Opinion Essay Making A Decision About Divorce
When is it time to divorce?
There can be countless reasons you're wondering when to divorce.
Sexless marriage or lack of intimacy.
Or maybe you've simply grown apart.
Regardless of the reasons, how do you know if what you're going through is just a rough patch or something more lasting? Are you justified in feeling the way you do?
Are you making more out of things than they really are? Can your marriage be saved?
Or is your marriage beyond repair?
Making the decision to end your marriage may very well be among the biggest decisions you will ever face in your life and it will affect you for many years to come - especially if you have children.
And while there’s no easy answer to the question, “Should I get a divorce?” there are certain signs of divorce and things to consider that may help you decide if you should stay married or when to leave a marriage.
Should I Get a Divorce? Have you first made every effort to save your marriage?
Perhaps the single most important question to ask yourself is not, "Should I divorce my husband (or wife)?" - but rather, "Have I first done everything in my power to try to get my marriage back on track?"
This means many things to many people.
For some, it could be reading self-help books, for others it could be attending either individual or marriage counseling sessions or even trying discernment counseling.
Regardless of the method, you owe it to your marriage – especially if it's a long-term relationship and/or there are children involved – to make every effort to educate yourself and find out if there's still work that can be done on the marriage.
If you can honestly say that you have made every effort to save your marriage and you still feel as though there is no hope of reconciling, chances are it's one of the biggest signs you should divorce.
Should I divorce? Have you already dealt with the emotions associated with divorcing?
There’s no doubt about it. Divorce brings up intense emotions.
Even if you’re the one who is leaning toward calling it quits, chances are you’re dealing with all kinds of emotions from hurt and confusion to guilt and anger, or possibly even relief.
If you are asking how to know if you should get a divorce or separation, the next critical question is whether or not you’re effectively dealing with the emotional aspects so that you’ll be able to make the important decisions you'll be faced with in the coming weeks and months.
If you need help sorting through those emotions in a safe space, you should seek help from a licensed counselor or try some divorce coaching.
Have you done your homework and learned your options so you know how and when to divorce?
Just as there are countless ways to get married, there are also a variety of choices available for you to achieve a divorce from do-it-yourself to internet divorce to divorce attorney to divorce mediation.
Before you end your marriage, make sure you’ve done your homework.
Learn about all of the available options for divorce now, so you'll know which will work best for your situation if and when it's time to divorce.
"If you do decide to divorce, the choices you make before you start the process are critical.
So it's critical you get educated first"
If and when it's time to divorce, will you be ready to shift into the new roles your post-divorce life will bring?
The question, “Should I divorce?” is one that is two-fold for couples who share children.
That’s because even if you end your marriage, you and your ex will both still remain in each other’s lives for many years to come.
While you're deciding to divorce, ask yourself whether or not you're prepared to shift into the new role your post-divorce life will bring – that of co-parent.
It will be a challenging new role, but one that your kids deserve so make sure you’re ready for this before you move forward and start divorce proceedings or legal separation in court.
When should you get a divorce?
Knowing when it's time to divorce your husband or wife can be difficult for some, and it's a decision that shouldn't be taken lightly.
And while there's no magic answer for how to know if you should divorce, here are 10 signs it might be time to take that next step and file divorce papers:
10 Likely Signs You Need a Divorce:
1.) One of the signs you should get a divorce is when you're convinced you'd be better off alone.
It's perfectly normal as you grow older to pine for the careless days of youth gone by. When you were living in that 4th floor walk-up in Chicago or that studio apartment in Hoboken, eating Ramen noodles by yourself without a care in the world.
But if you're married and are convinced that being on your own again would be better than staying in an unhappy marriage, it might be one of the 10 signs that your marriage is over.
2.) Another of the signs of a divorce come when your needs are no longer being met.
Marriage is a partnership, and each spouse should be doing their part to fulfill the needs of the other - physically, emotionally and spiritually.
When this is no longer happening or it's become one-sided, it might be time to call it quits and seek a dissolution of marriage.
3.) It might be time to leave your marriage if you're only staying together for the kids.
