Despite the number of divorces - approximately one-half of all marriages end in divorce - it is never an easy decision. The decision to divorce often comes after years of tension and stress. Some try over and over to work on problems, only to end up fighting or simply not speaking to one another. But yet, for many couples, divorce is still a last resort and one that is reached with great sadness and regret.
Throughout this time, both husbands and wives wonder when it is time to call it quits; when it is time to admit that you just can’t go on as a couple and there isn’t any hope of the marriage bringing either of you happiness. Each marriage is different and the tipping point, the point of no-return, may look different in each marriage.
There are some situations where divorce is obviously the better choice. If you fear for your safety and are a victim of abuse, getting away from your spouse should be a priority. But other times, it isn’t quite so easy. Maybe you just aren’t happy but can’t explain why. Or maybe you feel you have spent too much time putting aside your own goals and dreams or you feel you have lost who you are as a person.
The following are some signs that don’t necessarily mean you are ready to get a divorce but certainly indicate that your marriage has some serious problems and, at the very least, you need to address the issues:
- You no longer look forward to spending time alone with your partner.
- You stopped accepting your partner for who he or she is and are now trying to change them.
- You feel you are doing all the "giving" in your relationship and aren’t "getting" much back in return.
- You prefer activities that include friends, neighbors, relatives, anyone else so it isn’t just you and your partner.
- You don’t feel good about yourself or you don’t like who you have become.
- You see fault in everything your partner does or says.
- You are so tired of trying you have a hard time gathering the energy to try again.
- You and your partner no longer have sex or have sex infrequently.
- You feel resentment and/or contempt toward your partner.
- You spend more time fighting than talking.
- You find you don’t have much to talk about when you are together.
- Your children are acting out, doing poorly in school, feeling depressed or getting into trouble because of the stress at home.
- You envision what life would be like as a single person and realize that being alone is a comfortable thought.
- You have started wondering if it is time for a divorce.
- One or both of you are having an affair or seriously considering having an affair.
- One of you has asked for counseling and the other has refused or you have tried counseling and don’t feel any of the issues have been resolved.
- You aren’t there for your spouse emotionally or he isn’t there for you emotionally.
- You spend more time worrying about the relationship than you do anything else.
- The stress of your relationship is causing physical problems, such as stress related headaches or stomach problems.
- You are staying in the relationship only because you don’t like the alternative.
- You no longer have any respect for your partner.
- You don’t like the way your partner treats you.
- You no longer "like" who your partner is.
- You don’t like the person you are when you are with your partner.
- Your partner no longer fulfills your needs - emotionally or physically.
- You already tried a separation and things haven’t improved.
- You are staying because of the kids. (Your kids know when you are miserable and while divorce is difficult on them, living with miserable parents is often worse.)
There is no magic number of statements you identify with that means you should get a divorce. But if you identify with even one statement, it is time to have a talk with your spouse. Problems that aren’t addressed become much bigger. While divorce can be and often is traumatic for everyone - you, your partner, your children - living in an unhappy and unhealthy relationship is even more difficult in the long term.
Life after divorce is hard, but so is living in a stressful marriage. In the end, you need to make the decision that is right for you.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.