It's pretty typical that most people are thinking about divorce for a long time before they actually do it. At least this is true for the person initiating the divorce. However, for the person being divorced it can be a different story and in some cases it comes as a complete surprise.
A woman I counseled with her husband years ago found out about her divorce by a knock on her door from the Sheriff on a Friday night. She reminded me last week -- "He dumped me 2 weeks before Halloween!"
In troubled marriages divorce is often threatened well before it's acted upon. The "D-word" as I call it should be treated like a four-letter word and only used when being seriously considered. Unfortunately, it's often used to threaten, intimidate or control the other spouse and so becomes a weapon to hurt the partner.
Thinking about divorce is actually a really good thing. It's certainly not a decision that should be made without a good amount of consideration. Yet just as the word divorce can be misused so too can contemplating divorce.
Different Ways People Think About Divorce
Thinking about divorce can mean a lot of things. It can be dreaming about how much better life would be without your partner. This kind of fantasization can be dangerous as it often creates expectations that are unrealistic or impossible.
When contemplating divorce the realities of life need to be seriously considered, so thoughts about where to live, child visitation, how family responsibilities will be divided and get done, bill paying, etc. must be a big part of the thinking. This form of divorce thinking is constructive and necessary, but must be kept in check so it's productive and doesn't turn into another form of fantasization.
Wondering about divorce because you think your marriage is headed there is common too. This form of divorce thought is usually driven by fear, apprehension and creates anxiety. It some marriages it's completely understandable, but often becomes destructive because the concerns become worries and then fears that are not communicated or resolved.
Been married for over 7yrs with 3 kids but my husband is not sexualy attracted to me. I constantly find him in keeping of condoms, which he doesn't use with me of course and he is addicted to pornography. I feel very miserable and abandoned. I think I am on the highway to a divorce." -Jenn
What Divorce is Really Like
Part of thinking about divorce must include considering what divorce will be like. We all know that divorce isn't good. It's costly financially, emotionally, mentally, and even physically. There are a lot of negatives to divorce, and while we may not know specifically what that will look like for us, we know they will happen. Nevertheless, and despite all of the negatives, before starting the divorce process it's easy to over focus on the perceived positives of changing your life, being free of your spouse, and finding a relationship that makes you happy.
One man I'm counseling right now imagines divorce will give him the opportunity to find a new partner who will give him the kind of "lustful love" that he feels he doesn't get from his wife now. He wants a wife who's passionate about having sex with him and thinks that divorce will give him this. Although only a few years away from retirement and facing losing half his retirement savings in divorce, which will mean a very different retirement, he's still more drawn to the possibility of what we wants to divorce to give him than he is the reality that he'll face as a nearly 60-year-old divorced man.
Whether or not to stay married should not come down to things like money. But there are real, tangible changes that happen after divorce that must be considered when making this decision. For instance, for divorces after age 50 household income drops 23% for men and 41% women. Everyone's lifestyle changes with divorce. Not only is there less money than before, but routines change as well. For example, if you have kids then on the days you have them every parenting responsibility falls solely on you. No more your wife picks them up from school or your husband bathes them and gets them to bed. You'll have to change your schedule and lifestyle so you do it all. It's a really tough adjustment for many.
Think for a minute about the things your partner does right now that makes your life easier. Grocery shopping, laundry, earns income...what else? Now think about what it will be like not to have that any more.
There's a lot more to divorce (negative) than just getting your spouse out of your life (positive). Besides, in most cases the reality is your spouse won't be gone anyway because if you have kids, especially younger ones, you're likely to still be interacting with each other on a daily basis just like you do now.
I have never posted anything online its scary... here's my story: I'm 31, married for 6 years now, know my wife for 7, have 2 kids, 5 and 6 months. I love my wife, I always have, never cheated but lately flirting around in the cyberspace, imagining myself cheating I think as a means of arousing myself... my wife isn't sexual and hasn't been ever since we got married, we do have sex but it is not passionate and doesn't happen often. She is sort of a control freak, wants to spend every second of the day with me which I love but hate at the same time coz I need my space and she doesn't understand this... we've had so many fights about this. I feel unhappy, I feel I need to be away from her, I don't feel happy anymore, I don't enjoy spending time with her at all, it feels like a chore instead of something I should enjoy... I feel I should be happier, life should be easier, we fight a lot about money, she overspends so much and I just try my best to keep her happy but she doesn't work so it gets on my nerves... (we have a cleaning lady, a cook comes like twice a week, and she doesn't work) I told her many times to find a job not only for the money (even if it would help) but for herself, not to become depressed or feel empty... don't know what else to say... I've contemplated many times divorce but I don't know. I'm sure it would be devastating to her and the kids... help?" -Anonymous
Divorce is likely going to be devastating for both Anonymous and his wife.
Should I Get a Divorce?