"Divorce isn't such a tragedy. A tragedy's staying in an unhappy marriage and teaching your children the wrong things about love." - Jennifer Weiner
Children are very smart.
They know more than you think they do, and they can sense animosity a mile away. More importantly, kids grow up to emulate the relationships they saw when they were younger.
If you don't want your children to grow up thinking the type of relationship you currently have with your spouse is normal or healthy, it might be one of the signs to get a divorce instead of staying together for the kids.
4.) One of the signs you should divorce is when you're stuck in a miserable marriage and even though you've tried counseling, you still can't seem to come together.
Often the realization of when to divorce comes after admitting that sometimes things just don't work out - no matter how hard you try.
Couples counseling requires a commitment by both spouses to work on, improve and change their behaviors for the greater good of the marriage.
If you are working to get the marriage back on track, but your husband or wife isn't, then it might be time to move on without them and file for divorce.
5.) One of the biggest signs of divorce: you're being abused.
Wondering how to know when to divorce? When you're in an abusive relationship! Whether it's emotional or physical, abuse is something no one should have to put up with.
If you believe you are a victim of abuse, you may consider calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
6.) You think of your marriage as "the lesser of two evils."
If you're only staying with your husband or wife because you think it's easier than having to start over and find someone new, that's a sure sign of an unhappy marriage and chances are your relationship is in serious trouble.
7.) One of the signs that your marriage is over is when you no longer trust or respect your spouse.
A strong marriage is based on trust, understanding and mutual respect.
If you've lost all respect or no longer trust your spouse, it's one of the reasons to leave a marriage and get a divorce.
8.) You're only staying married for financial reaons because you think it's "cheaper to keep her (or him)"
There's no doubt that two households are more expensive to run than one. And divorce only creates expense, not income.
But if the only reason you're still together is because of money, it may be time to draw up a budget, get your finances in order and make it on your own. Keep in mind that if you've been a stay-at-home mom, it could mean needing to get a full-time job.
9.) You're worried about what your friends or family will think.
For some, divorce can be an embarrassment or a failure.
But if you believe nothing can be done to save your marriage and the only thing preventing you from moving forward with a divorce is worrying about what your friends or family will think, it might be time to follow your own intuition, stop asking, "Should I get a divorce" and take action towards getting those divorce papers.
You deserve to be happy.
And if the people you're worried about truly care for you as they should, they'll support your decision, regardless of their own personal opinions on divorce.
10.) One of the big signs you need a divorce is when you're being unfaithful to your spouse.
Many people think of an affair as a physical relationship.
But you're kidding yourself if you think emotionally charged Facebook chats or texting exchanges with ex-boyfriends or girlfriends are harmless. You've just exchanged one kind of an affair for another.
If you're cheating on your husband or wife physically or emotionally, it might be time to give them the respect they deserve and get a divorce so you both can find happiness.
When Should You Get a Divorce?
There isn't a “one-size-fits-all” answer when it comes to if and when you should get a divorce. And that’s because no two situations or circumstances are the same.
Not only that, but each of us has our own value system, self-limitations and ability to deal with the fear of the unknown.
For example, if a wife values companionship over financial security, she may not hesitate to leave if she's feeling lonely in marriage, despite the fact that her financial needs are being met. Or, if a husband highly values trust and his wife has been repeatedly unfaithful, he may have no doubts or hesitations on leaving a marriage.
Others may be fully aware that their marriage is beyond repair, yet they continue to live for years miserable and unsatisfied rather than taking active steps to divorce.
And while sometimes, their reason for staying is because they value financial security more highly than other aspects of the relationship, other times, they are contemplating divorce and truly want to end their unhappy marriage but don't do anything to get started because they are paralyzed by fear of the unknown.
If the latter sounds like you, here are some insights shared by our panel of experts for how to decide whether to divorce and tips for how to get unstuck.
How to Know When to Divorce:
What advice would you give someone who is considering a divorce to help them decide whether or not to end their marriage?
Danielle Adinolfi, MFT
"Something I often ask people in therapy to describe their perfect day.
