Divorce demands a hefty price – on all aspects of life – and should not be entered into without counting the cost.
Building a strong marriage is a life-long endeavor. It takes commitment, hard work and sacrifice on a daily basis. When an imbalance of work, strained finances, or lack of communication slowly cause damage, or there is hurt and mistrust, it takes even more from each person to restore a marriage, but it’s not impossible. Typically, if you or your spouse are at the point of considering divorce, it’s going to take a good deal of hard work to get your marriage back on track.
“Your marriage isn’t doomed because you hurt one another, have difficulty communicating or have disagreements over important issues… Ask other couples what it took to build a strong and successful marriage. Rest assured that their strong marriages did not develop overnight. They experienced some of the same problems you have. One reason their marriages are strong today is that they were committed to the idea that no matter what obstacles they faced, they would learn to manage their problems and overcome crisis on an ongoing basis,” says Focus on the Family.
Before deciding that divorce is the only option, do these five things first:
Identify your role and responsibility
“No one is perfect. No matter what the issues are, no matter how difficult a partner we’ve picked, we all contribute, in some way, to the problems we have. Perhaps we’re provocative, or dismissive, or we don’t keep our word. Perhaps we’ve been unwilling to speak up, or be honest, or tackle our marital difficulties head on. Maybe we’re too quick to flare or to blame.
Taking responsibility for your part isn’t the same thing as being fully at fault. No matter what’s happened, you’re not responsible for your partner’s behaviors and responses. You are, however, responsible for yours.
Accurately assessing your contribution will help you identify behavior changes that might improve your marriage enough that you’ll decide to stay put and work on them,” according to Winifred M. Reilly, a psychotherapist specializing in marital therapy and relationship issues.
You can’t control your spouses behavior, you can only control your own.
Ask hard questions and answer honestly
Clinical Psychologist Bruce Derman, Ph.D and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Wendy Gregson collaborated to produce a list of eight questions to ask yourself when determining if you are ready for a divorce:
- Do you still have feelings for your partner?
- Were you ever really married?
- Are you truly ready for divorce or are you just threatening?
- Is this a sincere decision based on self-awareness or is it an emotionally reactive decision?
- What is your intent in wanting a divorce?
- Have you resolved your internal conflict over the divorce?
- Can you handle the unpleasant consequences of divorce?
- Are you willing to take control of your life in a responsible and mature way?
Communicate with your spouse
Communicating in a respectful, calm, and non-accusatory manner will open the door for meaningful conversation with your spouse. Focus on the Family offers these suggestions for getting started:
- Begin by approaching your spouse at the right time and in the right manner. Choose a time when he or she is not distracted or too stressed or tired.
- Approach your spouse in a non-confrontational manner. An angry tone of voice or condescending “parent to child” approach will only cause him or her to shut down.
- Make sure you bring up the topic in a non-threatening way. If your communication pattern has digressed to the point that when you bring up this topic, your spouse becomes defensive and “blows up,” you may consider writing him or her a letter to be read when you are not present. This gives your spouse time to think about what was said and respond without all the emotions.
- Don’t say, “You need counseling.” Recognize and admit that “we” have a problem, and it must be addressed as a team.
Commit to marriage counseling
Committing to a minimum time frame for counseling gives you and your spouse the opportunity to work through the difficult aspects of your relationship without the threat of one partner quitting when things get hard. Seeking counseling may seem daunting at first, but knowing what to expect and finding a quality, licensed therapist is worth the investment to save your marriage from divorce.
Attend a marriage intensive experience
“Right now, your situation may feel like two people, too far apart, with too much damage done to save your marriage. But, before you and your spouse close the door forever, you owe it to yourselves, and possibly your children, to give saving your marriage another try,” says the Hope Restored website. “The Intensive format was designed to allow individuals to get to the root of their issues quickly, with ample time to focus on resolution and growth. The extended amount of time spent within the Intensive setting gives couples the opportunity to go deeper without many of the distractions of daily life, and time to stay long enough to consider the solutions available to them.”
Resolving marital issues takes time and effort and it’s best to consider all of the options before approaching your spouse about divorce. A consultation with The Alabama Law Group can answer questions and help you understand your legal options for divorce. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.