when is it time to divorce

“When is it time to get a divorce?” This question is honestly one of the hardest to answer. I should not be answering or making that decision for you. However, if you’re asking this question and feel like you can’t make a decision, I have some excellent tips and things for you to think through (that you likely have not heard anywhere else!).

I’m going to tell you these important tips based on my training as a marriage and family therapist, my master’s in psychology (I’m currently getting my Ph.D. in psychology), plus the work I’ve done as the CEO of Marriage Helper. Marriage Helper reaches thousands and thousands of couples every single year. Many of the marriages we work with are on the brink of divorce (i.e., divorce papers signed, filed, all hope is gone). Yet, marriage Helper still sees over 70% of those marriages saved from our Marriage Turnaround Weekend (even when one spouse doesn’t want to go!).

 

Nobody Should Decide This, Except YOU.

To start, the most important thing I want you to hear when it comes to asking yourself, “When is it time to divorce?” is that nobody can make this decision except you. I’m not here to make that decision for you. Your counselor should not make that decision for you. Your best friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your cousin, your long-lost Aunt that you found through DNA testing; No one should make this decision but you.

When people in your life learn about your marriage or what your spouse has done, they may not give the best advice. They see how hurt you are, and they don’t want to see you in pain anymore. But many people don’t know the hope and the change that CAN happen on the other side.

Instead, they recommend what they believe will make you happier, which is to get a divorce.

And unfortunately, counselors have done this many times as well. By the way, I am pro-counselor when you have a good one, but, unfortunately, there are so many counselors and therapists out there who recommend divorce because you’re “not happy” or your spouse “isn’t happy.”

 

A Note On Safety

First, if you are in a position where you aren’t safe, protect yourself. Your safety is the FIRST priority. Physical, mental, or emotional abuse on you or your children requires help immediately. Call the Domestic Violence Hotline at: 1-800-799-7233.

And if divorce is part of that process of protecting yourself, then I support you in that decision. But let’s talk about what that means. If you are physically unsafe, where you are being hurt or harmed in any way, or if you are mentally/emotionally hurt or injured, safety is your first priority. Being abused in those ways, with the types of fights you’re having, in words said to you, where you don’t feel safe, or your children are not safe, you MUST get to safety. That is your number one goal. That’s what you need to do. And if divorce is a part of that, again, I support you in doing that.

I also recommended that you contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at: 1-800-799-7233. Do what it takes to get safe. I am very passionate about that.

 

Ask Yourself, “Do I Have Peace?”

The majority of situations are not situations like that. Instead, cases at Marriage Helper usually involve a spouse who has an addiction or is currently engaged in an affair. Or there are “irreconcilable differences” where you can’t get along. You’re always fighting. You can’t figure out how to make things work. And so, it seems like the easier option is to divorce.

I want to encourage you to go back to this very first concept. I want you to find peace in that if you don’t have peace about divorce. If there’s any part of you saying, “It doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t sound right. I want to make my marriage work.” Then don’t divorce your spouse! Don’t move forward in it if you don’t have peace.

There’s a flip side of this as well. What if you’re NOT the one pushing for a divorce? Saying, “I’m not the one filing for divorce! My spouse filed, and I can’t stop them!” You may not control whether or not you get a divorce, it may happen to you, but it’s not who you are. Remember, you can ONLY control yourself.

You CAN Do The Things

The best thing you can do is continue to work on yourself, becoming the best you can be. Because at the end of the day, you might not have control over whether or not you divorce. I want to remind you that that is not a reflection of your value–just because a divorce might happen to you, even though you don’t want it. It doesn’t mean that you’re not loved, not seen, that you don’t have value, or that you don’t have worth, even though you’re probably going to feel a lot of shame about what’s happening.

I want to help you recalibrate your thinking, see yourself differently, and realize that you can only control what you can control. And that is you. 

You can’t control your spouse, you can’t control the reason they’re doing this, and you can’t control how fast or slow the process goes. The only thing you can do is control yourself.

You can do things that help you become the best you can be. You can do something with the best possibility of bringing your marriage back. But you might be saying, “I don’t know how to do this.” So start here. 

