Marriage is a tough challenge that takes a lot of commitment from both sides of the altar. And sometimes, for one reason or another, it just doesn’t work out. Maybe the two of you have grown apart, maybe you’re just tired of trying so hard with no reciprocation, but at some point, you know you’ve had enough. How do you recognize when that moment arrives? Is there a “right” time to call it quits? The answer varies for every couple, but the following 5 questions will help you evaluate the state of your own marriage.
1. Has either spouse committed an act of infidelity?
The occurrence of infidelity in a marriage relationship signals serious problems. It is a trial many couples have a very hard time recovering from. Sometimes it can be overcome if the cheated-on spouse is understanding and the two commit to spending more energy on their marriage. Counseling can help spouses communicate more openly and work through their differences. However, a time may come when it is apparent that the indiscretion cannot be overlooked. Researchers with the National Fatherhood Initiative reported that 55 percent of respondents to a survey conducted on reasons for divorce identified cheating as the ultimate reason they decided to split.
2. Does each partner make an effort to make the marriage work?
This is a tricky question to answer because your evaluation of what 100% effort is may differ from that of your spouse’s. Couples who want to stay together don’t constantly compare who contributes more to the marriage, who makes more money, who does more chores, etc. They put their full effort into making the marriage work without regard for small omissions on their spouse’s part. A time may come, though, when it is apparent that one or both no longer care if the marriage works out. Arguing will break out frequently and each will eventually become exhausted by the thought of continuing to be together. Approximately 44 percent of the people in the initiative’s survey said “they felt their marriage was unequal. . . . When one person feels an unfair amount of responsibility is placed on them in the marriage, the relationship could be in danger.”
3. Has the relationship become abusive?
The survey further reported that about 29 percent of divorces result because of domestic violence. It’s a complicated situation that makes divorce trickier than when the separation is necessitated by other reasons. Clinton Power, a relationship counselor and founder of Clinton Power & Associates told MSN, “The most important thing is to make sure that you’re safe before instigating any separation or divorce. Secondly, let people close to you in your life know of any possible dangers that may come from preparing or announcing a divorce.” It’s very important to hire an experienced divorce lawyer to help you navigate the complicated procedure of this type of divorce.
4. Are there children involved in your relationship?
If there are, it is best for you to pursue the relationship as long as possible. Children fare best in double-parent households and the stress and upset created by divorce can have a significantly negative impact on them. However, at some point remaining in the relationship may become more damaging to them than ending the relationship would be. If constant fighting makes them worried or you and your spouse begin vying against each other for their affections, these are signs your marriage is beginning to do more harm than good. Divorce lawyers can help you come to an amicable arrangement of custody and child support payments.
5. Do you or your spouse suffer from a mental illness?
Mental illness puts incredible stress on a marriage because it means one spouse may not be able to put any effort towards making the relationship work. According to a multinational study of mental disorders, “a sample of 18 mental disorders all increased the likelihood of divorce . . . Addictions and major depression were the highest factors, with PTSD also significant.” Of course, every effort should be made to continue the marriage whenever possible, but it may eventually become impossible for one spouse to carry on the relationship alone.
The day you decide divorce is necessary is going to be difficult and you may feel a mix of guilt and regret. But you also need to recognize the limits of your strength and that eventually, enough is enough. Be sure you hire a professional, experienced lawyer who can help you successfully find your way through this challenging time.