First thing before we explore this topic. I want you to know that I am a big fan of marriage. So much so that I’ve been married to my wife for over 30 years. I don’t believe that you casually throw away a marriage just because you hit the inevitable speed bumps that even the best of marriages experience.
Having said that, there are going to be those times when things may not work out. It’s these times that are the most heartbreaking; when a client is in my office in tears because they just realized their marriage could possibly be ending or is about to end.
We get married not thinking it will or wanting it to end this way. But despite a drop in the divorce rate for the fourth year in a row (down to 16.9 per 1,000 women), divorce still happens.
And, even though the decision to divorce is painful, it is sometimes very necessary. There are circumstances where, for the one or more people involved, divorce is really the best and healthiest option.
This is not about blame. I’m not saying that divorce is always someone’s fault. But situations you find yourself in could cause you to reevaluate the relationship. And that reevaluation may lead you to the conclusion that continuing is not reasonable or healthy any longer.
If you are thinking you are headed in this direction, please read through the list below. It might be of some help.
Seven Signs It May Be Time for a Divorce
1. You have come to realize that you got married for the wrong reasons.
I cannot tell you how many times someone has told me they came to the realization that they got married for all the wrong reasons. This could happen in lots of ways. Maybe you didn’t pay attention to the numerous red flags before you got married, but now you realize what they meant. Some people know on their wedding day as they walk down the aisle that this is not a good idea. Going ahead with a marriage simply because “we’ve already spent so much money on the wedding,” is probably a sign that this marriage was not meant to be.
People get married even if they’re not in love with the person. Instead, they are in love with the package. She or he has a career and can provide money. Perhaps you married because your family and friends were convinced that they were a “good catch,” only for you to find out later that they were anything but.
Other times, people get married because they think that when they reach a certain age they should be married. Sometimes people get married because of their biological clock – and only because of their biological clock.
2. You want children and your partner is clear they do not.
You’ve tried counseling and his/her position has not changed. They’ve let you know they haven’t changed. That’s fine for them. However, if starting a family is a “must have” for you, one of your deal-breakers, then it could be time to get a divorce.
While I know how painful this realization can be, you don’t need to feel guilty about wanting to find someone who shares your same basic values and visions. Otherwise, you could wind up on your death bed, harboring the deepest regret of your life – never having children because you sold yourself out.
3. Your partner has had one or multiple affairs.
She or he promised to stop but has had one or multiple subsequent affairs. If this is the case, he or she is likely a true narcissist. True narcissists have not developed the capacity to form true empathy resulting in them continuing to hurt you with their transgressions.
In addition, trust has likely been irrevocably broken and almost certainly will never be able to repair the damage that has been done. For this reason, it will be painful, but you have to let them go and end the marriage. The truth is, they are only going to hurt you again.
4. You are a victim of domestic violence.
You need to end this. End it now.
Hard truth: it is quite likely that the domestic violence will not end, despite their promises. You deserve better. If you still think it’s a smart idea to stay with somebody who is physically violent to you, ask yourself this question: Would you want your child to grow up and marry someone like this? I will assume you love your child enough to scream, “Of course I wouldn’t!” Well, if they aren’t good enough for your child, how do you justify staying with someone you wouldn’t want your child to marry?
5. Your spouse keeps ruining your finances.
You start getting calls from collections agencies. Your bank account is suddenly empty, again. Large, lavish purchases have become no surprise.
These are red flags of a serious problem. Financially sustaining yourself is one of the core components of adulthood. There are lots of different attitudes towards how to handle money, but it’s essential that these are openly discussed. If one of you is a “spender” and the other is a “saver,” this could spark quite a few arguments. This is MORE than just not having a plan – it’s having the plan and refusing to follow it, as well as secretly making financial decisions without the other person causing a chain reaction with huge consequences.
6. Your spouse refuses to address their addiction issues… or any other issues.
When we marry, we take an oath; in sickness and in health we pledge to stand by our spouse. But for your health and the health of any involved children, there comes a point when walking away is warranted.
If you spouse is in and out of recovery, with no real progress or no accountability of their behavior, it’s likely this will not change. At least not anytime soon. If going to back to rehab is the go-to response when he or she falls off the wagon, then they aren’t really trying to deal with their addiction. They are continuing their behavior assuming they will just “go back to rehab again,” and get clean – again. In the meantime, you are left on a rollercoaster of emotion as they hurt themselves, and you, then attempt to repent. This cycle is not healthy and you do not need to stand by while it plays out over and over.
And this doesn’t just stand true for drugs or alcohol. Porn, gambling, computer and phone addiction, work, excessive shopping also count as addictions that can spiral out of control and have huge impacts on family and marriage.
7. Your problems never seem to get resolved, and your partner refuses to get help.
This is one of the most common reasons that couples divorce. The sad thing is this. Many marriages often have at least a chance of working out if both partners are willing to work at it. That takes some courage because it involves honest self-reflection. If your partner isn’t willing to look at themselves for any changes or parts they may be playing in contributing to the continued conflicts, then the prognosis for your marriage is very poor. As a result, you may understandably be feeling sad, alone, lonely, frustrated, helpless, and hopeless.
If any of these things strike at the heart of what you are struggling with right now, please email or call me. It is terribly difficult to sort through these matters alone. I have worked for many clients who have faced these choices, and am happy to help you through this time as well.