A frequent question I hear is, “Should I divorce?” How do you know when your marriage is over? It’s a difficult question and one no one can answer for you. For one couple, a cheating spouse may be the final reason. For another couple, cheating may be worked through, but the in-laws may be the reason for divorce. I usually advise couples to wait and put every ounce of energy they can into salvaging the marriage. I also ask them to think about issues: How will your children fare? How will your friends respond and will they take sides? What about the in-laws? Will you still be able to see them and how will they deal with the divorce? Are you really prepared for the dating scene? How will you feel when you are all alone? Can you make it financially on your own? What has this spouse done that you ultimately cannot forgive? Until you are clear with these issues, you may want to postpone a divorce. Divorce means the final end, and it is not a decision to be made recklessly.
Divorce is commonplace now, but it isn’t easy. Many times when something becomes common, we devalue it or make light of it. Anyone who has gone through divorce has suffered the sleepless nights, the gut-wrenching feeling that comes with signing legal papers, and the stress of watching their kids try to adapt to their new lifestyle. There are flags that wave when a divorce is highly likely. You may note a few of these in your marriage right now. If you respond with “yes” to only one or two, the marriage is salvageable. However, the more you respond “yes” to, the harder it will be to salvage the marriage.
1. Has it become impossible to talk to your spouse without it turning into a full blown argument?
2. Does your spouse curse you in front of your children? If your spouse continues to the point of upsetting the children, I would leave tonight (with your children).
3. Does your spouse threaten you? This is a flag you should never ignore, call the police and get out.
4. Does your spouse refuse to help with chores, child care, or financial obligations?
5. Does your spouse have friends of the opposite sex that they demand they see even when you explain it makes you feel insecure or threatened?
6. Does your spouse abuse drugs, alcohol, and/or money in an addictive manner without trying to get help? This problem can jeopardize your life, as well as your children’s.
7. Does your spouse use discipline in a hurtful, abusive way with your children? We all read the story about the dad who punished his child with punches. This should never be tolerated.
8. Does your spouse respect you? Do they talk down to you or make you feel inferior?
9. Does your spouse belittle your career and make fun of you?
10. Does your spouse resist personal growth? Do they want you to stay the same, even though you are a living, ever-changing being? This is symbolic of a controlling person; they are also usually very insecure.
11. Does your spouse no longer desire you sexually? Do they resist by pointing out your faults? Do they compare you to other people they find desirable?
12. Has your partner changed ethically or morally in a way that is not as loving and giving? It is worthwhile to check with your spouse if this happens. It could be sign of depression. Depression is treatable; you don’t have to divorce something you can treat.
13. Does your spouse avoid any opportunity to bring harmony or joy to the family?
14. Has your spouse been unhappy for so long that they have already given up on the marriage?
15. Has your spouse told you they don’t love you anymore, but are staying for the children’s sake? Children are happy if parents are happy. If you are unhappy in your marriage, your children know it. When they are small, they will act marital issues out. When they get bigger, they will take the pain of their parents’ marriage and act it out in destructive ways, such as drinking, body piercing, obesity, and sexual promiscuity. If you think you are hiding a bad marriage from your kids, you are deluding yourself.
A divorce is often seven years plus or minus two in the making. If your marriage is in trouble take every measure possible to salvage it. If many of these 15 flags are waving, you would be wise to consider letting it go. It sounds broken.