To Divorce or Not to Divorce, That Is the QuestionMay 4, 2011 • By Shendl Tuchman, PsyD, Divorce / Divorce Adjustment Topic Expert Contributor
You’ve been together now for about 14 years. For the past four-to-five years, you’ve wondered if you can stay together any longer. You’re interests have changed, you don’t enjoy doing things together as much. You find you are impatient and want to have the closeness, with someone, you used to have with each other.
Your time is spent running from home, to soccer games, to business meetings, to doctor appointments. There is little time left over to spend together and you just don’t want to anymore. It is too much work to bridge the gap that has been created. Your 12-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son are the lights of your life and spending time with them is much more fulfilling. You don’t want to think about what your life will be like when they are older and they don’t need you so much anymore. Perhaps, you think, that will be the time to consider leaving the marriage.
In the meantime, the distance between you and your spouse widens. You don’t talk to each other so nicely anymore. Your tempers are short and you sometimes say things in front of the children you regret both because of the content and because you have been yelling. You are aware you may be doing some harm to the children as they watch the two of you “go at it” with each other. You find yourself thinking about the friend you periodically have lunch with at work, in a different way. You can talk to him/her more easily than with your spouse.
These thoughts are the ones that start people on the road to thinking about divorce. The dissatisfaction with your relationship sometimes feels like there is no turning back. So what do you do about it? Will it be better for the children if you split up or if you stay together? Should you try couples therapy? Do you want the marriage to work? Whatever decision you eventually make, it will be about your entire family, not just you and your spouse. With some families, staying together will be more beneficial to them and their children. In other families, because of the level of conflict, children have a better chance of prospering, post-divorce, if the conflict can be avoided in that way.
Find a Therapist
A therapist can help you think about your options and work through the thoughts and feelings you are having. One important thing to remember is that, just because you think something, doesn’t make it true or real. When facing a decision of this importance, you will want to be as clear as possible about your choices, and what you really do know, versus what you think you know.
- Would I be willing, or not, to see if our marriage can be saved?
- What are the probable impacts on the children of staying in, or leaving the marriage?
- What might the financial impact be for one or both of us to leave our home?
- Will it be possible for my spouse and I to be better co-parents than we have been married parents?
- What will divorcing “fix,” or will I bring the same issues into the divorce that have been plaguing the marriage?
These are just a few of the many questions you will be faced with. How you answer these questions can make a huge difference in how you might stay in the marriage, or how you might leave it. Starting with as much clarity as is possible will make either decision easier to live with for you, your spouse, and your children. Whereas making this decision in haste will not likely add to its ease later on.
© Copyright 2011 by Shendl Tuchman, PsyD, therapist in San Ramon, California. All Rights Reserved.
Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org. The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. The view and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.
charlotteMay 5th, 2011 at 4:27 AM
What about marriage counseling and seeing a therapist together to make this decisions? Does not seem like this is something that just one partner in the marriage needs to work through. If things are still even just a little bit fixable I would at least wnat to try to work with a therapist, even if it is just for the reason to say that you tried everything to make the marriage work. Some may make it, most will not, but then at least you won’t have to wonder if you could have done more to save the marriage. You will know that you did.
TudorMay 5th, 2011 at 5:37 AM
Unless there is a real solid reason to divorce such thoughts should be discarded,really. I can tell you from my long marriage that such thoughts do occur at times,it’s just a stage in life when most of us feel that way. You may even realize that the same is happening with your friends! So just calm down and talk about it with your spouse.
JOSHUA RMay 6th, 2011 at 8:10 AM
If both the partners feel that they would be better off without each other and that separation would in fact benefit the kids then by all means they should separate.Because forcing yourself to stay along with a partner that you psychologically do not want to be with can prove to be a mental disaster and a problem best avoided.Been there done that!
MartinMay 10th, 2011 at 11:07 PM
I think marriage is a huge waste of time and energy nowadays. It’s always messy, there’s conflict one way or another, and it accomplishes nothing you can’t already do. We should just give up on marriage altogether and save all that money on the wedding-and divorce.
richardMay 11th, 2011 at 8:09 PM
@Martin It’s true that the divorce rate is astronomical these days. They keep going on about the sanctity of marriage yet couples are breaking up over really silly things that forty years ago we would have worked at instead of giving up. It has lost all meaning.
EddieMay 12th, 2011 at 9:07 PM
If your marriage doesn’t work and you want to break it up, the important thing is to break up on good terms if possible. Sometimes both spouses simply need time away from each other as a breather to get their heads together. I care more now about my first wife and have more respect for her than I ever did when we were together because I was young and stupid back then. We remain friends to this day.
Shendl TuchmanMay 23rd, 2011 at 8:20 AM
Thank you all for your comments. It is true that people attribute different meaning to the word marriage. For some it is a life long commitment. For others, it is not. When there are children, it truly does not matter if you had married or not. They still need the love and protection of their parents whether the relationship maintains or not. If there are no children, both are free to separate with the good possibility that should they choose, they do not have to have anything to do with each other anymore. The most difficult part may be disentangling their financial lives. While that can push many buttons, it does not require the ongoing interaction of parenting children. So, while making the decision to stay together or not, with the help of a third party or not, the lives of the children need to be front and center. Unfortunately, it does not always work out that way.
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