It’s difficult to know when divorce is the best option. You didn’t get married with a plan for divorce, yet here you are considering it nonetheless.
The reasons for divorce are as varied as the people seeking them. Sometimes divorce is the right choice and sometimes it isn’t. Right now, you’re not sure, so allow me to help you decide.
There is Abuse – Physical or Emotional
If your spouse is abusing you, either physically or emotionally, it’s time to go. There isn’t a therapist or coach in the world who will tell you to stay.
When Divorce is the Best Option | You Envision a Life Without Your Spouse
Kate was a client of mine who was contemplating divorce. I asked her if she ever looked at her life as if she were in an alternate universe – a what if scenario. She said she did so I asked her what that life looked like.
Kate went on to describe a new business she dreamed of starting, some vacations she wished to take and relocating to somewhere closer to the beach. As she told me about these plans, she realized that she didn’t see her husband in any of them. That was her answer.
While the answer upset her some, she realized that she didn’t see herself happy with her husband in the future. They were different people than when they married. She recognized that while she loved her husband, she wasn’t in love with him.
When One Spouse Has Betrayed the Other
Trust is at the core of any successful and happy relationship, so when it’s broken, it can be very difficult to overcome. Not impossible, but difficult.
Betrayal doesn’t always indicate an affair. You can betray someone in many ways that have nothing to do with a side love affair. One of you can lie about something big or withhold important information. Regardless of the cause, trust is broken and now must be earned again, except the path to earning trust after you’ve broken it is twice as long.
In this instance, you must decide for yourself whether you’re capable of forgiving and moving forward. Many people cannot and many people decide they just don’t want to try. The betrayal brings forth the realization that other things are going wrong too and that’s when divorce is the best option.
When The Intimacy is Gone
Kelly and Pete were happy in the beginning, but then Pete started staying up into the middle of the night working, leaving Kelly alone in their once active bed. Once in a while, Pete would go to bed with Kelly but the sex had lost its passion.
Additionally, they hardly did anything together these days. When they were first together, they did lots of fun things together like hiking, kayaking, and skiing in the winter. They enjoyed visiting neighboring towns to find that hole-in-the-wall coffee shop and generally had a good time together.
Now, whenever Kelly suggested a day date or a date night, Pete shrugged it off saying he was too busy with work, sometimes getting grumpy in his response. Kelly missed that intimacy and wondered if they’d ever be able to get it back.
Ultimately, Kelly knew when divorce was the best option when Pete started staying up all night, coming to bed as she was rising for her workday.
When Divorce is the Best Option | You Aren’t a Team
Whether it’s changing diapers, walking the dog, or doing the dishes, you and your spouse should be a team. When you go out together with friends, you’ve got his back and he has yours.
You once had a real rhythm together and everything worked great, but now, you don’t feel like a team. He seems to be looking out for number one, and that person isn’t you any longer. You feel as if it’s now you against the world, instead of us against the world.
When You Realize You’re Not You Anymore
Melissa and Tom were high school sweethearts who married and had children young. Melissa supported Tom as he pursued his bachelor’s degree, staying home and raising their children. She rarely got any time to herself since Tom worked many days until close to the kids’ bedtime. He would come home, rile them up and she was then stuck putting them to bed. He also worked on Saturdays, leaving her with two choices – she either did things while dragging the kids along or she stayed home and did nothing.
She dreamed of that alternate life you read about above. She even found herself hoping he’d have an affair and leave. Something he did do, but to his second wife, not her. One evening after discovering one of their children was very ill, Tom came home and packed his stuff. He was leaving. Upon realizing their daughter was so sick, he offered to stay, but the relief was already washing over Mel, and she frantically told him she’d keep him posted.
That evening, Mel felt as if an elephant got off her back. She didn’t realize how much stress her tiny house was holding until it was gone. She realized that Tom had been controlling her life and the once creative, upbeat person she’d once been was gone.
