What is the state of your marriage? When the health of a relationship starts to decline, we don’t always know if it can be resuscitated. We don’t always know what the next step should be, whether it should be a date night to rekindle the old spark, or couple’s therapy to work through issues, or separation or divorce if the marriage is no longer working. Here are some questions to help you determine what stage your relationship is at.
1. How would you feel if things stayed the same for another year? Two years? A decade?
This question can help you determine how unhealthy your current situation is. The Huffington Post suggests, “Imagine yourself five years from now. Is getting a divorce a decision you’ll regret? Or will there be relief that you are breaking a pattern of misery that’s gone on too long?”
Thinking about how you would feel if things continued as they are will help you determine the degree of change you need to feel good about your family life again, whether you need counselling, some time apart, or to end the relationship.
2. How long have you been feeling this way?
You may be going through a mere rough patch, or it may be time to call it quits. Figuring out how long you’ve felt dissatisfied with your relationship can help you determine if the marriage is broken or not. A recent turn for the worse may indicate only a temporary problem rather than a long-term issue. A long-term issue doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship is doomed either, though it may require a more in-depth approach to solving.
3. Are you prepared for the changes that would come with divorce?
Address some practical concerns regarding your financial and living situations. Staying because you can’t afford to leave isn’t healthy. Consider your situation and what you would need to do to be secure.
Asking this question can also help you remember the things you LIKE about your situation. If there are lots of things about your spouse that you would miss, then working on your relationship would be worthwhile.
Furthermore, as the Huffington Post points out, “It’s extremely rare to rebuild a healthy marriage after a person tells his or her spouse that the marriage is over.” For this reason, you want to be really sure before suggesting divorce. If knowing that you won’t be able to take it back doesn’t faze you, then that will tell you a lot about your resolve as well.
4. Do you both still want to try?
Regardless of the specific marital issues involved, the willingness of both partners to make an effort will have a huge effect on whether any reconciliation is possible. As Psychology Today notes, “the real culprit in marriage isn’t the particular problems people bring to therapists, it’s when one or both spouses become hopeless. Hopelessness is real cancer in marriage.” Similarly, Woman’s Day points out that issues can have two sides: “it’s important to be able to look at how his behaviors, moods or choices may be impacted by your behaviours or moods or choices” and “Couples that think of themselves as a team are much more likely to stay together.”
Ultimately, if either of you is truly finished with a relationship and won’t try to fix things, then plodding along and keeping up appearances won’t do any good. It bears mentioning that if you’re in an abusive situation, then you shouldn’t feel guilty for not wanting to make the effort; your safety is paramount. However, if you both want to make a sincere attempt at rebuilding the marriage, then you may well have a chance at making things right.
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If you need to proceed with a divorce, we’re here to help you make decisions that will benefit you in the long run.
Galbraith Family Law is a certified Collaborative Practice and has been named the top firm in Barrie multiple times. Our legal insights have also been featured in the Globe and Mail, as well as Lawyers Weekly.
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