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“Should I get a divorce?” – Everything you need to know to decide

“Should I get a divorce?”

Are you asking yourself this question?

It’s not easy. In fact, the conflicting emotions you’re most likely experiencing right now are darn right brutal.

This is especially the case if your life is so intertwined because of kids and shared resources.

I mean, how are you possibly supposed to answer whether your marriage has more to give?

Or if divorce is really the only logical answer?

In this article, I want to do the best I can to guide you in deciding whether or not a divorce is the better option for you.

Keep in mind that a marriage counselor or a trained psychologist is still the best people you could talk to about this matter, but knowing what you want moving forward can help you get started.

We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started.

Firstly, don’t feel worthless

I’ve seen it time and time again.

People feel like a failure if they get a divorce, or even consider one.

This is normal because of the lessons we have learned from a young age.

We’re taught that our plan in life should be to eventually grow up, get married, have a family and live happily ever after.

And those that are unable to do so are failures.

But that’s not true for a variety of reasons.

And even if it was true, it means that there are a lot of failures walking around.

Studies suggest that 40 to 45% of first marriages end in divorce. That number increases the more times you get married; 73% of third marriages end up in divorce.

Make no mistake about it:

Divorce and separate-parent households used to be a conservative option but are increasingly becoming a common occurrence in American culture.

So don’t feel like a failure. It’s completely normal to get a divorce or to consider a divorce.

Let’s consider why you are thinking about a divorce

There’s no getting around it.

Going down the road that leads you to think about divorce is never an easy path.

In fact, it’s heartbreaking.

No matter how tough a relationship might be, considering that you might truly want a divorce is a realization that no one ever wants to experience.

After all, most people who get married do it with their whole heart and mind convinced that they are marrying their soulmate.

So how does the soulmate become the person you want to get away from?

Understanding why you are considering divorce is the first question you need to answer, because it’s the best way to discover your true needs.

Here are the three main reasons why people think about a divorce:

3 Main Reasons for Divorce

Image credit: Shutterstock – Cookie Studio

1) Your partner hurt you in a significant way.

Maybe they cheated on you, they betrayed you, or they physically hurt you in ways you can absolutely not forgive.

You should never feel that your life is entangled with a person who no longer cares for you. If this is the case – divorce is something you should consider immediately.

2) You hate your life with your partner.

You feel trapped and you don’t know how it turned out this way.

It was a slow transition from the honeymoon stage after your wedding, to this unrecognizable mess that makes up your relationship today.

You no longer feel like you can grow or improve because of the many little ways that your partner brings you down.

They may have not done a single big thing to hurt you, but they ruin your life in so many subtle ways.

3) Something has changed.

Something has changed in the dynamic of your relationship. Last week everything was perfect, but now it seems like your marriage is on the brink of collapse.

Maybe you met someone else. Maybe your priorities no longer match your partner’s priorities.

Maybe you are just finally wrapping your mind about something in the relationship – a quality of your partner, the status of your life, or the “forever” nature of the marriage itself.

If your partner has hurt you and you no longer feel safe or stable in your relationship, then it might be best to get a divorce.

If you are absolutely dissatisfied with your life with your partner, there might be ways to save the relationship (if you even want to try them).

But if the idea of the divorce has come suddenly and out of nowhere, then you might want to understand your feelings before making any drastic decisions.

In these cases, it is important to understand that marriages have stages, and each stage comes with its own new emotions and experiences, some good and some bad.

Overcoming these challenges can lead you to the best relationship of your life – it’s up to you to know when they are challenges you can overcome, and when they are signs that it’s time to get a divorce.

7 Stages of Married Life

Pain and strife are normal in a marriage; deciding to tie your life together with another person means every struggle, every complication, and every obstacle you would normally face alone is now interwoven with your partner.

If you feel like you might be aching for a divorce, it is important to understand first the various stages of married life, identify where you and your partner might be, and thereby recognizing the cause of your own current pain.

1) Passion

Passion is the first stage of any married life, no matter how old or young you and your partner may be.

There are few problems during this stage because you are overwhelmed by the feel-good chemicals blasting off in your brain – everything seems perfect.

2) Realization

The passionate honeymoon stage fades away and the realization sets in.

You realize that your life has now completely changed: you are tied to another person, and dating other people is completely off the table.

This makes some people freak out in little ways, and you should expect early conflicts and slight disappointments.

Overcoming realization requires having patience with your partner to give them time to accept their new life – the life they chose with you.

3) Rebellion

Marriage is all about merging two lives into one, but this can be difficult to wrap your head around.

Even if you and your partner match on so many different levels, it’s virtually impossible to be the same in all aspects of your life.

You might have different interests and needs, and these conflicting needs with a life that is supposed to be lived together can lead to unhappiness on both ends.

This power struggle is known as the rebellion stage, and getting over it means to compromise.

But ultimately, the rebellion stage is a growing stage, just like realization – compromise until you and your partner understand that this is now your life, and it is better than the life you had when you were single.

4) Cooperation

As your lives grow, so too do the complications of keeping your lives perfectly entwined.

