Marriage in trouble?
If your mind has been riddled with thoughts of divorce lately, if you have been wondering if this is the only way out, do not be overwhelmed. Remember that doubting the relationship does not inevitably culminate in divorce. The end of a marriage can be a relief for some, while prove to be quite stressful for others. In both scenarios, both partners are highly likely to go through a range of intense emotions in the process of getting a divorce. Often, individuals contemplating separation or divorce face a number of dilemmas, which add to the ambiguity of the already complex situation. You need to give yourself the time and space to think this through without any undue pressure. This is often easier said than done! If you are having a tough time deciding, here are a few important things to keep in mind:
Reflect on your expectations from marriage and your spouse (and how far are they being met?)
Before you decide that divorce is the solution your marital woes, take a moment to reflect on what it is that you expect from the marriage and your partner. Have these expectations remained the same over time, or changed? It is natural for roles and expectations to evolve over time. However, it is important that both partners are aware of relationship issues and what is expected out of them. Open communication about your needs, and openness towards hearing your partner’s needs help in reducing both ambiguity and frustration. It is a cause for concern if despite repeated attempts at voicing your expectations you feel unheard and unappreciated. You need to decide whether this can be resolved by better communication, or you feel this is beyond repair.
What has changed?
It is quite unlikely that your relationship was this way from the start. Can you think back to a time when you were happy in the marriage? What has changed from then? What remains the same? Chances are that there are still some things about your marriage that are workable or in working condition. This is not to deny that there might be a number of things that are stagnant or even deteriorating. The fact that you are thinking about divorce is proof enough for this. The thing to focus on here is whether the workable bits of the relationship can be salvaged, as well as, if there is any scope for resolving the issues that are pulling you both down.
Is this a way to get back at your spouse?
There may be a number of reasons why you feel your marriage is on the rocks. Perhaps you don’t feel appreciated by your partner, or you no longer feel connected to them. There might be resentment, dissatisfaction. Anger and hurt that has accumulated over a period of time. In any case, it is in your best interest to try to figure out what your motive is in seeking divorce. Is it a well thought out, clear-headed decision? Many times, the decision to separate is based on anger or other strong emotions. Are you thinking of divorce in a reactive or vengeful manner? If this is true then it is unlikely that the feelings will go away even after the marriage ends. Divorce sought to make the partner miserable or to teach them a lesson is unlikely to be of any good to you.
Are you prepared for the consequences of divorce?
The dilemma you feel is absolutely valid. The decision to divorce is rarely easy or straightforward. Perhaps the most important thing that will help you is an honest appraisal of the consequences – of both divorce and staying married. Take a few minutes to picture all the consequences of divorce could possibly have on your life. A number of things that are a part of your life now may need to go post-divorce. This will include both good and bad aspects. Similarly there will be new roles and responsibilities. This is especially true if you have kids. How do you feel about the new life you picture for yourself? Try to be as objective as possible about it.
In my experience, it can be really taxing to put yourself through this process all alone. In most cases, talking to well-meaning family and friends can end up leaving you even more confused. I recommend that you seek divorce counseling for an objective and professional opinion and to discuss relationship problems and solutions. It will give you a safe, non-judgmental and empowering space to make an informed decision, and provide you support in dealing with any difficult emotions that might come up.