It’s often when the man leaves first that a woman recognizes how far away from her true self she’s drifted, but once that realization hits, there’s no going back. That’s when divorce is the best option.
When Divorce is the Best Option | He’s Incapable of Love
A narcissist or a misogynist might be able to hide his true colors for a short time, but eventually, the claws come out.
This type of person is incapable of loving anyone but himself. Everything he does, and everything he expects you to do is for his best interest, never yours.
You’re in his life because you add value to him in some way. It might be your looks, your social connections, or your money, but one of those things is your sole purpose in his life.
But there is a second type of man incapable of love. This guy wants to be in a loving relationship, and he’s reeled you in with his sweetness and even vulnerability. The problem is that he’s been hurt or has seen deep wounds in a relationship and he doesn’t want to experience that again.
So while he wants to be in a relationship, he’s scared to death that things will end badly. Unfortunately, it’s that fear that will cause all his relationships to end, but he can’t see the fear. He only recognizes how much he wants to be loved, not the walls he’s erected to keep love away.
You can’t fix either of these types of men and that’s when divorce is the best option.
When You’ve Grown Apart
You’ve been the working mom for twenty-some years, but now that the kids are gone, you’re forging a new path. You’re picking up old hobbies and resurrecting old friendships. You might even be shifting career paths.
Meanwhile, your husband is changing too. He’s approaching a midlife crisis and wants the sports car, new youthful haircut, and chiseled body of his youth.
You once shared goals and dreams, but now it seems as if you’re going in opposite directions. You’re finding your way and so is he, but the pathways aren’t the same.
This happens and it’s unfortunate, but that’s when divorce is the best option. You can end things on a friendly note, especially if you have children. You’ll see one another for years to come as your kids get married and have children of their own.
When Divorce is the Best Option | You Have a Mountain of Resentment
Couples who sweep their problems under the rug, rather than discussing them, build resentment toward one another. One hurt after another piles up and before you know it, the sight of one another makes you seethe with anger.
At some point, you lose the ability to care for your spouse because there’s so much resentment. While therapy might help you work through the pile of issues between you, if you don’t care anymore, there’s no point and that’s when divorce is the best option.
When One or Both of You is Dealing with Untreated Mental Illness
Everyone experiences depression and anxiety from time to time. You’d be an unfeeling emotionless robot otherwise. They’re natural outputs of the day-to-day grind.
For some people, the wounds go deeper. Past abuse in childhood or other similar experiences can leave wounds so deep that only therapy can help. But the stigma of therapy and the fear of feeling those bad feelings again can keep them away from therapy.
If your spouse is dealing with something heavy but refuses to seek treatment, it isn’t your job to be that therapist. You must look out for yourself and your family, and no, that isn’t selfish. Selfish is not seeking treatment so you can be present for your family.
When Divorce is the Best Option | Communication is Non-Existent
Communication is right up there with trust as a cornerstone for a good relationship. You each must be able to communicate your wants, needs, and concerns in an open and friendly environment. Unfortunately, if your spouse has berated you in the past for doing so, you’ve probably developed a fear of bringing things up.
This breakdown in communication makes one or both of you feel defensive and unwilling to talk. You’re left feeling as if the weight of the world is resting on your shoulders. Your spouse is supposed to be the person you turn to when things are tough, but he’s no longer there. The moment you recognize that you’re tired of carrying the burden is when divorce is the best option.
When Divorce is the Best Option
Divorce isn’t fun, but it can make your life better, depending on the circumstances of your marriage. It isn’t the fault of just one partner, but both. Each of you contributes in some way to the situation that’s led you to this point.
If you’ve discovered that you’re headed for a divorce, I encourage you to read through the Five Step Process. Not all of it will apply to you, like writing the letter or using slip in/slip out, but you do need much of what is there, like getting your emotions under control, assessing your relationship, and rebuilding your confidence. You can skip the last two steps and switch gears to another of my best-selling books, He’s Gone, Now What?.