Are you considering divorce? There's a lot to think about first. It's a serious decision with lasting consequences, so it's important to really think things through before making the final decision. In order to arrive at finality and feel good about it, there are some questions to ask yourself. Make sure you go over them yourself or even with your spouse so both of you can express your feelings in a healthy, safe, and structured way.
Read on for six things to consider before filing for divorce.
Is Your Marriage Really Over?
Have your feelings actually diminished or are you just feeling powerless over a problem in the marriage and due to it are experiencing a lack of emotional closeness? If there are still feelings of love and affection, then you should consider working on the relationship before deciding on divorce. You don't want to get caught up in the divorce process and then later realize you’ve made a mistake. If there is any love left, consider trying couples therapy. "Attending a workshop, or a therapy or coaching session with your spouse when things start to go off the rails can determine the difference between making it or not," says therapist Susan Pease Gadoua.
Are You Just Making Empty Threats?
When people are frustrated or angry, they can resort to extreme actions to get what they want, but don't make this mistake with a threat of divorce. It's legal action after all, which means the implications are broader and more harmful than might be intended. "Such decisions are not made lightly or impulsively. I have found that it is not unusual that the "initiator" has been ruminating about divorce for years," says Sam Margulies, Ph.D.
Start with couple's therapy if you're looking to improve your marriage. If no compromise can be made or if the differences between you outweigh your commonalities, a legal split may be warranted.
What Is Your Real Motivation To Divorce?
Are you hoping that a divorce will mean your spouse will start treating you better? Maybe they will realize what they've lost and will make the changes you need them to make. If that's the case, you're divorcing for the wrong reasons. Divorce will promote conflict, not resolve it.
If you want a change in the dynamics between you and your spouse, a divorce isn't the way to get it. Something to think about to help you come to your decision is that once you have divorced, your spouse is free to form emotional attachments to others. If that thought is uncomfortable to you, think twice before making a decision.
Are You Making an Emotional Decision?
Arguments shake up everyone involved. When this is the 10th+ dispute with your spouse, the bad after feelings will probably sit with you for some time. But don't make any rash decisions when emotions are high. You may be forgetting about all the good in your history together, which clouds your judgment.
What About the Negative Consequences of Divorce?
Divorce can mean a loss of dreams and goals. Think about the future and what lasting impacts giving up your marriage could have. Though you may hope to move on and find love again, make sure you're comfortable with the fact that you may not, or that you might at least be alone for a while. "Divorce is about change. There is often change in housing. There are economic changes, none of which are comfortable. There is change in social status and in the way the children's lives are managed," Margulies says.
Before making the decision, also make sure you have a support system in place to help you deal with the stress. If the two of you have children, know that you'll need to be able to handle their pain and be there to help them cope.
How Will You Act After Divorce?
Your attitude will determine what kind of life you'll have after the divorce. Will you be strong, take responsibility, and let go of any anger and resentment? Or will you remain bitter, resentful, and feel like a victim? The attitude you choose to live with will determine not only the kind of divorce you have but the quality of life you have after your divorce.