It can take quite some time to go from thinking about wanting a divorce to feeling ready to move forward with one. There are a few ways you can better understand if you are really ready for a divorce.
Are You Ready for a Divorce?
Once you've decided that a divorce may be the right decision for you, it's important to explore why and really dig into your incentive for moving forward with this difficult process. According to Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, a psychologist and social worker who has been nationally recognized for her work, "people often rush to divorce." Dr. Wish goes on to say, "The pain and confusion are so great that it's easy to fool yourself into thinking that if you just get divorced and get it over with that your problems will go away." But they usually don't. In other words, what you thought a divorce would solve may follow you into other relationships in your life unless you deeply understand what happened within your marriage and the role you played.
History of Abuse
If your partner has been abusive towards you and/or your children, moving forward with a divorce is a way to protect yourself and regain the safety that you lost within the relationship. It is not uncommon for those in abusive relationships to feel scared and anxious about leaving this type of relationship, as the fear of meeting someone more abusive, or being alone may trigger intense and uncomfortable feelings. Keep in mind that those who are abusive tend to escalate in terms of their unhealthy behavior, so seeking counseling or support as soon as possible can help you make this decision. They may also be abusing substances, which may only intensify their explosive behavior.
Dr. Wish notes that for some, "...major deal-breakers usually include domestic violence, abuse of children, [and] verbal abuse..." These terrifying and dangerous incidents may make your marriage feel beyond repair, especially if your partner is not willing to seek out appropriate treatment. "You love the person in between the bad times and hate [them] in the bad," says Dr. Wish. "The good times hook you in and make you minimize the bad times" which can make you feel as if you're stuck in the marriage.
Counseling Hasn't Been Helpful
If you and your partner have tried marriage counseling in an attempt to resolve recurring issues to no avail, you may be ready to think about moving forward with a divorce. Deep rooted issues that cannot be resolved for various reasons, or incredibly different life goals that you can't reconcile to make the marriage work, are reasons you may begin the divorce process.
Change in Sexual Preference
If you and/or your partner would like to be with someone else sexually, then trying to make it work may not be the best option for you. It can be nerve wracking to decide to be with a different partner, and it can be painful to find out about your partner wanting to be with someone else. Regardless of who is interested in a different partner, divorcing allows you to move on with a partner who wants to be intimate with you.
Desire to Divorce Is Independent From Stressful Life Events
Stressful life events like deaths, job loss, and difficult diagnoses can spark more arguments and tiffs between you and your spouse as a way to diffuse the stress you both are feeling. This may add extra tension to your marriage and bring up the desire to initiate a divorce. Be sure to think about whether you'd move forward with a divorce is the circumstances were different or your stress level decreased a bit. Your desire to divorce should be considered as independently as possible from other stressful life events. Keep in mind that the divorce process is not stress free so be sure you're completely certain of your choice before adding additional stress to your life.
Have Tried Multiple Solutions
If you and your partner have tried to make it work, but some issues have been glaring and you can't seem to come up with solutions, then a divorce may be on the horizon. Sometimes couples grow apart and evolve differently, which may create distance between you two. This can impact your connection and level of intimacy with one another, which are important factors in a healthy marriage.
Affairs Are Ongoing
If one or both of you are seeking emotional or physical connections elsewhere, which is one of the top reasons for a divorce, and are no longer feeling committed to each other, you will likely grow further and further apart. This can lead to unhappiness, anxiety, lack of trust, and feeling as if you're no longer satisfied with your marital life.
Communication Has Stopped
Communication is a crucial aspect of maintaining a healthy relationship. When communication has stopped, or the only communication you're experiencing is combative, you may begin contemplating a divorce. If one or both of you are not willing to work on improving your communication, chances are your relationship will continue deteriorating.
Partner No Longer Wants to Work on Relationship
If you or your partner have resigned to no longer work on your relationship, your level of intimacy, connection, and respect for each other may seriously decrease. Once you've decided that the relationship is no longer worth the effort and that you can't make it work, you may be ready to move forward with a divorce.
Fallen Out of Love
Relationships take a lot of hard work and effort to maintain. Dr. Wish notes that, "marriage is not necessarily a ticket to happiness." "The fantasy of love and marriage fade, and couples often bolt when the dream-world ends." Unlike when you have children, love between partners is not unconditional. This means that you both will need to work on maintaining the love between you. If one or both partners no longer is willing or able to make an effort to nurture your love, the relationship will likely continue declining and you may grow increasingly less happy.
Keep in mind that, "if you don't know why you got married and became unhappy, then you'll most likely bring too many unknowns into your next relationship." So, if you've decided to move on with a divorce, it's important to examine your past marital issues, take ownership of your role in the discord, and ensure that you don't fall into a similar role in your next relationship.
Decision Is Insight Based, Not Reactionary
If you've spent time processing going through a divorce and wholeheartedly feel like it is the healthiest decision for you, then you may be ready to move forward. Making a decision in this way is totally different than deciding to divorce as a reaction to a nasty fight or ongoing issue within the relationship. If you feel ready to make decisions during mediation that are healthy for both you and your ex partner, without any ounce of you wanting to punish them, then you are in the right headspace to move forward with the divorce.
The Difference Between Threatening Divorce versus Deciding to Divorce
Threatening to divorce may have come up in your marriage before. Think of it this way, whether you threatened divorce or your partner did, doing so is a way to incite a reaction, and is not a a healthy way to process your relationship together. Deciding to divorce means that you have thoroughly and rationally made this decision and are not attempting to punish your partner or make them feel bad.
Making the Best Decision for You
If you feel completely ready to move forward with your divorce, but aren't sure you want to proceed without extra support, "...counseling and mediation can... help couples construct friendly enough financial and child care decisions," says Dr. Wish. You can also use these support systems if you don't have children together, but aren't sure how to proceed without getting stuck in the details. Ultimately the decision is yours to make, just make sure you've considered every angle before beginning this challenging process.