What would it look like?
What would they be doing?
Who would they be with?
The answer they give me often paints a picture that shows their unconscious feelings quite clearly.
For instance, if someone describes their perfect day and never once mentions their spouse, than I am clued in to the fact that they don't see that partnership as being necessary for their happiness. This simple exercise is designed to help give me a glimpse into my client's desires, even if they are unsure at the moment of what they truly want.
If you were to describe your perfect day, would your partner be by your side?
If yes (even if that yes is conditional), maybe there is a chance of working towards some sort of reconciliation. But if it is a clear and a resounding no, that should be a strong indicator that you need to re-evaluate the relationship."
Jose Perez, MA, LMFT
"The decision to get a divorce or stay married is not a decision one should make in haste. It requires you to dig deep into your core and consider what it would be like to take the necessary steps to go forward.
Oftentimes, walking away can be the most gratifying gift you give yourself, especially when there has been emotional abuse, neglect and or betrayal. However, there is also the fear of the unknown and inability to explore beyond our comfort that gets us stuck and unable to see past the status quo.
I think it is important to seek professional help to consider all of the pros and cons of ending your marriage and also help us to realistically look at all of your options in a calm and safe environment.
Some of the questions I ask when working with a client who is considering a divorce are:
- Are they walking away because the fear of trusting again and allowing themselves to be vulnerable is too risky?
- Is their partner truly willing to make changes and create the type of relationship that would seek to create healing?
- Is there anything redeemable in the relationship that can be capitalized on?
In addition to these more abstract questions, there are also practical questions of financial stability, impact on children and plans on moving forward that can delay the divorce process but hopefully not derail the intention to divorce completely.
The process of making this decision should be given as much consideration as the one you took when you entered into the marriage since this will be a life changing decision that will have a substantial impact on everyone involved."
Kate Engler, NCC, LPC, AMFT
"If you have begun contemplating divorce, the first thing I recommend is to take a deep breath and slow everything down.
When people reach this point, there have usually been issues and/or uncertainty in the relationship for a long time. Finally reaching a decision may feel like a relief, which may prompt you to want to move forward with a divorce as quickly as possible.
However, outside of certain extenuating circumstances where there are legal or safety ramifications, there is never a need to rush the divorce process. Once you slow down, you can take time to fully tune into the thoughts and emotions associated with making this decision.
From there, you can begin to pay attention to whatever arises in your mind without judgment, to investigate it, and then let go of the experience.
For example, sit down, take some deep breaths, and bring your focus to your decision. Pay attention to whatever bubbles to the surface of your mind.
- Do you feel panic?
- Do you notice that you need more information or have questions?
It is especially important to tune into your body as you do this because so often it holds clues that we ignore.
- Is your stomach in knots?
- Does your throat feel closed?
- Is your head suddenly throbbing?
Don’t judge anything that comes up or feel like you need to act on it. Just acknowledge that it is there and put it in the “information” category of your mind.
Make this a daily practice as you contemplate your decision and if you need help, seek out mindfulness resources and/or guidance from an experienced practitioner or therapist.
Over time, you will gain clarity and will be able to make a decision on if and how to end your marriage while staying connected to yourself and your values, which is critical finding peace with whatever decision you make."
David Klow, LMFT
Chicago and Skokie, IL
"My advice would be to take their time in making that decision and that even when they make it, they can certainly go back. People get back together.
And there’s a lot that can be done before you actually make the decision to get divorced. And I would say go slowly.
People usually report that their divorce goes better if they really felt like they tried everything that they could to first try to make the marriage work.
And they were in just enough pain and discomfort that they needed to make that difficult decision. People usually think they have tried everything but often there’s more that can still be done to try to salvage a marriage."
Nathalie C. Theodore, JD, LCSW
"I recommend that an individual who is considering divorce seek counseling if they need support while making this difficult decision. A dissatisfying marriage can often feel quite isolating.
When you're contemplating divorce, you may not feel comfortable sharing these thoughts with family members or friends, let alone your spouse.
