Relationships rarely deteriorate in some awful instant; even catching a spouse in an act of infidelity does not “just happen” but signals a decline percolating in the marriage for some time. So, it makes sense not to think that divorce “just happens” in an instant. Choosing to end a marriage carries serious, life-altering consequences, and one must be sure of that path before beginning the process.
The New York Times recently ran an excellent article that poses 11 questions to ask before one pursues a divorce. Rather than rehash each question, we thought we would summarize the advice in a few points.
First, take the marriage seriously enough to examine why you find yourself at this point and if you can do something to make it better. Consider therapy, couples counseling and other options, particularly if you still love your spouse. Until you give some time and reflection to what went wrong in the marriage, you cannot give a solid answer to whether the marriage can be saved or is worth saving.
Second, think practically about the consequences of moving forward with a divorce. Do you think the children will suffer from the end of the marriage? Do you have a financial plan in place that will allow you to leave the marriage with the ability to continue supporting yourself without real financial hardship? Can you and your spouse sustain a lifestyle if divorced? Have you thought about the emotional strain of divorce and if you are prepared to take those steps?
Third, think about how to move forward with your life in a healthy manner that will leave you as whole as possible emotionally and financially. We all like to think we can learn from mistakes, and for a marriage to collapse both spouses had to have contributed. Take the time to understand what happened before jumping forward into future relationships. Take a hard look at how you have parented and managed your life; see where positive changes can be made.
Each step on the road to and through divorce requires more reason and less passion, which may seem ironic, but it is true. Marriage is more than just love and feelings; it is a commitment, a partnership, an entanglement. Leaving a marriage can be as disastrous as the marriage itself or a soft landing to a hard fall. Counting to ten, doing your homework and seeking advice, from counselors to experienced attorneys, makes an incredible difference in your outcome.
If you have questions about divorce, contact us – we can help.