Even facing that question, “should I get a divorce,” is agonizing. Most of us don’t want to be divorced. We try everything we can think of NOT to have to answer that life-changing question, “Should I leave my husband?”
I never dreamed that I would be a divorced woman after 33 years of marriage, a great life, four amazing children and more blessings than I could count. I never imagined that I would ever be thinking about that awful detail … when to leave my marriage.
In fact, even after I discovered my husband’s affair, I thought we could work it out and make our marriage stronger than ever. Making a decision to leave your marriage is a no- turning-back decision that is terrifying and heartbreaking.
But with each day of the next three years, I got closer and closer to the reality that I was going to have to decide if I should divorce the man I had promised to love, honor and cherish ‘til the day I died.
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try or how much we pray, we realize that we can’t be the person we were created to be and stay in our marriage … that it’s time to divorce … a devastating and unexpected place to be.
For long years of hoping and praying our husband would give up his girlfriend, or his drinking, or gambling or porn or whatever, in the back of our mind we keep asking ourselves “Is it time to get a divorce?”
When all hope is gone, and we realize our marriage can’t be fixed, the “Should I get a divorce?” question can no longer be ignored.
Reasons You Should Get A Divorce
When I was forced into making a decision I never dreamed I would have to make … about whether I should divorce, I read everything I could get my hands on. I found resources on “Reasons to Get a Divorce” and “When to know you need to divorce” and “How to Know Your Marriage Can’t Be Saved.”
I found one list of “Three Reasons To Leave Your Marriage.”
I discovered that list early on, but after helping women through midlife divorce for almost 20 years, I discovered that these three categories of marriage problems often lead to deciding whether or not to leave your husband.
The most concrete reason for divorce is abuse. If you are in any kind of abusive, unsafe situation, get help! Recognize that you may need to consider divorce for your personal safety.
There are all kinds of abuse: physical, verbal, emotional, financial, social, etc. Most abuse is hard to describe and hard for those around you to understand. Often abusers only are abusers in private. They are often charming in social situations, and only become abusive to their target … you.
And then they deny the abuse. You start doubting yourself, and that’s destructive to you as a person. If you have children, it’s confusing and hurtful to your children as well.
If physical abuse is part of your experience, get to a place of safety! Abusers often escalate their abuse the longer you stay. Your safety is the top priority.
Domestic Violence Hotline (Available 24/7): www.thehotline.org or 1-800-799-7233.
National Abuse Hotline: www.crisistextline.org
Addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, pornography, work, working out, etc … all can have serious negative affects on a marriage. Addiction is a very common reason to come to the decision to get a divorce.
Addiction is a complicated problem. Addiction to anything prevents marriages from flourishing, and it often makes staying together an exhausting, destructive trip to nowhere good. In spite of our best efforts, if our partner puts any addiction above the good of our family, divorce may be the only solution. We cannot solve an addict’s problems no matter how hard we try. We have to stop trying to fix him and make good choices for ourselves.
Here is a hotline for spouses of addicted people: https://al-anon.org.
He’s Committing Adultery – (Infidelity/Cheating)
Most of the questionnaires we receive are from women who need divorce recovery help because their husband has a girlfriend, or has cheated repeatedly.
Continued physical infidelity is usually the last straw that makes women say to themselves, “I refuse to be in a threesome!” and finally make the decision to file for divorce.
But there are many other ways to be unfaithful that make women decide to divorce as well:
- Emotional infidelity
- Financial infidelity
- Lack of commitment
- Lack of communication
- Lack of care for your heart
- Overly controlling
All are damaging to you, and you finalize realize you don’t want to live in this toxic marriage any longer. You have to ask yourself, “When is it time to get a divorce?”
Your Husband Changes
When your husband changes suddenly or whether it was a long, lonely slide into destructive change, sometimes those changes force us have to seriously think about whether the marriage is worth saving or is it time to answer the question: “Should I divorce my husband?”