A therapist can help by providing a safe space for you to voice your concerns, while offering support and helping you manage stress during this challenging time. "
Dr. Pamela Brand, Psy.D., LMFT
"It would be important to make sure that each individual understand their feelings and needs that have not been met in their marriage.
I would want to inquire about whether or not they’ve had the opportunity to express these feelings and needs to their spouse and if they have had an opportunity to have conversations about those feelings and those needs to determine if they could get those met. For couples who had not done that, I would strongly encourage that they do that in or out of counseling depending on the situation.
It is important that couples understand that conflict is a normal part of marriage and that expectations are not always clear at the time you get married.
I advise couples to take the opportunity to clarify expectations and needs, which is essential to healthy development of marriage.
The process of talking together with or without a counselor would be for the purpose of helping the couple look at whether or not each of them are open to and/or able to shift unworkable patterns. I also believe that it is important to help couples understand what prevents them from responding to each others’ needs and expectations. Sometimes, for example, patterns of stubbornness prevail and can block more positive interaction."
Laura Alper, MSW, LCSW
"Firstly, it’s advisable that this couple get some counseling to help guide their decision of how to know when to divorce.
Secondly, they should ask themselves if there are any external stressors which might be temporarily influencing how they feel about one another that might resolve over time.
A good practice is to engage in a mental exercise by projecting out 5, 10, 15, and 20 years into the future and imagining how their lives would look both staying in the marriage and having left the marriage. They would do this separately. This gives a simulated mental picture of various future scenarios. Their feelings about those different scenarios may help inform their decision.
The next suggestion would be to use this phrase: “When in doubt, delay.” If there is any uncertainty about proceeding with leaving a marriage and getting a divorce, they may want to delay the decision, perhaps giving an arbitrary amount of time (for example 6 months) to test the merit of the relationship.
During this trial period they would make a commitment to themselves and to one another that there would be no harmful behavior or acting out. It would be a time in which they would be as committed to the marriage as possible to see if it stands the test of time. "
When You Know You Need a Divorce:
What advice would you give an individual whose marriage is clearly beyond repair, yet despite their unhappiness and desire to get divorced, they take no action to start the divorce process and instead remain stuck in a miserable marriage for months or years - completely frozen in fear?
Irene Schreiner, LMFT
Downer's Grove, IL
"Deciding if and when to leave a marriage and actually moving forward with a divorce typically doesn't happen at the same time.
In my experience, clients often fear that once they have made the decision to divorce, they must take immediate action to end the marriage and leave. This is often a terrifying prospect, especially if they don’t have a wealth of resources.
Since the choice feels so scary, they often resist making any choice at all and stay stuck in the bad marriage.
I reassure clients that they can move at whatever pace they need to in order to feel comfortable. We identify the fears that are holding them back.
Some are practical, like money or childcare and others are emotional, like feeling like a failure. By identifying the fears, the individual is able to start working through them to get unstuck."
Justin Tobin, LCSW
"The reason the cliché “change is hard” exists is because it is true. The desire to act doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time to get to this point.
A similar timeframe occurs when a partner gets stuck in not taking action in getting a divorce – it takes many repetitive thoughts connected to strong emotions to convince oneself that no action is better than venturing into the unknown.
These repetitive thoughts lead the individual to convince themselves that the potential consequence of their decision will either be too catastrophic for them to work through or too “foreign” to conceptualize how to work through.
I would first advise this individual to embrace another cliché: “change takes time.” There is a lack of power and control in their decision making which can lead to complacency and feeling stuck.
But it is possible to change the perspective from fear and shame to one of power and control over themselves and their actions.
In order to have control and power, the individual must first be honest with themself that their fear is causing damage to their happiness and inhibiting them from reaching their life goals.
Being honest with oneself takes significant courage, as it is common to feel ashamed of fear. The impact of self- deprecating beliefs such as, “There is something wrong with me as a person that I don’t have the strength or confidence to leave this marriage” or “I am such a loser that I can’t even make a decision to leave this relationship, therefore no one will ever want to be with me” further exacerbates their stuck-ness.
