Way back when I was still married to my first husband, it took me four years to gather the courage to file for divorce. I knew for sure that I wasn’t going to stay married to him forever, yet I procrastinated, postponing the conversation with myself to answer some tough questions.
Now that I am in the business of helping people to end their relationships peacefully and with respect, I’ve seen couples who may have given up too soon, and other couples who have admitted to me that they coexisted way beyond the expiration date of their relationship.
If you’re considering calling it quits, I urge you to ask yourself these five difficult questions:
1. Are you sincerely ready to end the relationship, or are you simply threatening to do it? Think about whether you’re using divorce in an attempt to change something about your spouse, or whether you really intend to follow through.
2. Are you willing to take control of your life? This is a loaded question because the concept of controlling your life goes well beyond the financial details. Emotional support notwithstanding, the buck stops with you. Do you have your support system lined up?
3. Are you able to see a future without your spouse? If you’re not willing to let go of your partner intellectually, emotionally, or financially, now may not be the right time.
4. Are you capable of facing the consequences of divorce? Everything changes after the marriage ends. Holidays, lifestyle, traditions, being single again, sharing your children with their other parent, dating again, even using the word “me” instead of “we.”
5. Are you ready to deal with the emotions of your children? Chances are, they’re going to be angry or sad, or both, and there’s a good possibility that they’ll act out, whether by misbehaving, not caring, or reverting to earlier childhood behaviors.
If you answered “yes” to at least one of the five questions I’ve asked, then I urge you to do some serious thinking about your next step. On the other hand, if you answered “no” to at least one of these five questions, now might not be the right time.
Some other things to consider:
If you are staying in a relationship that no longer fulfills you nor brings you joy, it’s time to think about whether to end it or stick it out.
If the pain of being there is worse than the fear of being alone, it’s time to end the relationship.
If you’re happy more times than you’re lonely, it’s possible to repair and refresh.
Although this is a multi-layered situation, having a conversation, or a series of conversations, is always a good idea. Obviously, some serious heart-to-heart talks with your spouse would be a first step. Seeking out the services of a qualified therapist, whether together or by yourself, is also a smart choice.
And if you’re ready to end the relationship, please let me know if I can be of help.