Do you think you might want to get a divorce? Do you feel like your marriage is hopeless, and you’ve just had enough? You are not alone; problems in marriage often seem to have a snowball effect, and can quickly build resentment and anger. Whether it is having an affair, lying about money, anger or depression in the marriage, it is never an easy decision to divorce, and should never be made haphazardly. Here are 7 things to know when thinking about getting a divorce:
1. Most couples wait years too long to seek marriage counseling. This is a shame because we know counseling can help, even when only one partner receives it. Changes one partner makes have a more impactful effect on the marriage than most people realize. Get help early, and if your partner won’t go with you, then go alone.
2. Consult a lawyer BEFORE you do anything. It is critical to seek legal advice in order to consider what actions you need to take in order to ensure the best possible outcome. If you wait, and you’ve already messed up, it’s impossible to go back and do it over.
3. Realize that your financial situation will likely change. Don’t wait until you are in a desperate situation to do something about it. Be proactive in talking with a lawyer about how to protect yourself, and what you need to do to move forward. Do this BEFORE you decide to get a divorce.
4. If there is domestic violence, substance abuse, or any kind of physical or emotional abuse towards you or your children, take the children and get to a safe place immediately. Contact the authorities and get legal help right away.
5. Consider whether there is any hope, even an ounce that things can get better. Don’t decide to get a divorce until you have exhausted all other possibilities and there is no hope remaining. If there was infidelity or lying, ask yourself if there’s any chance of forgiveness and moving forward, or if you simply cannot stay in the marriage. Know what you will and will not tolerate.
6. Realize that divorce will not solve all of your problems. If you are depressed, you will likely still be depressed after a divorce. If you are angry, you will likely get angrier. Why? Because you will still have to deal with this very person that you are having difficulty communicating and getting along with. Everything you hate about him will be exacerbated during the divorce.
7. Consider the effects of divorce on children. Even in the best cases, where parents get along and work together to co-parent, there is still an impact. Children’s lives are forever changed, shuttling back and forth between two households, doubting the institution of marriage itself, and often feeling confused and guilty about forming alliances with each parent. If you have children, you will likely be sharing custody and will be required to frequently communicate and collaborate with the other person, the one you have chosen to divorce so you don’t have to deal with anymore.
If you are thinking about getting a divorce, realize that sometimes it really is the best or the only option. Know that you are not alone, that while it may be tough, life will go on, and with a bit of effort from both parents, the kids will be okay. Be informed and get support deciding, “should I get a divorce?”