As the negative thought loop continues, it then causes low self-esteem which, in turn, may cause the individual to become depressed. The individual must acknowledge this loop to then challenge these negative thoughts, normalize their fear of leaving the marriage and ultimately leading to a belief that change is possible.
I would also advise the individual to lean on their support system.
But in order for their support system to be effective, the individual must be open and honest with their supports about their unhappiness in the marriage as well as their desire to leave the marriage.
Surrounding themselves with others who care about them and are non-judgmental is imperative. If they do not feel comfortable sharing their true feelings or they are fearful of judgement, then working with a psychotherapist who is professionally trained to be objective will be crucial.
Amy Beth Acker, LCSW
"It is understandable that it would feel in many ways more comfortable to remain in a broken marriage even when you know it's time for a divorce than to leave and have to deal with the unknown.
Instead of looking at it as a leap into a completely different (and possibly) worse life, it is helpful to see the change as one that can be leaned into deliberately with the goal of transforming that fear into greater freedom and joy in life.
It is also important to remain clear on the reasons for leaving the marriage and let those reasons lead the person in purposeful, conscious action. Writing down all of the fears on paper in order to begin addressing them one by one in tiny, manageable steps can also be helpful. Individual therapy may be needed to address issues of self-esteem and self-worth that may be holding the person back.
Finally, getting a solid support system in place is crucial. Making a list of people that are currently supportive as well as those that may be of support, and how, can be extremely reassuring."
Karen Focht, MA, LMFT
I find a tremendous value in working collaboratively with my clients. This collaborative approach provides a platform for self-exploration along with exploring possible choices, options, and obstacles that might stand in the way of positive change.
If an individual finds themselves contemplating divorce but feeling “stuck,” it can be powerful to shift the focus from the relationship and onto personal goals that can be worked on regardless of the marital status.
Working towards new and positive goals builds confidence and self-awareness that can then assist in reaching major decisions around taking action in a marriage."
Ewelina Beardmore, LCPC
"I would work with the individual on exploring their fears and anxieties and finding out why, if they truly believe they’re in an irreparably damaged marriage, they feel frozen in fear to move forward with a divorce.
Are their fears related to certain distorted projections about the future or a lack of self-esteem?
I would also encourage them to identify their needs, values and how they prioritize them in their life, as well as the risks involved with sacrificing them by remaining in this unhappy relationship.
Clients should also be encouraged to assess how staying in their current relationship is impacting their current emotional and physical states, as well as the health of other people involved – particularly children - and how, if at all, it could impact them in the future (e.g., regrets of not fulfilling certain goals etc.)."
Claudia Rosen, LCSW
"I think that the most important thing in moving toward change is to explore what the underlying fears are really about.
Identifying and naming each fear is one place to start. From here, it can be helpful to examine whether the fears are related to something that is specific and predictable in the future.
Part of the process also involves exploring what decisions or actions a person is willing to consider as part of problem-solving. This process can help someone who is stuck to recognize what they can change in reality. Using a trained professional as a helper can often be a catalyst in this process.
Another guiding question in the process might be, “What is the price I pay for staying in the marriage, and what would be the price for ending the marriage?”
These kinds of questions can help you go through an evaluative process about what holds you back from making changes that are in your best interest.
Some of the costs are always real and some are fundamentally emotional in nature. Going through this exploration can lead to overcoming both real life and internal obstacles and to finding the determination and confidence to move forward in your life.
Some fears can be addressed pragmatically with a solution-oriented approach. Other fears must be accepted because they go hand-in-hand with any big life challenge and change such as divorce."
Nathalie C. Theodore, JD, LCSW
"Oftentimes, we remain in miserable situations because we lack confidence in ourselves, and doubt that we can make life-altering changes and land on our feet.
In working with a client who is having difficulty leaving a marriage that's beyond repair, I would help the individual explore any self-esteem issues, and work on restoring their confidence.
I would also give my client tools to deal with anxious thoughts that might be keeping them stuck."