Anyone who gives you an answer to the question if you should get a divorce is doing you a big, big disservice. This is a huge, life-changing decision that should only be made by you. Just as only you should decide whom and when you marry, only you should decide when you divorce.
Your life will never be the same after a divorce and you'll be the one that will have to live in it every day. The biggest issues when getting divorced typically revolve around kids and money. Each of the areas can have a huge daily impact on your life and shouldn't be minimized or underestimated.
Many people are never given the option to make the decision about divorce for themselves because their spouse makes it for them. I was counseling a woman last night whose divorce was just finalized last week. She again emphasized (as she cried) that it was her desire to work at fixing the marriage, but her husband didn't want to and chose a divorce for both of them.
My husband is angry a great deal of the time. He doesn't care that it makes me feel emotionally unsafe. I've had lengthy discussions with him about his anger & he doesn't think he has a problem, says he's just stressed. We are 20 years in to a marriage that I would say has been fairly "normal" up until a few years ago. I am considering divorcing ;him. I love him but I don't feel loved or emotionally safe. I have become withdrawn and distance myself from him to avoid conflict. I suggested counselling, and he agreed but never followed through. I've told him I want a divorce and he tells me to go ahead and divorce him. My question? Is there anything I can do to save this marriage?" -Sophie
Answering the question should I get a divorce should be something you do yourself after much contemplation and consideration of all of the options, factors and possible outcomes. However, you can get some assistance if it's the right kind.
How to Prepare for Divorce
The best way to prepare for a divorce is to talk to a few professionals. Of course, everyone thinks this means an attorney, and this is one professional to speak with, but also talking to therapist who has experience in divorce counseling can be invaluable, especially in learning how to navigate the process and minimize the damage to yourself and your children if you have them.
There are financial experts who can be very helpful as well. Another woman I am counseling through her divorce has spoken a couple of times to a financial advisor to learn how to best handle the financial assets she will be getting. There are tax implications for how assets are split, investment decisions that may need to be made, and spousal and child support payments that need to be decided as to what's best for each person.
All of these questions and decisions can be overwhelming. Having unbiased professionals who do this everyday to guide you through the process can make a big difference in determining what your life after divorce will be like.
Another important way to prepare is to plan your steps. Divorce isn't just a decision but also a process. The average divorce takes more than a year to complete, so preparing for that journey is very important.
I have been married to my wife for 19 yrs now we have three children together the oldest being 19 we became best friends in high school. Graduated then shortly after became pregnant. I felt so in love I proposed. She said yes and we got married and had two more children but the intimacy hasn't always been 100% sincere as she says it's forced. She will not kiss me intimately she tells me she loves me as I do the same I'm always telling her she's beautiful although she thinks she's ugly. We've had our ups and downs it started about 5 yrs ago when she had a relationship with another man from her work. We fought for a while went to counseling and eventually got back together after I had to move out for a month (at her request) to make her feel the spark again. For the last 5 years it's been pretty good. Still no intimate kissing but plenty of signs of affection. Until two weeks ago. We were at a bar witch I told her I wanted to cut back on. A guy comes up who she works with grabs her face and kisses her on the cheek. I suddenly was brought back to 5 yrs prior and started loosing trust again. Then one night she tells me she's going out to another bar with her friends without me and she will be about 2 hrs. 4.5 hrs later I freak out, call her no answer, so I go to that bar now 2 am and confront her. Only problem is I'm mad and yelling uncontrollably at her. I go home she follows I pack my stuff and tell her I don't have to put up with this and leave for two days without any contact. When I get home I explained my reasoning (right or wrong) I said I didn't want to yell at you in front of the kids and I needed time to cool off and think. Obviously it was a bad move on my end because she thought I had ran off to cheat. But I have never did that the whole entire marriage and I believe she hadn't either intimately. So now we are arguing a lot and not trusting each other. Then she says she wants out she loves me but not in love more of a friendship. So I move out again (at her request) she starts acting like a bachelorette then has a party and has the guy that kissed her that she works with there for a short while. My wife's friend brought her new boyfriend and they were drinking until 1am. The next day I over hear my wife's other friend talking about that guy rubbing my wife's back and her friend getting mad. As soon as I heard that that's all I needed to hear I started to yell again I want a divorce! So I drove home she showed up shortly there after and I gave her the ultimatum leave if you want a divorce or stay and start working on us as a whole Family. She tells me again that she loves me and cares for me but in not in love with me. And she wants out but doesn't want a full fledged divorce instead a legal separation. Which absolutely breaks my heart, loosing sleep, not eating. She's going to look for a place of her own then move out. Do I have any hope at all?" -Byron
Take the time to thoroughly consider the decision to get a divorce. It's not one to make impulsively like Byron and his wife are doing. Thinking about divorce is a very important process to do before acting. However, it can either be done effectively and yield beneficial results, or it can be very destructive.
Are you thinking about divorce too? Please share your story with others by leaving a comment below.
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