Nobody plans to divorce, and ending a marriage is not something that should be done frivolously or for the wrong reasons. If there are children in the marriage, both partners need to consider the effect divorce will have on the rest of the family. In most cases, however, children benefit more from having two happy, fulfilled role models than from living with bitterness, repression, and fighting for the sake of unity. Below are a few guidelines to help you determine if it’s time to call it quits.
Are You Who You Want To Be?
One of the tests of whether it’s time to let the marriage end is to ask yourself the following questions:
• Are you getting what you want out of life?
• Do you like the person you are becoming or will become if you stay with your spouse?
• Have you had to give up activities or relationships that matter deeply to you because of your marriage?
If you are in danger of losing yourself, this is not a partnership that is working as an equal give-and-take. Your needs are not being met, and your potential is not being fulfilled. If you aren’t willing to break up the marriage because you don’t believe your needs matter, it’s time to reassess priorities.
Partnership involves compromise, but if you find that your needs for companionship, sex, entertainment, growth, recreation, a social life, career, or spirituality are consistently not being met because of your marriage, then you are likely married to the wrong person. One of you isn’t right or wrong; you’re simply incompatible in that area. The definition of a sexless marriage, for example, has nothing to do with the frequency of marital relations and everything to do with the ratio of each partner’s expectations. Babies, careers, and other daily stresses can reduce a couple’s desire and even opportunities to make love; however, if the opportunity is there but at least one partner is completely uninterested, this is an indicator of either ill-matched libidos or another, more serious problem.
If your physical safety or emotional health is in jeopardy, you need to get out now. No one deserves to live with abuse and fear. The other issues mentioned here will involve some deep soul searching, but abuse should be an instant deal breaker.
Are You Playing a Waiting Game?
Maybe you are thinking that when you get some counseling, or when your spouse gets help for his or her addiction or abusive behavior, or when your spouse ends his or her extramarital affair, then everything in your marriage will work. But chances are that it won’t. If your spouse is not willing to address these problems right now, it’s not going to happen and you may wait decades and cheat yourself out of a healthy, mutually fulfilling relationship. You may think it’s too late to meet someone new, but even if this is true (and it isn’t), it’s never too late to live in peace with yourself, to wake up every morning happy and comfortable with who you are.
Are You Becoming Complacent Enemies?
Are you spending every moment with your partner either fighting or walking on eggshells to avoid a fight? If you feel like you have lost the art of working through problems or disagreements together or lack the energy to even try, you’re probably ready to end your relationship. If you can’t remember the last time you had an enjoyable conversation or felt any kind of respect or admiration for your spouse, it’s time to leave.
Probably the most important thing to remember when you are unhappy with your marriage is that you can only control the behavior of one person, and that is you. If your spouse is unable or unwilling to put in the effort required to have a successful, happy marriage, there is nothing you can do to change that. At that point, you need to make the hard decision of what is more important: the appearance of a solid partnership or the reality of a joyful, meaningful life. Don’t think of it as giving up; you don’t give up on a house that’s in flames. You get out of it as quickly as possible to protect the health and well-being of you and your family.