Divorce is one of the most important emotional and financial decisions anyone can make, so be sure you’re acting out of reason, not impulse. How do you know when it’s time to pull the plug on your marriage? Here are 3 questions to help you decide.
\Have You Done Everything You Can To Make Yourself Happy?
The grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence; it’s just different grass. If you’ve historically felt a bit empty, discontent, and searching for someone or something to give your life meaning, divorce is not the answer. Leaving your marriage means creating a new identity, a new home, perhaps a new social circle, and the pressure of providing for yourself and your children with less money at your disposal.
So before you embark on a path lined with new stressors, make sure you’ve done everything you can to make yourself happy: therapy, 12-step groups, developing a spiritual practice. If, after six months to a year of working hard on your personal growth, you still feel that you cannot live a life of integrity by remaining in your marriage, then it’s time to consider divorce.
Have You Done Everything You Can To Improve Your Marriage?
You don’t want to look back in ten years and kick yourself because you didn’t make a concerted effort to fix your marital problems. Stop obsessing about all the annoying things your spouse does and start focusing on the things you can do to change. Here is a list of common problems that damage relationships, and will follow you into your next one:
- Substance abuse.
- Untreated mental health issues.
- Emotional reactivity, meaning quick to anger, cry, or descend into a pit of despair and panic.
- Refusal to behave like an adult: not picking up after yourself or sharing household tasks.
- Financial mismanagement.
- Ignoring your spouse’s sexual needs and requests.
- Ignoring your spouse’s requests for emotional connection.
- Letting your parents run your marriage.
- Prioritizing work, friends, addictions, over your marriage.
- Avoiding your spouse by over-focusing on your children.
- Letting your spouse shoulder all the tough aspects of child-rearing while you show up for all the fun stuff.
If you’re doing any of these things, you need to change your behavior and acquire the skills necessary for a successful relationship. Individual and couples therapy can help you do that.
Have You Done Your Divorce Homework?
Listening to your friends’ and family’s advice does not constitute homework! Aunt Sally’s divorce in another state ten years ago has nothing to do with yours. When researching the divorce process, the only people you should talk to are the appropriate professionals: family law attorneys, financial planners and CPAs, and therapists who specialize in divorce. You need to understand the legal steps involved in ending your marriage, as well as the financial implications for your particular situation. It’s also helpful to prepare for the emotional aspects of divorce so you can shift your relationship with your spouse from romantic partners to co-parents.
Taking the time to answer these questions will help you decide whether to stay or go. Divorce is never easy, but youwill rest easier when you know you did everything you could to make your marriage work, and everything you could to prepare for this next phase of your life.
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