If your marriage is like this...you may be looking at the end.
Coming face-to-face with the question "Should I get a divorce?" is one of the most sobering events of a person's life. No matter how you answer the question, your answer will not only change your life, but the lives of your spouse and kids too. There's just a lot to consider in trying to answer this question.
So it makes sense to search for some guidance on how to make this critical decision. This is one of those moments in life when it's WISE to ask for help. (I sure did when I started thinking about divorce.)
Unless you or your kids are being abused by your spouse, your spouse has untreated addictions, or the example of marriage you're providing for your children is horrible, the signs you should get a divorce are generally murky.
The truth is the signs you should get a divorce are often murky because what's a deal breaker for one couple, is just a bump in the road for another.
If you're asking yourself "should I get a divorce" chances are it's more than a bump in the road. BUT, you have to look closely to find the truth.
The only way to know is to take a serious and sober look at you and your spouse individually and then at the marriage you've created together.
Remember, in any marriage there are 3 entities: you, your spouse and the life you've created together.
Let's start with your spouse. How much do you believe they love you? Do you believe they would be willing to make the changes necessary to make your marriage better?
Most people are surprised by how willing their spouse is to make them happy - all it requires is that you ask for what you want. But crossing the chasm of your fears to actually ask for what you want can be really tough.
Often you have to push yourself to figure out what you want more: to stay in your safe zone and not risk asking for what you want OR get an answer to the question "should I get a divorce?"
If you want to know if you should get a divorce, you have to tackle these things:
- No one is a mind reader. One huge mistake people often make is they believe their spouse should somehow intuitively "know" how to love them. But the truth is that no one is a mind reader. Most people think they're doing their best to show their spouse love and it comes as a shock when they hear it's not working. Your spouse may get a bit defensive at first, but if your spouse really loves you, within reason he or she will likely do what it takes to get things back on track.
- It might be your delivery. You might not be asking for what you want in a way that your mate understands. For example, if you tell your spouse that you don't feel like they love you anymore, BUT you don't tell them what it would take for you to feel that love again... there's no formula to get things back on track. In this event, you leave them guessing and consequently, they will use their best guess to figure out what you want.
The problem is, people want to love in different ways and chances are, if you're looking for signs that you should get a divorce, you will be right. Mistakenly right, but right nonetheless. Because we love differently, (a great book on this topic is Gary Chapman's The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts) and that is critical to finding and staying happy.
Let's be real here, if you put the truth out there and you say what you need in a way that your spouse can hear AND you don't get your needs met, that is the biggest sign that you should get a divorce. Unless you're willing to negotiate what you want from your marriage, your spouse's refusal to change is a definite sign you should get a divorce.
Now, let's look at you. Are you living the life you want in your marriage AS the person you want to be in the world? Or, have you become someone else - someone you neither recognize nor like? If you feel like a piece of you is dying or has already died as a result of being in your marriage, if you're keeping track of the signs that you should get a divorce, this is a powerful signal to consider closely.
Ideally, marriage allows each spouse to grow and change and experience the best of life. Spouses support and nurture each other. They bring out the best in each other more often than not.
When everything else has been considered, the true deal breakers and signs you should get a divorce are:
- Your marriage is suffocating - you literally cannon breathe inside of it and to stay would be to choose to snuff out the light inside of you. If that is happening, it's time to pack and run. Get out of this cage and figure out what you have to do to salvage your own life.
- You can truly say in your heart that you have done everything you are willing to and can do, but your marriage isn't getting better.
- Your spouse is unwilling or unable to make the specific changes you've requested (in language they understand)
However, if you've not explored what you can do to make your marriage better. You need to do that. If you've not done what you can to change things for the better, you owe it to yourself, your spouse and your kids to do that before making any decision about divorce. I believe that's the only way that you'll be able to look yourself in the eyes in years to come and know you've made the right decision today.