Before you say “we’re through!”, make sure you’re ready to embark on an arduous and life-changing divorce process. So how do you know if you should act on your impulse? Here are four key questions to help you determine if your marriage deserves a second chance, or if you’re ready for divorce.
Have I taken responsibility for my part in the problem? Instead of focusing on what your spouse is doing wrong, take time to reflect and ask yourself what you could change, both to improve the health of your marriage and your own well-being. Do you try to meet your spouse’s needs or do you ignore his or her requests because you’re keeping score? Do you have a mental health issues (i.e., depression) or addiction you’re not dealing with? Have you gone to individual therapy to work on long-standing issues? If you take 100% responsibility for your 50% of the problem, and your marriage still isn’t improving, then it may be time to move on.
Do I have an attachment problem? People who have anxious or avoidant attachment styles tend to experience more problems in relationships than those with secure attachment. Anxiously attached adults don’t believe they can count on their partners, so they tend to use dysfunctional “protest behaviors” to test their SO’s commitment: either being needy or pushing away. Avoidantly attached adults feel burdened by their partner’s needs, so they put up walls to prevent closeness. If you identify with either one of these attachment styles, get therapy to help you change behaviors that are sabotaging your marriage.
Have I done my divorce homework? Make sure you know your rights and have a solid grasp on the divorce process before you announce you want one. Do your homework ahead of time by consulting with a family law attorney. Questions to ask: how long is the divorce timeline? How will the divorce affect me financially? What are my custody options? What’s the difference among mediation, collaborative divorce, and litigation? You might also consider consulting with a therapist who specializes in divorce to understand the emotional issues you may grapple with. Getting clear on what divorce entails will help you decide if you’re making the right choice, and are ready to move forward.
How will divorce affect my kids? The impact of divorce on kids varies due to the nature of the split, your co-parenting relationship, and your children’s temperament. As a general rule, conflict hurts kids more than divorce. Children who grow up with warring parents who stay married may suffer more than those whose parents who divorce amicably and co-parent effectively. Kids who are more resilient by nature will have an easier time adjusting to divorce than kids who are highly sensitive and/or have emotional issues. Consider consulting a child and adolescent therapist to learn how divorce impacts kids in different developmental stages. Gaining insight into divorce’s effect on children may motivate you to keep working on your marriage – or give you the impetus to get out.
Where are your answers to to these questions leading you?
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