Divorce Mediator Joe Dillon, MBA
New Jersey, Illinois, PA, California, NYC
"I am a firm believer in you have one life to live and happiness is a choice. So if we’re just talking about 'you' (that is, no kids are involved), I would ask: Is this how you really want to choose to spend your limited time on this planet? Because you’ve only got so many years to experience all that life has to offer.
And unless you believe in reincarnation, when it’s over, it’s over. You’ll be left with nothing but regret.
Do you really want to choose to live your life with regret?
For some this message may resonate. But for others, they may stay stuck right where they are.
And until they see that it is their choice to stay stuck or move forward, there may be nothing you can do to motivate them. That’s where the help of a good coach or therapist can come in. To help them get unstuck and see that they do have a choice in what happens to them. And they can choose to move forward. Despite their fear of doing so.
Now if there are children involved, there’s an even stronger case in my opinion to leave an unhappy marriage. Kids are sponges when it comes to observing the world around them. And they’re going to emulate whatever behavior they observe in their household.
If you’re stuck in a loveless or bad marriage, they’re going to think that’s all they deserve and so when they grow up, they’ll fall into the same pattern. Staying stuck and having no sense of self-worth.
As a parent, I'm sure that’s not what you want for your kids!
So instead of focusing on your own fear and staying stuck, flip it around and think about how overcoming your fear will be a benefit to your children. By leaving your unhappy marriage, you’re showing your children that you don’t have to settle in life. And that you control your own happiness.
Your courage to move forward will be an example to them in self-confidence and strength. Instead of complacency and defeat.
And while they may not be able to understand it at the time, trust me when I tell you, many years later when they are, they’ll be thankful you moved forward.
Or disappointed because you didn’t."
On Staying Married for Financial Reasons:
If an individual is stuck in a marriage because of money - either because they earn significantly less than their husband or wife or because they are a stay-at-home mom or dad and haven't worked in years, what would you say to them about their decision of choosing financial stability over happiness?
Ewelina Beardmore, LCPC
"It’s important to validate what this person is experiencing, because for a stay-at-home parent who hasn’t worked in years, the thought of not having that financial stability and relying on their own abilities and possibly the generosity of their support system to meet these monetary needs can be overwhelming.
I would also help them explore issues of self-esteem and confidence and to define what happiness means to them and whether there are other ways to find stability in life that don’t revolve around money."
Claudia Rosen, LCSW
"This is a values question. Everybody has a right to live their life according to their own values, but people don’t often take the time to evaluate and articulate what their values are.
It can be useful to ask, "What do I value most in life, and how does the decision to divorce or stay married line up with my priorities?"
Let’s say somebody values living an authentic life and being true to themselves as their highest priority, but then choose to stay stuck in marriage for financial reasons. Valuing authenticity and valuing financial security may not have equal weight. At the same time, addressing real financial obstacles or other genuine concerns must be addressed as part of the process.
Really doing a thorough analysis of one’s values and seeing whether staying or leaving aligns best with what matters most in life can help in making a clearer decision and taking the necessary action steps forward.
Most people make the best decisions for themselves when they can connect to their true values.
They can begin to decide what's really going to be helpful in the long run in living a life they want. It can also be motivating to think about what kind of role model they want to provide for their children in choosing a life where emotional well-being, authenticity and making positive life choices are prioritized."
Justin Tobin, LCSW
"Logically, staying in an unhappy marriage for financial reasons makes sense. Unfortunately, a dependency may form in this relationship which is rooted in most basic needs for survival. It is possible that this dependency then forms irrational beliefs which can lead to depressive feelings and thoughts of powerlessness.
When someone comes to know that they will need to completely revamp their self-identity, it brings about feelings of stress, anxiety and fear.
I would help them to understand how their decision to choose financial stability over happiness was initially made and see if this rationale is still relevant today.
An emotionally stuck stay-at home mom or dad neglects more than just their emotional needs. They also fail to remember their own strengths as an individual.
Therefore, I would remind them of their strengths as a parent and encourage them to list out their strengths in other roles such as son/daughter, friend, neighbor, etc. These roles help to shape their identity and can offer a better sense of who they are as a person; that is, the parts are greater than the sum. In other words, they are more than “just a stay at home parent.”
