When trying to decide whether to end a relationship or marriage it is important to take some time to reflect on why you are considering this. Marriage is difficult at times. It is common to have doubts at times about whether or not to remain in the relationship.
Divorce is a permanent solution. It is important to really consider whether or not there is room for change or it is time to call it quits. Many couples head for divorce before they have taken time to ask themselves some common questions which can leave them reeling when they realize that they might have had a chance to make things work out.
Here are 9 questions to ask yourself before starting the process of divorce.
1. Have I really done everything I could to fix this marriage?
Have you exhausted all avenues of help for putting your marriage back together? That could mean reading books, going to a marriage counselor, and spending time focusing on your own role in the demise of your relationship. Knowing you have tried everything you could can give you peace of mind.
2. Have I made any changes to my own behavior?
While it is easy to know how we want our partner to change it is also necessary to look at our behavior and how that is affecting the dynamic in our relationship. Are you sure that you have listened closely to what your partner fears, hates, wants, expects, and loves? Were you emotionally approachable when your spouse needed help? Did you ask for help when you needed it, or did you start a big thing because your partner couldn’t read your mind?
Moreover, if you’re running from certain problems in a marriage, you might face them in the next one. This is certainly a bitter pill to swallow, but if you find it difficult to tolerate boredom in this relationship, you might get bored with another partner, too. It is very common that running from these issues without trying to resolve them can tie you to a vicious circle of the same problems in another relationship. However, realizing how you may have contributed to the family conflict can save your marriage and even bring it to a new level.
3. Have I truly communicated why I am unhappy and specifically asked my partner to change anything?
Do you know what you would like to be different in your relationship? Have you spoken to your partner about these concerns? It can be difficult to be vulnerable and talk about the things we don’t like in our relationship, but if we don’t let them know then there is no hope for change. Our partner can’t read our mind.
Don’t assume that your husband or wife knows that you are dissatisfied with some aspects of your marriage. Communication is needed. So before asking for a divorce, make sure you had a long and deep conversation with your spouse. And while telling about your feelings, be ready to hear your partner too.
If you find it challenging to speak up or have tried unsuccessfully, then it can be beneficial to talk with a couples counselor. They are trained to give you a safe space to discuss your concerns and be heard.
4. Have I really considered what life will be like once I am divorced?
Taking time to really think about how your life would change when divorced is very important. Divorce has psychological and financial implications. It is also a very stressful process. It is important to weigh the costs and be fully informed. Remember, starting a quarrel, filing for divorce, and then coming off as needy is the least preferable way to end a relationship.
5. Am I prepared for the financial changes?
It is important to think about the financial implications to getting a divorce. It can be helpful to seek out a divorce financial planner to help you look at the impact divorce could have on your finances long term. They can help you gain a clear understanding of your current and future financial picture as well as determine an equitable split to marital assets. If you still decide divorce is the right decision for you, then you will be prepared for what you will need to support yourself for years to come.
6. How will divorce affect my kids?
If you have kids, it is critical to think about how this decision will impact them. Most parents share custody of the children. This will mean less time with your children. If you decide to follow through with separating and ending the marriage, it will be important to consider what custody arrangements you want to have for your children. They will also need time to process this big change. Taking time to really listen to their feelings and be present for them is vital to helping them feel supported emotionally. Also, working to not bad mouth your partner to them is equally important.
7. Is there anything my partner can say/ do/ change to make me feel better about being in this relationship?
Is there anything your partner could do to make you feel better about the relationship? Maybe you miss the times you would go on walks together or play tennis at the park? If so, make a list of what these are and share them with your partner. Let them know how much these really matter to you. What would it mean to you to incorporate them back into your routine? What would help you feel closer and more connected to your partner?
8. How accountable is my partner?
Is your partner willing to listen to your needs and concerns and make changes? Do they follow through on their promises to you? Your needs matter and should be important to your partner. They made a commitment when you got married to be there for you.
There is nothing more frustrating than being in a relationship with someone who refuses to take accountability for his or her actions. In his or her mind, whatever happens is either someone else’s fault or bad luck. Almost like a toddler, the person refuses to take responsibility for anything, no matter what. In their mind, they are the victim. They rationalize things in any way possible to avoid taking ownership or any type of fault. In other words, they have no ability whatsoever to say the words, “It’s my fault,” “I caused this,” “I take full responsibility” or “I’m sorry.”
Taking accountability isn’t easy. It takes the courage to engage in introspection, humility and true honesty. Accountability means taking a hard look in the mirror and owning up to a problem you caused or contributed to. Furthermore, it means having the guts to attempt to fix what you did, either by asking for help or applying the discipline to change the behavior.
When neither partner in a marriage can acknowledge and accept accountability for their actions, the relationship can be difficult to sustain.
9. Are my expectations for marriage reasonable?
Couples often hold on to expectations that were fulfilled at the beginning of their relationship, but these expectations can become unreasonable as the marriage moves through the years. Accepting new reasonable expectations is vital for a marriage to be satisfying and a happy one.
Some common expectations that are unreasonable and not sustainable in a long term relationship are-
- your spouse should fulfill your every need;
- your spouse should serve as the primary source of your happiness;
- your spouse should fill all of your companionship needs – and that you should fill theirs;
- your spouse should mirror what is important to you;
- you should always be the center of attention to your spouse;
- the excitement and passion should continue as it was earlier in your relationship.
It is important to discuss expectations with your partner and make agreements. It can be helpful to create a Marriage Bill of Rights based on what you each need in the relationship. Some areas to consider are-
- Commitment in the marriage,
- Verbal affection,
- Compassion and empathy for each other’s feelings,
- Respect for each other,
- Consideration for each other’s differences,
- Spending quality time with each other – while understanding that each spouse has other time commitments,
- Showing interest in each other and what each is involved with, including opinions and ideas, work and activities,
- Physical closeness: hugging, holding hands, touching, and other simple physical gestures count and are vital no matter what the couple’s sexual life is like
- Generosity of thought, spirit, and action towards each other,
- Acknowledging that there are other important people in each spouse’s life: friends, their family, colleagues, etc.
- Making time and creating opportunities to have fun and laugh together,
- Open communication and sincere listening to each other – which can easily fail if there isn’t an effort to continually work on it. This includes discussing each other’s thoughts and needs and hopes for the future they share or have individually.
Every relationship will have issues and disagreements, it is how we handle these issues that can make or break our relationship. The more open, honest, and vulnerable we can be the better we will be able to work through conflicts. If you are struggling, it can also be helpful to get support from a licensed counselor trained to help you navigate the challenges in a way that you can both be heard.
At Relationships Matter Austin, our licensed clinicians are trained to support you during this difficult time. We provide compassionate support and a place for you to sort through whether divorce is the right decision for you. Call us at 512-994-0432 or complete the form here to schedule a free 20 minute phone consultation to see if we are the right fit for you!