We all change as we age. We all know about menopause. But some men seem to have that infamous “Midlife Crisis” that makes them change dramatically. They are willing to throw away everything we have built together for a promise of holding on to their youth by finding a “younger, more playful, more in-shape” girlfriend (as one of my recent site visitors explained). And they go down this destructive path regardless of the despair and devastation they leave in their wake.
Suddenly, each of us is forced to decide that enough is enough and choose to file for divorce.
Staying Together For The Kids
Most normal, good mothers often make decisions based on what is best for those we love. Sometimes we endure awful things to keep our family together. We think, “Divorce is not an option for me, because it would destroy our children.”
Kids (of all ages) are very perceptive. Some babies cry when they see their mother cry.
As much as we try to protect our children, they usually know what’s going on, and it is hard for them to see us abused in any way. My own daughter said to me, “Mom! Stop! This is embarrassing! What more do you need to see?”
And at some point, when our marriage is defined by adultery, abuse, addiction or other dysfunctions, our decision to file for divorce is what our children need more than seeing us suffer in silence in hopes of protecting them.
My son, Grady, created a powerful program called Parenting Through Divorce to help parents (and mothers in particular) understand more clearly what kids are thinking and wishing their parents understood when we have decided to divorce.
Trying To Fix The Marriage Was Unsuccessful
Most women do everything they can to fix their marriage before they think about, “Is it time to divorce?” They wonder, “How long can I endure this before I figure out “When should I get a divorce?” Both agonizing questions.
I couldn’t believe that we couldn’t fix our relationship. I wanted desperately to save our marriage. He said he did too, but his words did not match up to his actions during three years of lying and deception and continuing to see his mistress. I was dumbfounded that he could throw away a good 30+ year marriage for someone who had left her husband and was waiting for him to divorce me.
I finally decided, I could not have the good, joyful life I wanted and stay in an abusive situation like that, and I made that heartbreaking decision that I needed to file for divorce.
When Is It Time To Get A Divorce?
Deciding when to actually divorce depends on a lot of things. What’s going on in your family? Kids graduating from high school and going off to college? Children getting married? Parents sick and needing us more?
One college freshman advisor said “Do not surprise children with your divorce when they have just left home for college. He said that is devastating when a child is just adjusting to college, and they get a phone call about your divorce.
Be sensitive to others in your family about how your divorce is going to affect them. If possible try not to divorce around important family dates …. birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, other special family dates.
All of these things go into that decision about “When to get a divorce?”
There’s Never A “Good” Time
In deciding when to actually file for divorce, just know in your head that it’s going to be a messy, overwhelming, exhausting trip. Get as physically strong as you can before you divorce. It’s an emotional trip that is hard on us physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially and in about every other way!
Emotions are intense and erratic. Sleep is elusive. It’s lonely. It’s ugly. But sometimes it is necessary and when to start the process of divorce is important to consider.
Before you decide to divorce, meet with an attorney and a financial person if possible. There are actually certified divorce financial analysts. If you have the resources, they can guide you to making the best financial decisions about when to divorce your husband.
Often, many of us don’t have that option. At least go to a women’s center, or see if there is a financial person in your church who could give you an opinion. But be very, very careful, because your future depends on it.
Do not sign any papers or agree to a financial settlement that you have not at least let someone else look at. It’s usually best to have any payments due you to be made through the court. Promises by your husband to “always take care of you,” usually fall by the wayside when the divorce is done, especially if there is a new woman in the picture.
Your Relationship Is Irreparable
[Discuss how it’s important to try and work on relationships, because none of them are easy (unless there are instant deal-breakers like cheating or abuse.)]
Relationships are not easy. We all make mistakes. I always encourage everyone to try first to figure out what the problems are in your marriage and then do everything you can to fix those problems to the benefit of both of you.
But, because of some of the issues mentioned above, not every marriage can be, or should be, saved. Any relationship that is unsafe or destroys your self confidence or undermines the person you are, should not continue.
If you think it may be time for you to divorce, set up a time to talk with me.