I would also want them to reconnect with their desires and dreams in their life that have been put on hold.
Choices were made for a reason and most choices do not have to be etched in stone. But sometimes we are “too far in it” and need to look at our situation with a little bit of distance.
A powerful question that I would ask this individual is aimed to make space for a new perspective. In the future, your adult child came to you and asked, “Mom/Dad, I need your advice. I am unhappy in my marriage and am only staying because of the financial stability. What do you think of me choosing financial stability over my happiness?”
How would you answer your child?"
Cheryl Dillon, CPC, Divorce Coach
Illinois, NJ, Pennsylvania, California, NY
"If you're unhappy in your marriage, it's normal to want a divorce because getting a divorce might seem like the quickest or best way to get out of a bad situation.
But making the decision to end your marriage will be one of the biggest decisions you will ever face in your life. So it's not to be taken lightly.
There are many things you need to seriously consider before taking such a significant and life-altering step.
When deciding if you should get a divorce, the first thing you need to focus on are the emotional considerations.
Many years ago when I asked myself, 'When should I get a divorce?' it was important to me that I not have any regrets about my decision. I never wanted to get to a point in the future where I felt like I made a mistake by ending my marriage. I wanted to be certain that I was doing the right thing by asking my husband for a divorce.
Before you do anything you might later regret, think about your own emotional considerations.
Then think about your children.
There's no doubt divorce is even more difficult when children are involved. Do you stay together for the sake of your kids? Or is it unfair to them (and you) to remain in a bad marriage?
Ask yourself if staying together will do more harm than good. And is divorce better than an unhappy marriage?
In addition to the emotional reasons, there are financial considerations of divorce. Especially because divorce only creates expense, not income and it costs more to run two separate households than one.
Deciding to divorce is a very personal choice and one that only you can make.
So take your time with the decision-making process.
Focus on the emotional and financial considerations and think about what's best for your children.
If you would like me to help you talk things through, objectively weigh your options and then make an action plan for next steps to take, learn about my divorce coaching program.
And if you do decide to end your marriage, learn how to prepare for divorce. Learn about the differences between divorce mediators and divorce lawyers so you can choose the professional best-suited to help you navigate the issues including parenting time, child support, alimony / spousal support and the division of marital property.
And finally, learn how you can divorce amicably and peacefully - because doing so is better for you and your family.
Only You Know the Signs You Need a Divorce
At the end of the day, only you can determine how to know when to divorce.
But hopefully the insights shared in this post have given you some things to reflect upon and do so you can make the choice that's right for you and your children.
If you do decide to get a divorce, the choices you make before you start the process are critical.
Regardless of how many years you've been married, whether you're the one who wants the divorce, your spouse does or you're both on the same page, the choices you make before you start your divorce will likely set the tone for how the entire process will unfold for you and your children.
And how peaceful, fair, child-focused and cost-effective your divorce will (or won't) be.
But you can only make smart choices if you take the time to get educated and prepare for divorce first.
That's exactly why we created a downloadable kit for smart people like you - to help you do just that!
Click on the link below to learn more about what's included in the kit and sign-up to get yours:
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Data for the analysis are taken from the three waves of the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (N=10317). All Spring 1957 high school graduates in Wisconsin filled out their first questionnaire in 1957. They were followed up to fill out their questionnaires in 1975 (when they were about 35 years old) and 1992 (about 53 to 54 years old). Various studies recognize the age from 35 to 55 as middle age compared with preceding age often labeled as young adulthood (Beck and Beck 1984). In other words, 1975 wave asks questions about respondents' behaviors at the beginning of middle age, and 1992 wave asks their behaviors at the end of middle age.
Of 10317 respondents, 67.7 percent of respondents answered that they are currently married. Of 6980 currently married respondents, 27.3 percent of respondents failed to provide answers to the questions or they passed away by the 1992 wave, resulted in a total sample size of 5076 married respondents to analyze the relationship between previous attendance and religious attendance in later life, and 5220 married respondents to examine the relationship between smoking and religious attendance.
