January 25, 2017
5 Ways to Know You Need a Divorce: 5 Ways to Know You’re Not Ready
Written by Rachel Eddins
Divorce is a big deal.
So, if you’re feeling conflicted or confused, it’s really no wonder.
Will severing your connection usher in a better life?
Or leave you wishing you had stuck it out and somehow found a better way?
There is no easy way to know. There is no person outside your relationship who can tell you to give up or give it another try.
However, there are signs to look for. Regardless of the signs, we strongly encourage you to call a couples counselor to discuss ways of working on your relationship and if it comes to it, navigating a respectful divorce.
5 Ways to Know You Need a Divorce
Marital ups and downs are one thing. Relationship disrespect, danger, and despair are something else altogether. If your relationship is marked by the following problems, you probably need to consider consulting with a therapist and evaluating your exit strategy. Especially if your spouse refuses to seek help or make a change.
1. Controlling Behavior or Physical Violence
Abuse is a deal breaker and it doesn’t get better without your spouse’s concerted effort to get help. If he or she won’t change, find a safe way to leave. Saving your marriage must take a back seat to saving your emotional well-being and your physical life. Abuse is not something that can be worked on together in marriage counseling, it’s too unsafe. Seek out your own support individually and start making safety plans to protect yourself.
An addict is often self-destructive and will destroy you, your children, your finances, and your future if you don’t take measures to get out of his or her way. Addicts can also recover. Discuss your concerns with your partner and discuss recovery options – a counselor can help you identify appropriate treatment options. It’s also important for you to be part of the treatment process and engage in recovery meetings for partners. Groups for family members exist for all types of addiction, such as Al-Anon (for friends and families of problem drinkers). Though you may feel your partner has the problem, it’s important that you actively participate in recovery meetings, whether your partner is engaged in treatment or not.
If your partner refuses to seek help or treatment, you have a lot to consider. First, be sure you participate in recovery meetings for family members. Second, discuss your feelings and options with a relationship therapist. You may feel hesitant to leave your partner on a path of destruction and you may even blame yourself. Don’t let yourself struggle with the situation alone.
3. Serial Cheating
If your spouse has been unfaithful once, you may be able to recover. Your marriage may even become stronger. However, chronic unfaithfulness or an on-going extramarital relationship weakens the foundation of your relationship immeasurably. The realities and perpetual nature of such disrespect often amount to emotional abuse in many relationships. Serial cheating may also indicate signs of sex addiction. You can both recover from sex addiction, but you’ll both need to seek treatment to discuss a plan of action that helps your partner recover and rebuilds your marriage.
4. Unaddressed Mental Health Problems
People struggling with mental health problems can and do get better. For chronic mental illness, the key factor is support. It’s important that you are not the sole caretaker of your partner. Therapy, support groups and other resources are available to help. Mental illness is not a reason for divorce if treatment and support are a part of your life together. If not, the challenges of living with someone who refuses to deal with a personality disorder or unchecked emotional health issues can be too unsafe and unhealthy for you and your family to manage. The key is your willingness to discuss the impact it’s having on your relationship and your partner’s willingness to seek treatment.
5. Child Endangerment
You must prioritize your children if abuse against them is an issue. Physical or sexual abuse demands clear and decisive action. Remove yourself and the children as quickly and safely as possible. Then, immediately seek professional care and guidance.
5 Ways to Know You’re Not Ready for Divorce
Alright. Perhaps you read through the previous list and still feel unsure. Or hopefully, your partner is willing to seek help. Maybe none of those situations apply to you. Or your spouse is in treatment or recovering from past issues that once taxed your relationship.
Maybe you have some niggling doubts that ending your marriage isn’t really the freedom it’s purported to be. It’s not too late to reconsider. Take a look at the following indicators that you’re just not ready to call it quits:
1. You’re using divorce to make a point.
Are you introducing divorce as a way to score points? Divorce is not a teaching tool, relationship leverage, or a wake-up call. It is a sign that you are no longer wholly committed to your spouse. Bringing it up if that is not the case will only do damage.
2. You still want your spouse to be with you.
If the idea of your spouse living and loving someone else is unacceptable, hit the pause button on divorce and weigh your feelings carefully. Perhaps you really aren’t prepared to let go. Maybe counseling could help keep that spark of desire to be with your spouse alive and growing.
3. You think you can stay in touch when it’s over.
Divorce isn’t the best path to a future friendship or maintaining closeness. Divorce pulls you apart. If that’s too scary or unwelcome a thought, you’re not ready to say goodbye. Put your energy into saving your connection now rather than trying to recapture some measure of your relationship later.
4. You want to make your spouse pay.
Are you consumed with the idea of getting back at your partner through a dramatic divorce battle, custody fight, or financial dispute? You might want to ask yourself why. What is at the root of all that emotion? Maybe you just want to be heard and connected somehow. Consider more productive, marriage-saving ways to do just that.
5. You really haven’t done the work.
A long-term commitment gets tiresome, boring, conflicted, and just really hard at times. Divorce needn’t be the answer to those feelings. Be honest about what you want. Be clear about your motivations. Chances are divorce may not address those things the way you think it will. Explore what’s going on in your relationship before giving up on it.
Your Decision is Life-altering. You Might Need Some Help with It
After weighing your options, you may realize that calling a counselor is the best decision to make… regardless of what you choose.
Divorce doesn’t mean you have to walk through this alone. Divorce counseling can be a source of support.
Deciding to stay doesn’t mean you need to bury your pain.
Life-changing choices deserve a listening ear. Emotional pain deserves processing for the sake of mental and relationship health.
Happily together or apart, consider the help of a professional therapist to help you create the future you want.
Your attachment style influences how you react to your needs and how you go about getting them met. It impacts which partner you select and how your relationship progresses.
Take this brief attachment style quiz to help you understand your own attachment pattern and what implications it might have for your relationships.
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