One of the first things that break down in marriage, way before a divorce is filed, is communication. (And you probably know this to be true.) So think back to when your problems started, and then think back a little bit before that and ask yourself, honestly, “How were we talking to each other?” Then, ask yourself, “Did we communicate with each other in a way that showed respect, kindness, empathy, and love to one another?” 

 

Fix The Communication Breakdown 

Most of the time, a communication breakdown is one of those deciding factors that predict if a relationship will go south. For example, we begin to fight more. We begin to push our spouse to do things we want them to do. We stop listening, only see our way, and might become selfish or prideful. And, we don’t think that we’re doing this at the time. We don’t realize it’s coming across this way, but that’s precisely how it’s happening. 

And this is probably a two-way street in your relationship. You’re thinking back to how you suddenly began to fight about the tiniest things and hold grudges. And then, you just started to see all the problems in your spouse, their flaws, the things that annoyed the heck out of you, and you wanted your spouse to change.

So you began to bring it up; you began to push your spouse to be different. Then, your spouse began to feel like you didn’t love them the way they were. So you felt resentful. And you probably were getting similar reactions from your spouse. They were pointing out things about you they didn’t appreciate or something they wanted you to change. And this started a volatile cycle of communication. Finally, you got to a point where you couldn’t even talk anymore without feeling defensive, without fighting, or without completely shutting your spouse out. 

If any of this happened to you, we have a free course at Marriage Helper. Our free mini-course teaches you how to get your spouse to talk to you. It teaches you how to redo conversations you’ve had in your relationship, to change how you’ve been communicating so you can have the best chance of positive communication. No matter what happens, divorce or no divorce, especially if children are involved, your communication can be better. It’s so important. 

I also teach you how to become the best that you can be, no matter what’s happening in the world around you. Whether the divorce is happening, filed, or whatever it is, you need to feel grounded. You need to regain your self-esteem. You need to get confidence back, and I will teach you exactly how you can do that in our free mini-course. 

 

Know That Divorce Is Not The Only Option

Another point I want to share with you is this. Just because you may not have seen a situation where this has worked out before, it doesn’t mean divorce is the only way. One of the most common examples I see is that people find out that their spouse is having an affair and feel like divorce is their only option. They don’t even know another option might work.

And I want to tell you, friends, that there IS another way. And I want to say to you, friends, that no matter what has impacted or affected your marriage, I am not surprised. At Marriage Helper, we’re not surprised. In fact, we’ve seen marriages affected by everything you can think of!

Now, do all of them end up saved? Unfortunately, no, not all of them. But with the marriages we work with–and especially those who can come to our three-day turnaround weekend–we have over a 70% success rate at those marriages surviving and being better than ever before. 

I believe there’s hope for your marriage, even if you can’t see it right now. People can change. I believe that most spouses are good people currently doing things that are not good, but they’re not bad people at their core. They’re good people. And I believe in situations like that, the marriage deserves rescue. 

I also believe if, in your heart, you want to do everything in your power to try and make this marriage work, then I want to help you do that! I believe your marriage can find restoration. 

 

Why Do I Believe This?

I believe this because I wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for two people who fought the odds. And even after they divorced, they remarried each other and had me. So I believe that there’s always hope no matter what you’re facing. 

Even if you put all of yourself into this and you fight, try, and do everything you can to stand and save your marriage, even if divorce ends up happening, you will be a better person in the long run. You are going to have calm in the middle of the chaos. You will have peace about the situation when you do the right things. We want to teach you what those things are. 

You can start by visiting our free mini-course, but you can also always look at the other options and resources we have for you. For example, we have coaching, a turnaround weekend with over 70% success at saving marriages, and other online courses like our Save My Marriage Course aimed at the spouse who doesn’t want the divorce and wants to make the marriage work. 

Remember, if you feel like the ONLY option is divorce, we want to show you another way. We have seen and heard every story imaginable. Yet, no matter what the crisis is, we know that there is HOPE. People can change. 

If you truly believe and want to try everything you can to make your marriage work, we’re here to help. Get in contact with us here to learn how we can help you.

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