I Think I Want A Divorce

I Think I Want A Divorce

Contemplating divorce or a break-up is difficult – no matter what state your relationship is in. You are dealing with a lot of confusion, guilt, and fear about the future and there are a million questions circling around in your head.

Remember the end goal is to make the right decision and avoid living in regret for the rest of your life. So instead of tormenting yourself, get practical. Understand the problems in your marriage and work out what you want to do about them.

Questions to Ask Yourself

First, ask yourself the following questions to see where you are in your relationship and whether divorce is the right choice for you:

  1.  Are you experiencing aggressive behaviour?
  2. Are you experiencing physical or mental abuse?
  3. Have you made unacceptable personal compromises? To identify if it is unacceptable, you can ask yourself, how you would feel if you watched your child/loved one make those sacrifices in their marriage.
  4. Does your partner put you down, undermine or embarrass you?
  5. Do you feel anxious about speaking openly to your partner?
  6. Do you stay quiet out of fear of reprisals from your partner?
  7. Do you think twice before representing your own thoughts and feelings to your partner?
  8. Are you being criticised or judged often?
  9. Does your partner abuse alcohol or drugs?
  10. Could your partner get professional help for their addiction/issues, but they are refusing to do so.
  11. Are you in this relationship out of fear, threat, and/or dependency?
  12. Is the marital stress affecting your physical and mental health?
  13. Do most people around you (friends, family, colleagues) feel that you should leave your relationship?
  14. Does staying in your relationship always make you feel broken, depressed, and frustrated?
  15. Does your partner lie or deceive you often/is your trust continuously broken?
  16. Have you lost trust in your relationship?
  17. Has your partner cheated on you?
  18. Are you with your partner because you are feeling guilty about leaving? For example, are you with them only because you feel guilty that you had an affair or because they are dependent on you due to financial or health reasons?
  19. Are you being ignored?
  20. Have you existed in silence in your marriage?
  21. Are you lonely in your marriage?
  22. Do you dislike the thought of being intimate with your partner/having sex with them?
  23. Have you lost interest in each other?
  24. Does your partner make constant excuses for not working to save the marriage? For example, for not helping around the house, for not spending time with you, for not wanting intimacy with you.
  25. Have you tried everything to save the marriage but your desire to leave has stayed the same or intensified?
  26. Are you only staying because of the children or due to finances?
  27. Are you only staying due to stigma/fear of shame from family, friends, community or colleagues?
  28. Are the difficulties in your relationship affecting your children’s health, education or wellbeing?
  29. Do you disagree or lack mutual understanding on most of the following areas?
    1. Money
    2. Raising children
    3. Sex
    4. External Relationships with friends, family, and community
    5. Religion
    6. Household responsibilities
    7. Alcohol, drugs, substance use
    8. How to spend leisure time
    9. Career and job-related issues
    10. What romance means in a marriage
    11. Healthy eating

If you answered ‘No’ to most of the questions above, then your relationship has a chance of survival. If majority of your answers are ‘YES’, then you need to consider whether you should be in this relationship/what you could do to turn the answers into ‘NO’.

Strategy – No Regrets Exercise 

If you are in a situation where you can talk things through with your partner, try the following exercise:

 Have an open conversation about your relationship and what you are feeling.

  • Start on a happy note and identify the areas of your relationship you are happy with – this will give you something positive to focus on while you work through your areas of conflict.
  • Then identify the areas that you would both like to improve. Do this without criticism, judgment, or argument. You need to identify what the issues are on both sides. Don’t argue over who’s right or wrong – that’s not what this is about. You must both take responsibility for your part and accept that you both need to put some work in if you want to see a positive change.
  • List between 3-5 things you can both do to make these improvements – they can be as little or as big as you choose and feel comfortable with. Limit your list to a maximum of 5 items, otherwise, it will become too overwhelming and you will not follow through.
  • Commit to doing things on your list for 3 months to save the marriage.

Ideally, you should both work on this exercise together but if your partner is not willing to try this exercise with you – you can try it on your own.

During the 3 months, do not threaten divorce – you need to put all your effort into making the relationship work. If your partner is constantly being reminded that divorce is on the cards, they will lack the incentive to try hard to make things work.

At the end of 3 months, once you have done all that you can, you will have a better understanding of whether this is a relationship you want to stay in. This way you will know that you tried everything you could to save it and you will limit the possibility of having any what if’s or doubts about your decision. It will also be easier to explain your decisions to your children (now or in the future).

While you are figuring all these things out, remember differences or conflicts exist in all relationships – irrespective of how loved up people look on social media. What’s more interesting is that according to John Gottman, (researcher on relationships), 70% of problems in all relationships are unresolvable. So, by going through this exercise you are not trying to eliminate every conflict in your relationship – that’s not possible. Rather, you want to be able to communicate with each other about your conflicts and reach a compromise/agreement. You need to be able to accept the differences between you, love each other in the way that you both want to be loved, without constant criticism or without giving up your core values.

I see clients in my clinic who need help to work out whether they truly want a divorce or not. They are usually so full of guilt and confusion that it clouds their ability to make a sound decision. I help them to work through the decision-making process and either help them to maintain their relationship or to leave with a firm plan. I also help them to overcome the emotional trauma of their break-up.

Is divorce something you need to talk about? Call me on 07967 012 006 and I will help you.