Both 1975 and 1992 waves asks questions about respondents' frequency of religious attendance, which enables to look at the effects of divorce experience on their religious attendance in 1992, controlling for their religious attendance in 1975. In addition, Respondents were also asked about their regularity of smoking habit, which allows examining the relationship between religious attendance and smoking in 1992. Both waves also asked questions about respondents' marital status (number of marriages and current marital status).
The limitation with the Wisconsin Longitudinal Survey is that the survey includes so few non-whites (<2%), thus it is not suitable data to compare whites with non-whites and to study the relationship among SES, religion, race/ethnicity and health by race and ethnicity to understand the changing socio-demographic features of aging by race and ethnicity.
Frequency of religious attendance at the 1975 wave and 1992 wave are measured as follows. In 1975 wave, respondents' frequency of religious attendance was asked in the following format, “How often did you attend religious service last year?” Respondents choices were (1) one time per week, (2) two or three times per month, (3) one time per month, (4) a few times per year, (5) less than a few times per year, and (6) never. In 1992 wave, respondents were asked their number of religious attendance (0 to 365) as well as the unit for frequency of religious attendance (day, week, month, year) during the last year. These two variables were summarized into an ordinal variable, frequency of religious attendance during the last year. The value ranges from 0 (never or less than once a year) to 11 (approx. once a day or more, 321-730 times per year). To make religious attendance in 1975 and 1992 comparable, both variables were dichotomized indicating (0) no regular religious attendance (less than once a week) and (1) regular religious attendance (at least once a week). In 1975, 49.9 percent of people regularly participated in religious attendance (at least once a week), and the proportion was about the same (46.6 percent) in 1992. McNemar's test showed a significant statistical difference between 1975 and 1992 religious attendance among married people (Chi-Square 33.735, p<.001).
For a measure of the respondent's health related lifestyle, since smoking was discussed as a major example of unhealthy lifestyles in previous studies, a question asking about regular smoking habit at the 1992 wave was used. Respondents were asked, “Do you smoke regularly now?” 16.1 percent of married respondents at the time of 1992 survey smoked regularly. Those who smoked regularly were coded 1, and those who did not were coded 0.
Divorce experiences are measured by responses to multiple questions about their marital history (marital status and the number of marriages) as well as their 1975 and 1992 marital status. These questions contributed to create two variables, (1) whether a respondent experienced any divorces by 1975; (2) whether a respondent experienced any divorces between two waves. Those who experienced divorce are coded 1, if not they are coded 0. Among those who are married at the time of the 1992 survey, 10.8 percent experienced divorce by 1975, and 16.2 percent experienced divorce or additional divorce between two waves.
As control variables: two indicators of their biological information (age and sex); two indicators of respondents' socioeconomic status (income and education); information about respondent's total number of children; and respondents' number of physical symptoms are included. In this study, respondent's age in 1992 was measured as an interval variable (average 53.25 years). Sex was measured as a dichotomous variable (coded 1 for female, 0 for male), and 48.4 percent of respondents were men. Respondent's family income was measured at an interval level, and square transformation was used to reduce the positive skew (skew has changed from 2.172 to.752). Education was measured as summary years of education based on their most recent degree ranging from high school (12 years) to postdoctoral education (21 years).
The total number of children was measured at an interval level (average 3 children). Finally, to control for respondents' physical health status, the number of physical symptoms married respondents had during the past 6 months at the time of 1992 survey was included. The symptoms include 22 items: whether respondents experienced lack of energy, exhaustion, dizziness, numbness, ringing in ears, nauseated, shortness of breath, headaches, visual problems, upset stomach, vomited, constipation, diarrhea, urination problems, aching muscles, swollen joints, back pain, chest pain, excess sweating, respiratory problems, or skin problems. On average, respondents had 4 symptoms.
Logistic regression was used to examine two research questions: (1) whether previous divorce experience had a significant effect on married respondents' regular religious attendance at the 1992 wave controlling for their religious attendance at the 1975 wave; and (2) whether regular religious attendance at the 1992 wave had significant effect on respondents' regular smoking habit.