All couples have their ups and downs, and many storms can be weathered with love and dedication to their marital commitment. Many of us (my husband of 26 years and I included) have tried (or should resort to) marriage counseling to get us back on track. The decision to divorce is a life-altering choice that should be made carefully and without haste.
Before you head out to see a lawyer, even a collaborative one, assess your emotional inventory, as well as your spouse’s, and examine your marital dynamics to gauge whether you both are capable of saving your marriage or if, in fact, it is time to move on.
Here are five crucial queries to ponder to help you walk through the process, gain clarity, and make your decision to divorce with confidence, if, indeed, that is the final result.
Do You Still Love Each Other?
If you no longer love each other, it is more humane to seek a divorce, so that you can both move on, rebuilding your lives and finding happiness, albeit separately. But don’t mistake temporary anger about an act or circumstance for a permanent change in your deep feelings that led your commitment to marriage in the first place. If the love is still there, and you invest some time and effort in mending or fortifying your relationship, it can pay off and spare you both the heartache and the regret that a divorce can leave behind.
I have seen far too many people remarry the same person they divorced.
Identify Your Needs
What do you each need to be happy in a marriage relationship? Can you provide it to each other?
Have you read The Five Love Languages? This is just one of the amazing resources out there to help you understand what makes you and your significant other happy. Just remember that your needs may change over time.
You may not be happy right now, especially if you’re in the middle of a disagreement with your partner that is overwhelming your emotions, but your marriage can improve if both of you are willing and able to work on it. Understanding your own needs and being willing to communicate them to your spouse is the first step. Ask for the same from him or her. And then commit to a joint action plan.
I have had clients come to me for their divorce, only to unexpectedly emerge from the planning meetings of their collaborative divorce recommitted to continuing their relationship. . . together. It was like watching a butterfly struggle out of its chrysalis! Terrifically exhilarating!
Would You Be Happier Alone?
You deserve happiness. We all do. Have the two of you grown so far apart that your romance is irretrievable? Is your significant other no longer the person you married? People change and their needs change. If you don’t recognize this and respect it, you are not doing anyone any favors by staying in a relationship that just creates misery for everyone.
Especially if you (and your partner) can find the right person elsewhere.
Are You Willing To Change?
Do you contribute to the strife between you and your spouse? If so, how? Can you change that? Have you tried?
Pay attention to how your words and actions affect your relationship and your interactions. Try a new approach.
Do most people find your partner’s bad habits offensive or are they just your personal pet peeves? Are these new behaviors? If not, why did they not bother you before? If so, how did they develop? Does your spouse know how much they vex you? Can these thoughtless habits be corrected or is your spouse purposely hurting you?
If the latter, perhaps your significant other is trying to tell you that the relationship is over and just doesn’t know how. Have that discussion.
Will You Regret Not Giving Your Relationship One More Try?
Are you afraid that, if you leave, you will regret it later? If you are worried that you will be sorry you divorced, give your relationship one last chance.
If you’ve decided to end the negative narrative loop and build a new life, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Open Palm Law. We are committed to helping your family heal and reach resolutions, regardless of the result you intend or which process you choose to get you there.
Learn more about collaborative divorce. Follow Open Palm Law.
Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, two of which she served as a professor of law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen Award, an honor bestowed in the United States Supreme Court upon those who have provided exceptional leadership in the American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.