Should I Get A Divorce? 8 Questions To Ask Before Ending Your Marriage
If you and your partner are thinking about ending your marriage, it can be difficult to know whether you're making the right decision or not. There are some questions to ask before getting a divorce so that you can be sure that you're aware of all of your options, according to experts.
First of all, it's important to look at the big picture of what's gotten you to the point that you're thinking about separating. "Sometimes people end a relationship, start another, only to find the same issues in the next relationship," Dr. Annie Hsueh, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist in Southern California specializing in couples therapy, tells Bustle. "There are people that find, no matter what relationship they are in, the same issues repeat themselves," she says. "It is possible that divorce will not solve all of your concerns." Ask yourself whether the major problem in your marriage is one that you've struggled with in the past. If it's a pattern that you recognize, it might can be addressed through couples or individual therapy.
Of course, if you're in danger, it probably isn't a good idea to try to postpone the divorce. But if you're safe and able to really consider whether ending your marriage is the best option, doing some more thinking and brainstorming might be helpful.
Here's what to ask yourself and your partner before getting a divorce, according to experts.
1. Is There Any Way To Avoid This?
If you're in a rough patch with your partner, ending your marriage might seem like the perfect solution to your problems. But before making such an important decision, it's important to consider whether you've exhausted all of your available options for reaching an agreement. "Before getting divorced, you should ask yourself if you are 100% certain that you want a divorce," Kari H. Lichtenstein, a divorce attorney and founding partner at Stutman, Stutman & Lichtenstein, tells Bustle. "Divorce is not an easy process and before heading down that road, ask yourself if there is any way to work on the issues of the marriage," she says.
2. Am I Financially Prepared?
Getting married can be very expensive, but getting a divorce is also a costly process, so it's important to make sure that you're ready to handle all associated costs. "You should also ask yourself if you are prepared to go through a potentially very difficult divorce process that can not only be emotionally trying and stressful, but can also be very expensive," Lichtenstein says. "You should assess whether or not you are financially prepared for a divorce and what the financial outcome will be of a divorce," she says. "If it is to plan for a divorce, you should have your finances in line and be as fully knowledgeable about the family finances as possible." Before even starting the process, gather all of your financial documents so that you're thoroughly prepared.
3. Do I Know How To Get A Divorce?
If you've never personally been through a divorce, you probably don't realize all that the process entails. So, before getting started, ask yourself whether you understand what, exactly, will happen. Consult with someone who is experienced in family law and has a background in litigation and alternative forms of dispute resolution, Melissa Fecak, Esq., a mediator and divorce lawyer with South Jersey Divorce Solutions, tells Bustle. "By speaking to someone about 'how' to divorce (or separate) and the process, they can have an informed discussion as to their options and work towards a decision that will be best for their family," she says. If you and your partner aren't ready to talk to an attorney, check in with a divorce coach, who can make sure that you're prepared for what might be to come.
4. What Are My Goals?
"An individual who is looking to move out of a relationship should think hard about what are their goals and interests post the divorce or termination of the relationship," Fecak says. "As a lawyer, I often have clients come in who think they want a divorce but have no thoughts about where they want to live after the divorce, have not considered what the parenting time would look like or how the family's expenses will be paid when there are two separate households." Before you take the leap, ask yourself and your partner how you plan on living your lives after the separation, so that if you do decide to go down that road, you'll have strategies for reaching the goals you want.
5. Are Our Issues More About Growth I Need?
If you and your partner are having significant problems in your relationship, it could be that both of you need to spend time on personal growth in order to solve things. But take a breath and ask yourself whether working on yourself could actually address those conflicts. "Oftentimes people want their partner to soothe the emotional wounds of our past and that's not their job," Lisa Concepcion, a certified love life coach who specializes in divorce prevention, tells Bustle. "So, when considering divorce, are you accusing the other person for not giving you what you need to be giving yourself?"
6. What Would Our Ideal Relationship Look Like?
If you're taking the time to consider getting a divorce, it's also worth putting some serious thought into what you and your partner each wish your relationship could be. There are many reasons why you might be looking to separate, but a very common one is not communicating with your spouse anymore. "This question allows both people to get clear on what they want out of their marriage," Concepcion says. "They are able to explore what they need and want individually and as a couple." Talking through this question can actually spark the two of you to create a "new marriage" for yourselves, so to speak.
7. Why Are We Having Problems?
While it can be easy to point out all of the issues that you and your partner are having in your marriage, a question that isn't so obvious is "Why are we having problems?" But asking yourselves this simple question can make a huge difference. "When we ask ourselves (and our partner) why are we suffering, we go deeper and usually draw out the real reasons we're suffering instead of thriving," Concepcion says. "When we ask ourselves why we suffer we take responsibility for how we feel. Actually taking the time to point out what is causing your fights can give you a starting point for addressing the problems in your marriage.
8. What Are All Of The Possible Solutions?
You and your partner might decide that divorce is the best option for you, but before embarking on that lengthy process, it's definitely worth discussing any last efforts you can try to reach a compromise that works for you both. "Get creative and brainstorm all the positive solutions you can try," Hsueh says. "Maybe even implement a new solution for a period of time." If you're having trouble coming up with ideas, think back to everything you have already tried to make your marriage stronger. If anything in the past worked even a little bit, see if there's a way to tweak that and incorporate it again.
After a good deal of reflection, you may decide that divorce really is what's best for you and your partner. But you'll at least know that you've exhausted all of your options.