A lot of marriages are unhappy. They can be unhappy for years and still many people won't make a change. They might even try to improve the marriage or just ignore the problems as best they can. Divorce is a choice that's available to everyone living in The United Sates. It's not something that should be pursued hastily, but it is often the only way for people to live a better life.
People often wonder if they'll know they're ready to pursue a divorce and the answer is most don't. That's one of the reasons people stay, because they're waiting to know or feel ready. It's nice when emotions align with the intelligence we've gathered, but it's not necessary for chosen action. Here are some signs that give you information on your readiness.
Signs you're not ready
- You're still in love: You're still in love with them. This is different than loving them. It's the warm personal attachment and deep connection you have with them.
- Hope that things will change: You can’t see your life without them. You feel there is more to try, to give, to do…to save your marriage.
- Big Fear: This is significant fear of any kind. Fear of making the wrong choice, of the unknown, that you're really not ready. You're afraid to stand on your own two feet. Really, fear of any kind can prevent you from pursuing a divorce. The fear is so big that it paralyzes you.
- You need them in your life: You aren't willing to forfeit the friendship. After a divorce, people most often don't remain friends. Most don't have any contact at all unless they have to communicate about their children.
- Haven't really tried everything: You haven't put the effort into healing your relationship. There are still many things to try and effort to give.
- Not ready to be independent: You may have never been on your own or it's been so long since you've had to take care of yourself and you can't fathom how you would do it. It may also be that your spouse has convinced you that can't make it on your own. You just let things happen to you rather than being the change in your own life. In order to pursue a divorce, you have to be in the driver's seat.
Signs you’re ready
- Shared Responsibility: You see how you and your spouse have contributed to the demise of your marriage. You don’t blame them or take over-responsibility for why it’s not working.
- Acceptance: You’ve accepted that your spouse will not change or the change will be short-lived. You accept you will not change. You know that you will never be truly joyful and satisfied as long as you stay in your marriage and you can see that you deserve more than that.
- Indifference: This is an unemotional state. There is no connection left. You simply feel nothing for them. You may still appreciate them on some level, but it's a shadow of what it once was.
- It’s Always on Your Mind: It’s not just the emotion that provokes this thought. It’s a constant knowledge even when things are fine. So, it's not just fighting that makes you think of divorce.
- Nothing Changes: You have tried everything you know how to try to strengthen your marriage. Nothing has worked and you've given it an honest effort.
- Action Plan: You have done some research on the logistics of a divorce and have started to prepare.
You don't have to have all of the signs present to be ready, just several that are very important to you. If there are too many of the signs that you're not ready, you may want to delay the decision. The decision to divorce is a very personal one. Only you can make it and if you make it, make sure it is the best one for you.
By Delicia Mclean, Ph.D., MHA