Below are some questions to ask that will help you decide if you should get a divorce. The “questions” are in the form of statements, with each statement being a good reason to divorce. They are part of a two-part Should I Divorce quiz of sorts. The other part is, Should I Try to Save My Marriage – Reasons to Try and it is recommended you read both.
Together, they are designed to help you make a realistic assessment of the state of your marriage – the most reliable basis for making the right decision for the future.
This may seem obvious but as you can read in How to Know if You Should Get a Divorce 101, the “D” word tends to raise all sorts of concerns that take the focus off the most important issue – whether or not a marriage is over.
The following reasons to divorce are are arranged into three groups, with “yes” answers indicating that you should most likely, definitely or immediately get a divorce.
Should I Get a Divorce? – the answer is most likely “Yes” if:
Your marriage has almost always been difficult, plagued by continual problems far outweighing any positive gains. In other words, the bad days have always far outweighed the good days and overall, your marriage has had a consistently negative impact on your emotional well-being.
The majority of problems have been caused by fundamental behavioral and personality traits that you have good reason to believe (perhaps through past efforts at change) are ingrained and extremely unlikely to change. These may be personality and behavioral traits of your spouse and/or traits of your own.
Certain beliefs, values, activities and interests are perpetually at odds. This refers to entrenched interests and beliefs such as certain religious affiliations, distasteful sexual preferences and extreme political or personal beliefs that reflect deep-seated differences in values that impact your ability to both love and respect your spouse.
You have made several serious efforts, jointly or separately, to save your marriage with no success. There is a point at which it is wise to accept that the marriage is over. Your efforts have not been pointless – the fact that you have tried will help you accept and adjust to divorce.
Your spouse has taken steps that indicate a firm decision on their part not to continue to try to save the marriage. For instance, they have intimated that they themselves are considering divorce or separation, have already left the marital home, or have deliberately escalated behaviors known to cause conflict.
You yourself are no longer prepared to try to save your marriage. In considering this point, give yourself time to answer honestly. Do not allow yourself to think in terms of “success”, “failure”, “giving up” – connect with what you really feel. If you no longer have the emotional resources or interest to save your marriage, it is wise to accept reality and the fact that you should get a divorce.
You have a track record of unhealthy relationships. If the answer is “yes” and you find that one or more of the points on this “Should I Divorce?” page apply, there is a good chance that your marriage is clearly over but you have difficulty realizing or accepting this. In this case, not only should you get a divorce, but you should seek help to remedy your high tolerance for unhealthy relationships. (In evaluating past relationships, include your experience of your parents’ relationship – if troubled, it may have contributed to your acceptance of unhappy relationships.)
You are afraid that your troubled marriage is harming your children. You may be right. Much attention has been given to the “effects of divorce on children” and relatively little to the “effects of a bad marriage”. However, just as it isn’t always a good idea to stay together for the sake of the children, it’s not necessarily a good idea to divorce for the children either. Nonetheless, the negative impact on your children has to end one way or another. This means you need to decide as soon as possible if you can save your marriage and if not, you should certainly divorce – it makes no sense to stay in a marriage that is over and harm your children in the process. (If you are already certain your marriage is over, read on.)
Should I Get a Divorce? – the answer is definitely “Yes” if:
You are certain your marriage is over but afraid of how divorce will affect your children. As mentioned above, the effects of divorce on children more attention than the effects of a bad marriage. What’s more, much of the “bad press” about the effects of divorce has been based on flawed research. Today, experts agree that it is “bad parenting” rather than “divorce” that is at fault. With good parenting during divorce children cope remarkably well. In short, you should not be deterred by what are essentially unnecessary fears, particularly as your trouble marriage may be causing real harm. Get a divorce and take advantage of the countless free resources available to help parents ensure their children cope well with divorce.
You are certain you should get a divorce but afraid of “divorce”. For instance, you are afraid of how you will cope on your own emotionally and financially, of what your friends and family will think, of how your spouse will react, of unforeseen consequences and the whole mysterious process of getting divorced. In this case you should go ahead and get a divorce, no question. While your fears are natural you will find that each issue is manageable – there are many ways to ensure certain outcomes in all areas of concern. Remember, most people find that once they have made a firm decision to (or filed for) divorce, reality is far less difficult and intimidating than they had imagined.
Your spouse has addiction issues that you have good reason to believe will continue or resurface. For example, there have been numerous attempts at recovery, repeated pretenses of recovery, or a complete unwillingness to contemplate treatment. In answering this question, be entirely honest. Put aside thoughts of how your spouse will survive without you – this is not relevant.
The answer is definitely “Yes” – and the sooner the better – if:
Your spouse is abusive to you and/or your children. While it may seem like it, abusive behavior is never prompted by other people, circumstances or events. It is prompted solely by an abusive personality which will find any “justification” necessary for expressing itself. This is why it is inexcusable and why the only realistic solution for ending abuse is to leave the abuser. In other words, there is no question that you should get a divorce.
Your spouse has been unfaithful more than once. For many spouses that have cheated it is a once-in-a-lifetime mistake that they deeply regret, because of all that they nearly lost, and never repeat. However, we are all familiar with the term “serial cheat” and the term applies the instant a spouse reoffends. As with abusers, there is a level of self-justification – indeed, a sense of “entitlement” – at work that is deeply entrenched and beyond remedy. Make no mistake – if you continue in a marriage with a serial cheat further heartbreak is 100% guaranteed.
What to Do Next
If you’ve answered “yes” to only a few questions in the first section and none in the following two, it’s likely there are good reasons you should try to save your marriage.
If all indications are that “yes” your marriage is over, divorce is of course not your only option – you may prefer to get a separation.
I would recommend too (if it’s safe to do so) that you allow yourself some time before taking any action. You can use this time to adjust to and accept the sad realization that divorce does seem to be the right decision – it will be important to be firm about your decision when you tell your spouse. You might also find it helpful to read through a divorce guide which will help you see that divorce is a manageable process, and feel more confident about how you will cope.
“Should I Get a Divorce” by Caroline Mackenzie is an original article exclusive to this site and protected by copyright.