“When is it time to get a divorce?” This is honestly one of the hardest questions you could answer- and definitely one of the hardest questions for me to answer, because I should not be answering or making that decision for you. However, if you’re asking this question, I have some very good tips and things for you to think through (that you likely have not heard anywhere else!).
What I’m going to tell you is based on my training as a marriage and family therapist, my master’s in psychology (and, I’m currently getting my PhD in psychology), plus the work I’ve done as the CEO of Marriage Helper. Marriage Helper helps thousands and thousands of couples every single year. Many of the marriages Marriage Helper works with are on the brink of divorce (i.e. divorce papers signed, filed, all hope is gone) and Marriage Helper still sees a 77% of those marriages saved from the marriage turnaround weekend (even when one spouse doesn’t even want to go!).
First, 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 should make that decision, but 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 the people in your life learn what’s going on in your marriage, or what your spouse has done, and they see how hurt you are, they don’t want to see you in pain anymore. But many people don’t see the hope and the change that CAN happen on the other side. Instead, they simply recommend what they believe will end up making 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 really good one, but it’s unfortunate that 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 being mentally or emotionally hurt or harmed, being abused in those ways, with the types of fights that you’re having, in words said to you, where you literally don’t feel safe, or your children are not safe, then one hundred percent 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.
Tip #1 Ask Yourself, “Do I Have Peace?”
The majority of situations though, are not situations like that. Instead, situations at Marriage Helper could involve a spouse who has an addiction, or is currently involved in an affair, or there are “irreconcilable differences,” where you just 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…
What I want to encourage you with is going back to this very first concept. The first thing is, I want you to really 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.
Now 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. You can ONLY control yourself.
Tip #2 You CAN Do The Things
So the best thing you can do is to continue to work on you, 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, you’re 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 at least help you recalibrate your thinking, to 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 you.
You can do the things that help you become the best that you can be. You can do the things that have 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 breaks down in marriage, waaaay before a divorce is filed, is communication. (And you probably know this to be true.) 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?” And not just were we talking to each other, and are we talking to each other about our day or football or the weather or whatever it is, ask yourself, “Did we communicate with each other in a way that showed respect, kindness, empathy, and love to one another?”
And Fix The Communication Breakdown
Because most of the time, a communication breakdown is one of those predicting factors that predict if a relationship is going to go south. For example, we begin to fight more. We begin to push our spouse to do things that we want them to do. We stop listening, we only see our way, and we 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 exactly how it’s happening.
And this is probably a two way street in your relationship. When you’re thinking back to how all of a sudden you began to fight about the tiniest things and hold grudges. And then, you just started to see all the problems that your spouse had… their flaws, the things that annoyed the heck out of you about your spouse, 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 things that they wanted you to change. And this started a really unstable cycle of communication. So much so, 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 actually have a free course at marriage helper, our free mini course on how to get your spouse to talk to you. It teaches you how to redo conversations you’ve had in your relationship to change the way you’ve been communicating so you can have the best chance of positive communication, no matter what happens, divorce or no divorce, and especially if there’s children involved. It’s so important.
I also teach you in the free mini course, how you can 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 teach you exactly how you can do that in this free mini course.
Tip #3 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 it’s the only way. One of the most common examples I see is people find out that their spouse is having an affair and they feel like divorce is their only option. They don’t even see another option might be a possibility…
And I want to tell you, friends, that there IS another way. And I want to tell you, friends, that no matter what has impacted or affected your marriage, that I am not surprised. My team at marriage helper, we’re not surprised. In fact, we’ve seen marriages affected by everything you could think of!
Now, do all of them end up being saved? Unfortunately, no, not all of them, but with the ones we do work with- and especially those who are able to come to our three day turnaround weekend– we have a 77% success rate at those marriages being saved.
I believe there’s hope for your marriage, even if you can’t see it right now. People can change. I believe that people may be good people who are currently doing things that are not good, but at their core, they’re not a bad person. They’re a good person. And I believe in situations like that, the marriage deserves to be rescued.
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 be restored, and saved.
Why do I believe this?
I believe this because I wouldn’t even be in existence, I wouldn’t be alive today, if it weren’t for two people who fought the odds. And even after they divorced, remarried each other again, and had me. I believe that no matter what you’re up against, there’s always hope.
Even if you put all of yourself into this and you fight, and you try, and you do everything you can to stand and save your marriage, even if divorce ends up happening, you are going to be a better person in the long run. You are going to have the calm in the middle of the chaos. You are going to have peace about the situation when you do the right things. We want to teach you what those things are.
You can start by going to our free mini course, but you can also always look at the other options and resources we have for you. We have coaching, a turnaround weekend with a 77% success rate at saving marriages, or even other online courses like our save my marriage course, that is specifically designed for the spouse, like you, 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 there is another way. We have seen and heard every story imaginable. 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.
For more Marriage Helper content, visit our Youtube Channel here!