It can be more and more difficult to be a happily married couple raising a family as your careers evolve, as your responsibilities become greater, and as other people start to need you – from work colleagues, to friends and family, to your own kids.

The stress of this stage can be enough to overwhelm even the best relationships.

Mortgages, investments, health needs, social needs, career responsibilities, children – so many new things that you never had to deal with when you were single.

Without cooperation, it can be very easy to end up hating your partner. This stage can last 10 to 20 years, particularly if you have children.

5) Reunion

Reunion happens when the responsibilities of your mid-life with your partner start to wane.

Your career has set in – there might be little to no growth, but you are happy and satisfied.

Your mortgage is paid and your financial security is looked after. And your children are finally adults – they can live on their own without constant care and supervision.

You and your partner finally have the chance to stop hustling so much and just appreciate each other once again the way you did in the past.

No matter how hard the cooperation stage was, as long as you respected each other enough during all the time, you will realize you have the greatest love of your life.

6) Explosion

Explosion can occur at any point during the marriage, and it happens when a sudden unexpected source of stress and pain enters the relationship.

These can include financial troubles, the loss of a job, the death of a loved one, serious health problems, and more – anything that adds unexpected and unwanted major strain to you and your spouse’s life.

This personal crisis can make us lose control of our emotions. A single major event can start a spiral that invades every other part of your life, and sooner or later you will inevitably involve your relationship with your partner.

Suddenly, your life is full of redirected anger and pain, and this goes to the person who is closest and dearest to your heart.

7) Completion

Countless studies have found that the happiest point in any marriage occurs after the couple has spent decades together, and it’s no surprise why.

If you and your partner have the patience, respect, and the love to go through all the hardships that life has to offer, you will both be rewarded with the best kind of love a person can ever experience.

Normal VS Abnormal Married Behavior

NormalAbnormal
Sexual interest comes and goesComplete and abrupt stop in sexual intimacy
Partners desire more alone timePartners never want to spend time with each other at all
Partners can get bored of each other’s stories or eccentricities, but still love each otherPartners have a complete loss of empathy, caring very little for their significant other
Fights and arguments; rough patches in the relationshipsCycles of abuse, unprovoked and random

Before The Divorce: 6 Things To Try First

If your marriage is hitting a rough patch for the first time, you don’t want to be too trigger happy with a divorce.

Just like marriage, this decision is ultimately life-changing and is essentially an open declaration that you’ve exhausted everything else in your lives.

Unless your situation is completely terrible and involves abuse or anything that poses a threat to your life, your family, or children, consider trying out some things that could help save your marriage:

1) Don’t Withdraw

After fighting about something for the thousandth time, it’s understandable you’d rather shut down and say whatever ends the conversation instead of spending hours trying to convince your spouse otherwise.

This is a common tendency among many married couples who think withdrawing in silence is a viable compromise.

In truth, this behavior is self-defeatist and extremely harmful to your relationship.

Not only do you teach yourself to retreat instead of being communicative, but you are also unknowingly allowing wounds to fester instead of having your spouse come in and help you resolve these feelings.

Next time there’s an argument, choose to speak out instead of hiding your feelings. Letting exhaustion dictate your interactions is a sure-fire way to make things even worse than they are.

2) Fight Fair

Even the most perfect couples fight from time to time. What isn’t normal, however, is using these fights as an excuse to lash out on your spouse.

Continued disappointment and disillusionment can sour the relationship and lessen your affection for one another, but mutual respect should be a staple in your relationship, even during your most aggressive fights.

Most couples make the mistake of thinking that a happy marriage means a fight-less marriage. This expectation only sets up couples for disappointment.

Instead of aiming for zero conflict, teach yourselves to fight better. When you fight, skip the insults and name-calling.

Avoid bringing up past mistakes and focus on what this specific fight is all about. Disagreements can turn into arguments, but they don’t necessarily have to turn into a fight.

3) Rediscover Sexual Intimacy

One of the most common pieces of advice for marriages experiencing turbulence is to rekindle physical intimacy.

While it doesn’t really dig deep into the psychological and emotional conflicts in your marriage, you don’t need to see a marriage counselor to know that being intimate with each other can help improve bonding and reduce tension.

Maintaining a physical relationship promotes intimacy between two people.

Even simple touches like holding hands, pats on the shoulder, and hugging can stimulate oxytocin production, which is the hormone associated with socialization and bonding.

The more you touch your spouse, the more your brain associates him or her with feel-good brain chemicals.

4) Praise The Small Things Out Loud

Taking each other for granted is one of the common reasons why marriages fail. This small violation breeds unhappiness and discontent, which often spirals into more serious problems in a partnership.

This can be easily avoided by simply thanking your partner for all the little things.

For most couples, the married life is less about life with your partner and more about sharing resources and taking care of the kids.

The implicit obligation of providing and caring for the family can make your partner’s everyday efforts seem obvious and not deserving of praise.

And that’s precisely why thanking each other for something as simple as holding the door open or making coffee is important in keeping a relationship alive.

