Written by Abigail Hirsch, Ph.D.
You just found another text message from him to another woman. Or maybe she did it again, spent far too much on things that are definitely not in the budget. Perhaps it simply feels like it’s been forever since there’s been any romance and “I love you” feels like a phrase from some foreign language.
In other words, have marriage problems become the new normal in your marriage? For most people, lack of intimacy, incessant bickering and breaches of trust were not what they had in mind when vowing “till death do us part.” If this is the story in your marriage, how can you tell if the problems are fixable or if it is time to throw in the towel?
Divorce can look like a tempting option. It holds out the allure of a fix to the pain or frustration. The divorce process encourages people to continue to believe that their spouse can’t change and that it isn’t in their control to make a difference.
At the same time, divorce is rarely a simple solution. Here are a few things to consider when your marriage is on the rocks before deciding that divorce is the only choice for you.
1) How likely am I to repeat this pattern with the next person who enters my life?
Bottom line, unless YOU learn how to do things differently, it’s pretty high odds that, with time, all the lousy patterns from this marriage will just follow right after you. What a pity that would be. Really, what would be the point of leaving this marriage to someday meet the new Mr. or Mrs. Perfect, and then, somewhere down the road, discover you’re having all the same problems all over again?
Now here’s a better alternative. Use your spouse as a guinea pig for trying out new marriage skills. What’s to lose? Your marriage? What’s to gain? Your marriage!!!!
2) What have I done to change the way I’m responding to this situation?
It’s so easy to assume that it’s the other person’s fault when things go south. And sometimes it truly is. A spouse who is committed to controlling or abusive behaviors thrives on placing the blame on the victim, when it is their behavior that is out of line. (Find more information on the situations where divorce is an appropriate response here.)
In most cases, however, it always takes two to tango. Learning where you could use a marriage savvy upgrade is likely to be far more productive than blaming everything on your spouse and filing for a divorce.
3) Where do I want to be in five years?
Is lonely, with kids who have been hurt, stuck in a custody/assets battle, and without the money to take a nice vacation your cup of tea?
If you’d rather be loved, with great, secure kids, and enjoying a week escape to the beach, learning how to fix your marriage is probably a better strategy than divorce. All marriages hit difficult, yucky, challenging spots.
Great people and great couples take these bumps in the road as a signal to get better at the whole marriage project and then learn how to build a new, first-rate marriage instead of tossing out the old broken one.
Think of it as the ultimate in recycling—take your broken marriage and transform it into something new and fabulous!
P.S. Not sure where to start? Find marriage education resources associated with any of our bloggers – or check out PowerofTwoMarriage.com. (Also visit Dr. Hirsch at http://drabigailhirsch.wordpress.com/.)