When is Divorce the Best Choice?

When is divorce the best choice? Nobody plans to get divorced. Almost everyone who gets married hopes and believes it is the start of “happily ever after,” despite statistics that suggest almost half of all marriages end in divorce. When it turns out your marriage is one of them, it can be easy to feel like a failure, even when you would never think of a divorcing friend or family member that way. If you have children, this feeling may be intensified; you may feel you are depriving your children of an “intact” family.

There is a post going around Facebook these days in which someone asks an elderly married couple how they managed to stay together for over six decades. The response was that they grew up in a time when if something was broken, you fixed it rather than throwing it away. Many people find this post inspirational, which is why it has been widely shared. But it can also feel like a shaming rebuke to people who did choose to get a divorce, as if they were too lazy or wasteful to “fix” their broken marriage.

Divorce is hard enough to go through without beating yourself up. As with every other situation in life, you make the best decision you can with the information and circumstances you have. Let’s talk about when divorce is the best choice, and what to do afterward.

It Takes Two

No matter how hard you try, you cannot make a marriage successful by yourself. If you and your spouse are both committed to working through an issue in your marriage, there is a chance that you can move forward successfully. If one of you is not committed to working on the issues in the marriage then it is going to be virtually impossible to make your marriage work. You may be able to avoid divorce, but simply avoiding divorce does not mean that you have a marriage that works for either one of you.

How do you decide if divorce is the best choice you have? Sometimes, your spouse makes the choice for you by asking for a divorce or by filing for divorce. If you don’t want the divorce, but your spouse stands firm in their decision, your best option is to prepare yourself, get a lawyer you can trust, and go through the divorce with as much support as you can gather around you.

If it is you who is wondering whether divorce is your best option you have the luxury of fully exploring your options and talking with trusted advisors first (not necessarily family and friends) about the issues that are cropping up in your marriage and then about all of your options which include staying, getting counseling or filing for divorce.  

Deciding Whether to Divorce

First and foremost, you need to take your own temperature. Do YOU want to save the marriage, or does the idea of leaving give you a sense of relief, even if the problems you’ve identified in the marriage could be fixed? Is there anything that could happen that would make you want to NOT divorce? If not, then you have your answer.

If there are problems that, if resolved, could make the marriage worth saving, the next question is whether your spouse is willing to work on them with you. Is he or she willing to go to counseling together? Are there specific changes that either or both of you need to make in order to stay together? Although it may be hard, the first question you need to answer is what am I willing to change in myself to make this relationship work?  Have I done enough or am I willing to do more to make this work? If you have truly looked within and decided that you are satisfied with who you are and that you have done all you can, then you can look to your spouse and ask if they are willing to make necessary changes. If you have talked to your spouse about these changes, and he or she ignores your needs, or promises to change without taking any action, you may have to face the reality that your spouse is not committed to putting in the effort to make your marriage work.

Other signs that divorce might be the best choice for you:

  • Your spouse has shown a repeated pattern of abuse
  • Your spouse has alcohol or substance abuse issues and will not get help
  • Your spouse has repeatedly been unfaithful and shows no real interest in changing
  • One or both of you can’t let go of past wrongs and keep dragging them into current arguments
  • You or your spouse blames the other person for all the problems in the marriage and will not take any responsibility
  • One of you has announced a different sexual orientation or gender identity and either of you does not want to stay married in light of that.

One thing you should know is that you don’t need to have absolutely decided on divorce before consulting a divorce attorney. A consultation with a divorce attorney can help you to understand what to expect from the divorce process and give you information you may need to make your decision. If you are leaning toward divorce, speaking with a divorce attorney can also help you understand what you should be doing to prepare yourself, both emotionally and practically.

Choosing divorce is never easy; it means letting go of that once-upon-a-time dream of what your marriage would be. But sometimes divorce is the best and kindest choice, not only for you but for your spouse and children.

If you are interested in a consultation to discuss whether divorce is the best choice for you, we invite you to contact Mundahl Law.

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