Marriages involve many challenges and rewards. While the balance can change daily, the benefits should outweigh the shortfalls. So, it is healthy to do a check-in every once in a while to make sure that your marriage remains in the plus column.
Seven questions to ask
Perhaps one or both spouses are not sure it is working, or maybe it is a matter where the marriage works, but the spark seems to be gone. Here are some typical questions that therapists ask patients to consider when evaluating the ongoing vitality of the marriage and whether divorce is the answer:
- Do you still have feelings for them? It may be a matter of a long slow decline, or the relationship is damaged beyond repair.
- Was it ever really a marriage? Not every relationship between two adults meets the definition of marriage or was a marriage in name only. Critical factors in a loving partnership include happiness, support, commitment to each other, growing together, being a team that is more than the sum of its parts.
- Is there a willingness to go through with the divorce? Every couple has disagreements and can become angry or frustrated. While the continued threat to leave is never a good sign, the one threatening to leave should consider whether they are willing to go through with it. Or, is it an unhealthy way to communicate about other troubling issues with the marriage?
- Is this about you or your angry reaction to them? Those who divorce out of spite or anger seldom find the solace they are looking for unless they address the underlying issues that cause the strong reactions. Real change for the better starts from within yourself.
- Why do you want a divorce? Any answer that does not involve terminating the marriage should cause a partner to reevaluate. Divorce ends a partnership. It does not right wrongs, change minds or provide a victory.
- Can you adjust to the consequences? Some may have dedicated their whole life to creating a “happy family.” Living with the failure can be hard, particularly if children, spouses, other family members, or friends disagree with the divorce. Or, perhaps a lower standard of living, discomfort with the unknown, or other unique factors are insurmountable challenges.
- Are you willing to take control of your life maturely and responsibly? The marriage is ending, and now comes the time to regain control of your life. How spouses address the challenge dictates how the divorce will work and your ability to move on to realize that potential that went unrealized during the marriage.
Your answers can offer a roadmap for the future
The marriage may not work, but answers to these questions can help spouses understand why the marriage is not working and how to move on. There are a lot of details to address, including custody and parenting plans, division of assets, and other arrangements, so understanding your individual needs and those of the family can put the process in a more positive light.