Marriage can have its ups and downs and with divorce rates of about 40% (higher for second marriages, and even higher for thirds), it’s easy to understand why so many couples consider divorce when their relationship is on the rocks. Infidelity, financial problems, children, abuse, and substance or gambling addiction are some of the most commons reasons why people divorce, as they feel betrayed, hurt, or unloved.
When considering divorce, at least one spouse (and sometimes both) is not ready for divorce. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before making this life-changing decision:
1) What are your needs and is your spouse meeting them?
Do you know if your spouse is capable of meeting those needs? Before you file for divorce, commit to meeting with a therapist for several sessions and discussing your situation. Focus on your personal feelings and needs first, and then involve your partner in your therapy sessions when you’re ready to have an honest discussion and work on your relationship together. If you have very specific problems you want to work on, a family mediator may be able to help also. Marriage is a two-way relationship and it has to work for both partners. If therapy or mediation works, it was worth it. If it doesn’t, it was worth it too, as you can tell yourself you’ve tried your best to make the marriage work, and you won’t have any regrets down the road.
2) Are you staying in your marriage because everyone around you tells you this is the right thing to do? Or are you considering divorce because others tell you that you’ll be better off?
Remember, this is your life and therefore your choice, so take your time. You’ll be the one facing the consequences so you want to be sure you’re ready to accept your fate.
3) Are you really ready to face life and all of its financial responsibilities on your own? Can you become financially independent if you get a divorce?
Before filing for divorce, make sure all of your papers are in order and your financial path is clear.
4) Can you handle life’s disappointments and ups and downs on your own? Do you have a strong support system of family and friends you can rely on when you need emotional or physical help?
Planning is everything and you want that support in place before you need it.
5) If you have children, are you staying in this marriage for their sake alone?
If so, ask yourself if you’d want them to be in a marriage that looks like yours. If you can’t find the strength within yourself to leave, do not look to your children for support and motivation..
They should not be brought into the decision. After you've made your choice they can learn that walking away from a bad situation takes courage, especially when facing uncertainty.
A few circumstances require you to make a major change in your marriage and living arrangements immediately, such as domestic violence, child abuse, verbal abuse, substance abuse and other addictions. Don’t let the cycle of abuse start or last any longer. Leave immediately and take the children with you. If you’re not sure what to do, call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 for free, or call 911. Once removed from the situation, start counseling sessions for you and your children to address the abusing situation and the bullying behavior right away. You may want to consider obtaining a restraining order to keep your spouse away from you and the children while this behavior continues.
Remember that fear is a perfectly acceptable feeling when considering divorce. You’ll be afraid of making a mistake, wary of what the future holds and how you’ll cope. It’s important not to let fear control your behavior and attitude. Divorce is painful for everyone involved, so the more amicable and collaborative you can be during the process, the better off you, your partner and your children will be. And remember that with the help of a family law mediator, you’ll be able to reach an agreement in a few weeks, rather than getting tangled up in court for months or even years.
To learn more about the mediation process, complete our request for a free online evaluation, and to receive a free 30-minute phone consultation, visit us at www.afairway.com, or call 619-702-9174.