“The only real battle in life is between hanging on and letting go.”
― Shannon L. Alder
Although most people enter into marriage with joy and anticipation, for some there comes a time when the negatives of the relationship seem to outweigh the positives. If you find yourself in this situation, how do you decide whether it is time to initiate a divorce?
Your decision likely has financial, emotional, social and even safety ramifications. The well-being of others besides yourself is involved – most importantly the well-being of your children. If you are dealing with this complex set of issues and priorities, here are some things you may want to consider:
Finances: With regard to the financial implications of getting divorced, ask yourself whether the passage of time is helping you or hurting you. Some clear examples of situations where it likely is hurting you include a spouse who is spending down the family assets with no accountability or a spouse who has terminated employment and seems disinclined to pursue a new job. By contrast, if your spouse is about to receive the benefit of acquiring a significant marital asset (i.e., the vesting of stock options or the closing of a business deal) or is about to receive a big bump in income then it may be to your advantage to pause.
Children: If one of your children is experiencing a temporary crisis, such as an illness or a run-in with the law, adding parental separation to the child’s emotional load is unlikely to be helpful. But studies show that children are damaged by parental conflict, and most children have the resilience to adapt to the separation of their parents and to living in two homes. Although your children are unlikely to tell you that they welcome the change, reducing the amount of conflict and stress in their world will probably be a plus.
Abusive Relationships: If your spouse is emotionally or physically abusive to you and you have been in the relationship for any significant period of time, then the research tells us you are enmeshed in a dynamic which is difficult to break. You likely stay because you are afraid of the unknown. You probably also have an entirely-justified fear of your spouse’s anger if you indicate you are planning to leave. But the research tells us that abusive situations never get better – they only get worse. This must be a key factor in your decision-making.
Your Own Health: Staying in a bad marriage can be harmful to your health in many ways, from high blood pressure to depression to a damaged self-image. If you find it difficult to value your own well-being, then it will be hard for you to acknowledge the price you are paying for staying in the marriage. But if you are able to see that you deserve better then you may be empowered to develop a plan to leave the marriage.
The above broad categories of considerations can cut both ways as you struggle with the decision to stay in or leave your marriage. Every situation is different. It is your life and you need to make the decision that is right for you and your family. Get help in doing so both from an experienced family law attorney and from a reputable therapist.