Marriage and divorce share one thing in common – they are major life-changing events. Both need to be thought out carefully. When two people choose to get married, they plan on spending their entire lives together. Now you are wondering if your ‘forever’ expiration date has come early. Deciding whether it is time to end your marriage or not can be extremely difficult. Some days you may feel confident you can make your relationship work. Other days, you may feel that it is time to confront your spouse and break the news to them that you want a divorce. Yet how can you be so sure?
Let us start by saying that there is no set way of knowing whether or not it is time for you and your spouse to get a divorce. Every relationship is different, and everyone’s divorce is different. There is not a book you can read or a class you can take that can decide for you. However, there are questions you can ask yourself to help you along in the decision-making process.
These are 8 questions you should ask yourself before you decide to get a divorce.
1. Do you still have feelings for your spouse?
When people are struggling with the decision to leave their partner, they still have strong feelings towards them. Regardless of any issues in the relationship, you were both at one point in love with one another. Those feelings do not just disappear overnight. Before you decide to file for divorce, it may be best that you work on your relationship with your spouse. Whether it be sitting down with your spouse and explaining how you feel or attending couple’s therapy to mend your relationship.
If you have already tried working on your relationship and still see no resolution in sight, it may be time to move forward with a separation or divorce.
2. Were you and your partner actually married?
Having a marriage certificate shows you were legally married, but are you and your spouse truly married to one another? Was your relationship about the ‘we’ or ‘us’ or was it about two individuals meeting their own needs? If you and your spouse make decisions based on what is good for yourselves rather than what is best for both of you, it may be time to get divorced.
3. Is divorce just an empty threat?
For many couples in struggling relationships, the threat of divorce may often arise in the heat of an argument. But is this a real threat? Or is it a way for you or your spouse to gain leverage in the relationship? The threat of divorce can also be a wake-up call as well as an indication that the marriage is failing. If you use divorce as a threat against your spouse, it could also be an indicator that you feel like you are not being heard in the relationship and you want to be taken seriously.
4. Is this an emotionally based decision?
When it comes time to talk to your spouse about getting a divorce, it needs to be a clear and unemotional decision. You have given your decision a lot of thought and you truly know deep down that it is time to call it off. Decisions made by your emotions do not last forever and rarely solve the real issues at hand. When you divorce someone out of anger, that anger will linger even after your divorce is final. To be ready for divorce, you need to have your emotions towards your spouse under control. Otherwise, the divorce process will be extremely emotional.
5. Why do you want a divorce?
If your reasoning is anything other than ‘I want my marriage to end’ then you are not ready for a divorce. Any sort of agenda or revenge is not a reason to get a divorce. If you believe that filing for a divorce will in some way change how your spouse sees you or treats you, then you are getting divorced for the wrong reason. The only thing a divorce can do is end a marriage – so that is what your sole intention should be when getting one.
6. Have you confronted your internal conflict?
Anyone that goes through a divorce goes through some level of internal conflict. You may feel guilty about your decision to get divorced, but also feel completely sure of yourself at the same time. You may feel betrayed but also know that once the divorce is over, your life will change for the better. Understanding and recognizing your internal conflict will help ease the divorce process for you. Doing this beforehand will help you prepare for your divorce and allow you to confront your feelings. The more you ignore the internal conflict you are experiencing, the more impossible it will be for you to decide about your divorce.
7. Have you evaluated the pros and cons of getting divorced?
People experience divorce the same way they experience the loss of a family member or friend. Falling out of love hurts. To prepare yourself for the emotional rollercoaster that is to come, it is important to have a group of people you can trust to support you. Whether it is family, close friends, or even a therapist or counsellor. There is a lot of pain inherent to divorce. You need to consider how you will your children from the pain of your divorce..
You will also need to evaluate the changes that are to come. Everything changes after divorce. From your finances to your living situation to the times of insecurity, you need to be prepared for what is to come. If you do not want to face those changes, then you are not ready for divorce.
8. Are you ready to take control of your life in a mature way?
The way you handle your divorce will determine what your divorce and future will look like. If you respond from a place of anger, bitterness, and revenge, you can expect your divorce to reflect those feelings. If you go into your divorce emotionally sound and ready to make things work, things will move much smoother. The attitude you choose to approach your divorce with will determine the type of person you will come through the other side as.
If you cannot imagine growing old with your spouse, sitting together on the front porch in your rocking chairs, then perhaps it is time to get a divorce. Life is too short to spend it with someone you don’t love.
When you are ready, we are here for you.
Once you have (carefully) evaluated your relationship and decide that it is time to get a divorce, we can help you at Galbraith Family Law. Our team of experienced divorce lawyers will work with you each step of the way and help you find the best resolution to your situation. We have the right skills and resources to provide you with reasonable advice and a lasting legal solution. To work with one of our professional divorce lawyers, give us a call at one of our five locations across Ontario. For our Toronto offices call 647-370-8965, for our Newmarket office call 289-210-4692 or you can reach us at our Barrie office at 705-230-2734. When you are ready, we are here for you.