Guest Author - Caren Green
Every marriage has its ups and downs, and the question about whether to throw in the towel has an answer that is unique to each couple in their own circumstances. Perhaps the decision has been made for you by your spouse, or perhaps you feel unfulfilled and want to know if there is still hope for your marriage or whether you should give it up. By the time this question arises, there is usually frustration, disappointment and a lack of trust influencing the situation.
Before you make your decision, here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself:
1) Do you believe that you and your spouse are generally compatible?
2) Do you share similar life goals?
3) Do you have children and/or pets that are counting on the stability of your relationship, and if so, how will you handle those situations?
4) Have you tried (or are you both open to) counseling?
5) Are you generally happy with your spouse, but unhappy with circumstances over the past few months?
6) Is your spouse verbally, physically, sexually or spiritually abusive?
7) Does your spouse have anger management issues?
8) Has there been infidelity in the marriage?
9) What is impossible for you to overlook or live with?
It may help to write the answers to these questions out in a journal. Writing can clarify your thoughts as well as give you something to reference when asking a counselor or friend for advice.
Frequently by the time that a person is disappointed enough to consider separation or divorce, her friends are already worried about her, and possibly hoping that she considers leaving someone that they see making her unhappy. This may mean that you feel less comfortable confiding in your close friends during this time, and may need to ask advice of an outside party such as a therapist, counselor or a new friend that is less familiar with your history in the marriage.
It isn't necessary to make your decision to divorce instantly; a period of separation is a logical step for couples who have tried counseling but are still unable to reach a compromise. It is also helpful for those who have an abusive relationship or issues such as infidelity. Separation allows an opportunity to experience a gradual transition, which eases the decision-making process. If you conclude after a period of time that your separation is a worse situation than your marriage, you may well want to pursue counseling or other means to a reconciliation. If, on the other hand, you learn that you are happier and healthier apart, it may be time for a divorce.
Finally, do not neglect your own gut instinct. You know yourself, your marriage, and your life better than anyone. If you do not believe that there is any way that you can be happy in your marriage, don't second guess or blame yourself. If you aren't ready to move on and your spouse is open to attempting to improve the marriage, keep trying. No matter which direction you take, every moment is a new opportunity for your life, and although this change may feel awful at first, it may turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you.