“Should I Get a Divorce?” The Dreaded Marriage Question
“Should I get a divorce?” This is one of life’s hardest questions, and there’s no “one size fits all” answer. It’s highly individualized. But if you are thinking about it, or might be considering it as a possibility, there’s some things you should consider.
For the record: we don’t believe that every marriage is salvageable. There are toxic people in this world, and being married to one is not only unfulfilling, it can damage your health physically, mentally, and emotionally.
But we also put a lot of value in really considering the options before making such a big decision. (So much so that we teach people about healthy relationships!) Marriage can be joyful and fulfilling under the right circumstances, and we want you to be able to avoid divorce and save your marriage if you can. I you think you should get a divorce, keep reading to find out.
When is it time to get a divorce?
Probably everyone who’s ever been married has asked themselves, “should I get a divorce?” The problem is, WHEN. Does the “right time” for divorce ever truly come along?
The truth is, divorce should be an absolute last resort. There are a lot of things you can work on before getting a divorce. People wonder how you can know if your marriage is over – and there’s really only 3 simple reasons. If whatever you’re going through in your marriage isn’t one of those reasons, that means you marriage can be saved.
That is, if you’re willing to do the work. And, as luck would have it, there’s a lot of things you can do to reconnect with your spouse to avoid divorce.
Why are you considering divorce?
The only way to know if you should get a divorce is by getting really clear on why you’re even considering it. What are the things you’re dissatisfied with? What are the root causes of those things? Are they things you and your spouse can manage to fix ? These are important questions to ask yourself (and your spouse) if you’re contemplating divorce.
But there’s one other important vantage point we’re going to look at, that you probably haven’t considered before.
Attachment vs. Connection
Let’s take a scenario: you’re unhappy in your marriage, and you think you might want a divorce. You’ve felt this way for years, but you stay in the marriage anyway. Why? It may come down to just one thing: attachment vs. connection
Attachment: focuses on the past and the future. It causes you to say things like, “we’ve been together so long – if we quit now we’d be throwing away so much history, and I’d be left with nothing.” Attachment = “I need him/her”.
Connection: focused on the present. It causes you to feel fulfilled, valued, and supported. It leaves you feeling confident that, although you believe you’re capable of living a happy successful life on your own, this person adds to your life by making it better. Connection = “I want him/her”.
Connection doesn’t need someone. It wants them there. It loves their support but it doesn’t need it. Connection is based in love. Attachment needs someone there. It needs validation and keeps you rooted in the past. Attachment is based in fear of losing something that’s already gone.
A lot of the times we become so attached to the idea of something (or someone) that we forget to focus on what is actually happening in real life. Attachment makes you feel safe and comfortable so you end up staying with someone who is toxic to you.
But this feeling of safety and comfort is really just a disguise for fear. You’re afraid of what life will be like without this person. More specifically, you’re afraid life will be bad without this person. When this happens, you may not be considering reality.
What’s kept you from getting a divorce up to this point?
This is a simple exercise. In the life you’ve built with your spouse, what is it that’s still keeping you together? There are probably a lot of things, and you should make note of all of them.
Ask yourself, “do I still love this person? Do they bring value to my life in any way?” The answer is completely individual. But if you have any apprehension about divorce at all (which I hope you do), there’s something valuable that’s keeping you in the marriage.
When your spouse has hurt you, it’s really easy to adopt the “grass is greener” mentality – that if you’d married someone else, or made different choices, that things would all be better. The reality is, that’s not true. Every relationship, at some point, faces difficulty. You can’t get around it.
When you find yourself in this position, it’s time to work on expressing gratitude to your spouse. Gratitude changes attitude, as we like to say. Practice looking at your spouse in high regard, and you might be surprised at how your marriage changes.
Is there mutual willingness to change?
There are certain things that determine the workability of your marriage, and one of them is a willingness to change. If you’re considering divorce at any level, chances are there’s something in your marriage that’s not working. And it’s either coming from you, your spouse, or a combination of both. It’s important to realize here that any improvement worth making will require a change in behavior or attitude.
In order to fix what’s not working, you must identify the things that aren’t going right. This is usually relatively easy. Ask yourself this question: “what do I need that I’m not getting?” The answer to that question will help you determine what needs fixing.
But the other part of the equation is whether one or both of you is willing to make the necessary changes that are required to fix the problem. If you’re both willing to work on things, then GREAT!
It’s a two-step process toward improvement: 1) identify the problem, and 2) develop a strategy/compromise/solution for that problem and work on it together.
If one, or both of you, is fundamentally unwilling to change your behaviors and/or attitudes, then this is where you hit a roadblock. If what can’t be changed is of great value and deep importance to you, and your need will continually go unmet, considering divorce may be the path you find yourself on.
Is divorce right for you?
Only you can determine the answer to this question. We can only guide you on your way there. Take the quiz below to help you determine if divorce is right for you.