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.
I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are contemplating divorce. “Should you stay, or should you go?” is a powerful question and I’m here to help you make a smart decision that will lead to your greatest happiness… whether you stay OR go. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.
If you’re looking for more help answering the question “Should I stay or should I go?”, read more articles in Unhappy Marriage?.
Yes, there really are some circumstances that require you to get a divorce.
Very few marriages can be characterized as 100% “happily ever after”. Every marriage hits bumps in the road. Every marriage requires effort to make them work.
But sometimes no matter how much work you put in it just doesn’t seem like things get better. Or if they do get better, it’s only for a little while. And that’s what’s brought you to this point – to wondering if you should get a divorce.
And yet it’s so very difficult to know if divorce is the right answer for you. After all, you made a commitment when you got married. You’ve probably invested years in your marriage. And you might even have children together. But there are three situations that demand that you get a divorce:
- Abuse If you or your children are suffering physical, sexual, or emotional abuse from your spouse, you need to get a divorce. Absolutely. Positively. Period.
As much as you’d like to be understanding, forgiving and help your spouse, there’s nothing you can do. Your spouse needs to decide they want to stop being abusive and then get the help they need to change. It will be a long, hard road for them, but your safety and your children’s safety is most important. You must get out of the situation as quickly as possible.
(If you are the abuser, then you need to get the help you need immediately and stop putting your family at risk.)
- Untreated Addictions If your spouse has addictions that they refuse to get treatment for, you need to get a divorce.
Two months after one of my friends married, she found her husband in the bathroom sitting on the counter, making strange sounds and staring into his eyes in the mirror. She immediately called 911. At the hospital, she was told that he was abusing drugs.
Her response to the news was swift. She filed for divorce. She knew there was nothing she could do to make him stop abusing and that she didn’t want to live her life with a drug addict.
If your spouse refuses to seek treatment for their addictions, they are putting you and your children at risk. You need to do what’s best for you and your children’s safety. You need to get a divorce.
(If you have untreated addictions, then you need to get the help you need immediately and stop putting your family at risk.)
- Your Marriage Is A Horrible Example For Your Kids If you wouldn’t want your children to grow up to have the type of marriage you and your spouse have, then you need to get a divorce.
Yes, I’ll admit it. On the surface this sign that you should get a divorce might be a bit less clear than the other two, but it’s just as valid.
As a parent, it’s your job to make sure your children have the best chance of growing up to be healthy, happy, productive adults which includes knowing how to have a healthy relationship. If the example of marriage that you are showing to your kids EVERY DAY is terrible, then how is this helping you to give them the best chance of having a good marriage or even a good relationship? The answer: It’s NOT.
Let me be especially clear on this: If you are working on your marriage to make it better or if you just have periods when things in your marriage are bad, then that’s different from having a bad relationship EVERY DAY that you’re just living with. It’s only those marriages that are bad EVERY DAY that must end for the sake of the children.
Even if you’re in one of these situations and know you should get a divorce, it can be really hard to decide to leave. That’s because this – the way you’re living your life right now – is what normal is to you. It may not have been this way in the beginning, but that’s how it is now. (If it wasn’t normal to you, you’d already be gone.)
But I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to continue to live like this. Your life can definitely be better.
Sometimes it just takes a little extra support. Luckily, there are various support organizations you can call on for help.
You can get additional support in navigating the confusion of divorce by working with a divorce coach. If you’d like to see if working with me is right for you, schedule your 30-minute consultation at www.timetrade.com/book/2N7QJ.
Deciding to divorce is never easy, but if one of these signs you should get a divorce describes your situation, you now know that divorce is absolutely your best choice.
Even when you know it’s the right decision, getting a divorce is pretty frightening. I’m Dr. Karen Finn, a divorce and personal life coach helping people just like you who are contemplating divorce. And I can help you too. You can join my newsletter list for free weekly advice. And, if you’re ready, you can take the first step toward working with me as your personal coach by scheduling a private consultation.