When you and your partner took your marriage vows, you obviously did not think you would be filing for divorce one day. However, it cannot be ignored that divorce is a common outcome when couples feel their relationship is no longer working.
If your marriage is rocky, divorce is an option, but it is ultimately up to you to weigh your options, and decide whether it is the right path for you and your spouse.
In the time leading up to your wedding, you likely put a lot of thought into the commitment you were making. Conversely, when your marriage seems unfixable, divorce can seem like an obvious solution to the problems you and your partner are facing. However, getting a divorce is just as serious a commitment as getting married. You may be surprised by just how deeply a divorce can impact your life, and what other alternatives you may have at your disposal; and, knowing both of these can mean the difference between saving your marriage and ending it prematurely.
You and your partner are both complex individuals with your own hopes, passions, and insecurities. While most of your differences may be reconcilable, there may be other issues inhibiting your marriage that are harder to fix. It can be difficult to navigate your way through these problems, and that difficulty can lead to frustration, resentment, or even outright hatred, all of which can make divorce seem like an attractive option. But before you discuss divorce with your partner, take a step back and consider the following questions:
1. Have you stopped communicating?
Good communication is one of the pillars of a successful marriage. While you may feel as though you have clearly communicated your expectations and needs with your partner, there is a chance your partner has not received the message. Research shows people only hear 30-35% of what is being said to them. It could be the case that your words have simply gotten lost in translation. Alternatively, perhaps your method of communication does not resonate with your spouse. Bombarding them with feedback as soon as they walk through the door, or texting them excessively while they are in the middle of a meeting is not going to stick. Instead, it is generally best to find a mutually convenient time and space, with limited distractions. That way, you and your partner can have a structured conversation, in which both parties can be heard and understood. Furthermore, the content of your communication is crucial. What are your expectations of one another? What role do you feel you play in the marriage? How do you feel about the dynamic of your relationship?
Communicating in this way is easier said than done, and there is a chance that while you are keen to talk, your spouse is not. This is where a service like divorce recovery counseling can help you and your partner. Divorce recovery counseling provided by Arkansas Relationship Counseling Center can incite you and your partner to explore each other’s feelings, and find a way forward.
2. Why are you still together?
This may seem like a negative or loaded question, but it is an important one to ask. Even in the midst of divorce discussions, there must be something keeping you and your spouse together. These reasons might be complicated and hard to resolve. For example, if you have children, you may both be reluctant to divorce, as you do not want to disrupt their lives with separation. Similarly, you may feel obligated to share the responsibility of raising your children. Perhaps you are afraid of losing assets, or worried that you cannot cope financially without your spouse’s income.
You may also have convinced yourself that you have poured too much time, money, or emotional energy into your relationship to leave your partner. These feelings are typically due to what is known as the “sunk cost fallacy.” This term describes a false line of reasoning in which you are driven to make choices based on the investments you have already accumulated. This fallacy can lead you to do irrational things like sit through a movie you do not like, simply because you have invested so much time to watching it. It is this fear of wasted time that can skew your perspective of your current situation.
However, it should not be overlooked that you and your spouse may still be together because you truly still love each other. It might break your heart to even think about being without your spouse. Whatever the reason, a discussion that focuses on what is keeping you together (and what is not) is important before considering filing for divorce.
3. Have you or your spouse been unfaithful?
If you have recently uncovered an affair, you are likely experiencing a mix of emotions, including anger, shame, guilt, self-doubt, and confusion. It is understandable that divorce might, therefore, feel like the best solution to the crisis. But, before taking any drastic measures, it is vital you try and look at the situation more objectively. Infidelity is always painful, but it is also a symptom of a more significant problem. By addressing the underlying cause of the affair, you have a better chance of making an informed, rational decision about the future of your marriage. The same applies if you have been unfaithful. While your decision to cheat is not your spouse’s fault, there may be problems in the relationship (sexual, financial, emotional, etc.) that led you to react in a way that ultimately sabotaged the marriage.
4. Are you taking enough responsibility?
When you are caught in conflict with your spouse, you might blame them for what you believe to be their role in the problem. Ultimately, you are telling your partner that the unhappiness you are feeling has been caused by them, and can therefore only be fixed by them. But in reality, it takes two people to build (and break) a relationship. Before considering divorce, ask yourself what you could do to improve the relationship dynamic. Instead of listing all the ways your partner needs to change, create a list of the actions you can take to create a healthier marriage. Neither of you is ever going to be able to magically change your personalities. But with some personal responsibility, both of you can take positive steps towards an outcome you both can be happy with, whether this is staying together or separating.
5. Have you tried counseling yet?
In the midst of the turmoil and heartache, it is easy to overlook the option of marriage counseling. You may have doubts about when to see a marriage counselor, or if a counselor can help you. After all, your relationship and situation is unique, and there is no guarantee that your partner is willing to give counseling a try. However, divorce recovery counseling can be an incredibly effective way to help mend your marriage. Marriage counselors, such as those employed by Arkansas Relationship Counseling Center, strive to support you and your spouse in understanding and navigating your way through marital problems. Counseling offers a safe space to explore feelings, set boundaries, and find a way forward. Even if you have decided on divorce, counseling can help you through this process. Nobody wants or enjoys conflict during or after separation, nor should anyone have to experience it. Meeting to discuss the emotional and practical impacts of separation can reduce the risk of conflict between you and your partner.
If you are unsure of whether or not to get a divorce, counseling can help you to find the answer that is right for you. Call the Arkansas Relationship Counseling Center today at 501-222-3463 to organize a free consultation with a trained relationship expert.