It’s easy to get lost in every day and forget that staying committed to a long-term relationship is a choice; your partner knowingly wakes up next to you everyday and chooses to do it every single day of the year.

Marriage alone isn’t driving them to stay with you – they do because they want to, and that alone is worth thanking for.

You don’t have to wait for your spouse to make a grand gesture before you thank them. Let them know they are unconditionally loved in all things, big or small.

5) Establish A Safe Word

And no, we don’t mean for the bedroom. In essence, a safe word brings you back to reality and is a call to pull out all the stops.

During a fight, it’s difficult to decrease the intensity and go back to level one when you’re already both fired up.

More often than not, it’s downright impossible to communicate our desire to stop a fight because of how tense the situation is.

What makes the safe word work is that it’s a neutral word.

During the height of a fight, neither parties want to expressly say they want to stop fighting or that they’re apologetic.

A safe word communicates this intent without any emotional attachments or complications.

6) Take The Blame

At the end of the day, what matters isn’t so much the cause of the fight but how your partner reacted to conflict.

Don’t let your last waking memory be about you and your partner blaming each other. When a compromise is far from reach, learn to take the hits if they are within reason.

Sometimes people fight because they’re stressed and frustrated about something else entirely and unknowingly use the marriage as an outlet.

Of course this is different from living with a cycle of abuse. If your partner has disruptive behavior and is unwilling to take any kind of blame, you might be better off leaving the marriage.

5 Instances Where A Divorce Is Better Than Staying In An Unhappy Marriage

Image credit: Shutterstock – By Roman Kosolapov

1) Your Children Will Benefit More With Single Parenting

People stay in unhappy marriages for the sake of keeping the family unit together. However, when the marriage turns too toxic and abusive, divorce opens a new opportunity for you and your kids to find a better life elsewhere.

If staying in that home environment will unquestioningly taint your kids’ of what a healthy relationship should look like, you are better off raising your children on your own.

Without all the negative energy in your life, you now get the freedom and space to exhibit what healthy love should look like.

2) Divorce Gives You The Chance To Meet The Right Partner

Divorce is scary because it can feel like starting all over again. It’s hard to wrap your head around the idea of rejoining the dating scene after you’ve already committed your life to someone else.

But if the prospect of dating and finding someone better suited for you is actually exciting, it’s a sign that divorce might be a better option for you.

Passion comes and goes in a marriage, but love stays no matter what phase you and your spouse are in.

But if your marriage has become so loveless that the idea of a divorce actually excites you, it’s a clear sign you said yes to the wrong person.

3) You Finally Get To Take Care Of Yourself

Traditional people might say that getting a divorce is self-serving.

A marriage might be binding two people to certain obligations or responsibilities, but this doesn’t mean people should stay in them in spite of adverse circumstances.

When a lifelong partnership with someone is doing you more harm than good, divorce is not so much an act of selfishness as it is a reaffirmation of self-love.

Ultimately, entering a divorce means reclaiming your freedom. When solitude is more favorable than a partnership, then you know you’re making the right decision.

If your marriage is so suffocating that you have forgotten who you are as a person or have no time for yourself, going through with the divorce will give you your much-needed alone time.

4) Divorce Isn’t The Worst Thing To Happen To You

Getting a divorce is disruptive not only to you but to your family and your children.

For the most part, unhappy couples avoid it simply because it forces them to live with a life that is entirely different from what they had bargained for.

The idea of breaking up a marriage is starting over is especially challenging because no one wants to have to rethink their entire lives all over again.

But once you get over the initial shock of getting the divorce and you see that it’s not the worst thing to happen to your life, you’ll realize that a bad marriage is just a chapter in your book, and that unrooting your life temporarily instead of living with what you currently have is a much better option in the long-run.

Preparing for the Divorce, and Life After

Person with a deep personality meditating
Image Credit: Shutterstock –
Yuganov Konstantin

If you’ve decided to proceed with the divorce, there are certain preparations you should make, ideally before letting your spouse know.

This is especially true for men and women who are trying to escape potentially abusive partners who may withhold resources and hold you hostage in the unhappy marriage.

Think about the following after deciding you want a divorce:

  • Where are you going to live? Who owns the property?
  • Do you have a prenuptial agreement? How does that affect the distribution of assets?
  • Is divorce the best option considering your children? Are they better off living with a single parent?
  • Are you going to be fighting for full custody for your children?
  • Is this the first time you are having a major fight?
  • Have you tried working it out with a marriage counselor?
  • Do you have independent access to your funds and other assets?
  • Are you able to travel freely without your spouse?

Preparing for the worst-case scenario before breaking out the news is essential.

It’s not about being negative; it’s about anticipating the worst thing that could happen and giving yourself the mental buff to weather through it no matter what.

As you decide the details following your divorce, it’s important to be around people who will love you and support you as you go through the process.

It’s easy to feel alone following a divorce, so keep yourself surrounded by friends and family members who will stick around until the end.

Having a divorce doesn’t mean you have to be alone; if anything, it gives you the chance to finally be with the right people.

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Lachlan Brown

Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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