives with the person we've 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 believe you’ve seen all the signs that 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.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published January 24, 2018 and has been updated with new information for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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