So, you have gotten to a point in your marriage where you are seriously considering divorce. When to end a relationship? this decision has potentially serious negative consequences for you, your spouse, and those you are close to within your life. It is a choice that must be thought through deliberately and carefully.
Sometimes, the best-laid plans are laid to waste. Despite all your hopes and dreams in the beginning, and all your good intentions now, it seems impossible to continue your marriage. For many of us, the notion of “till death do us part” has become an anachronism. When life becomes too painful, with too many battles and battle scars, few of us question the notion, at least intellectually, of moving on.
Why Consider Divorce?
Asking yourself “when to end a relationship”, is complicated and it will be difficult for you to be objective. Have you grown apart and become disconnected? Have your conflicts been handled poorly? Are you avoidant and unwilling to communicate?
Some people say that their “feelings are gone.” This is a sad and painful place to be. If you are having an affair, then you will not have a clear idea about your feelings towards your spouse. It is completely unrealistic to compare your spouse with your new lover.
Feelings were once there or there never would have been a second date, much less a marriage. To get your feelings back, you must be willing to put behavior before feelings. Acting as if you have loving feelings may have a very surprising and positive impact on your interactions with your spouse.
If you are not willing to look at your own contributions to the state of your marriage, you will most certainly carry some of your problems into your next relationship. It is imperative for you to think about what you need to change. Why not practice that with your spouse?
What Have You Done to Try to Fix the Problems?
If you have never been to marriage counseling together, then what would be the downside to trying? Alternatively, maybe you did try, but it was not your best effort. Perhaps the therapist you chose was not a good fit for one or both of you. Or, as is sometimes the case, one or both of you were not completely honest about everything.
At this crisis point in your marriage, seek out a highly qualified marriage therapist.
Now is also not the time to be cheap about it. This is too important a decision. Chances are you both have been poor problem solvers regarding your marital issues and need professional help.
What Will the Impact Be on Your Children?
If you have children that are still at home, you must think through how this will affect their lives. This will be something that will change them in significant ways regardless of how smooth you believe the divorce process will be for you and your spouse.
You may even come to regret your divorce, as many people do. Will you be okay with your spouse’s new romantic partner being around your kids? You will not be able to control this. Blended families pose lots of complications. The divorce rate is worse for subsequent marriages. Since the odds are not in your favor, why not try to make your current situation better?
When to End a Relationship?
How do you know when you’ve finally reached the point of no return, when putting your relationship together again is simply too much of a stretch? In the end, of course, the answer is personal. But if your answers to the following questions are irrefutably “yes,” it might be time to let go:
- Does every situation, no matter how seemingly trivial, evolve into a fight?
- Do you or your spouse continually refer to hurtful events in the past?
- Is all the respect gone from your relationship? Do you feel it is impossible to bring that respect back?
- Have your goals and directions changed, whereas your partner’s have stayed the same? (Or vice versa.)
- Is your partner no longer fostering your individual growth?
- Have you and your partner both changed so much that you no longer share moral, ethical or lifestyle values?
- Have you and your spouse lost the art of compromise? When you disagree, are you unable to forge a path together that is acceptable to both?
- Do you and your spouse have a basic sexual incompatibility? Do you feel completely unattracted to each other? Despite help from professional therapists, have you stopped making love?
Be Absolutely Certain
The decision to divorce should never be made in the aftermath of a fight. Divorce is final and should be considered carefully, not just for its impact on you, but also for its impact on your children. When you divorce, what ramifications will reverberate through your life and the life of your family?
Will you have enough money to sustain your lifestyle—including important small details such as trips to the movies, piano lessons or your weekly take-out Chinese food? Are you ready to leave the family house for a tiny apartment? Are you ready to divide the Impressionist paintings you’ve collected over the last 20 years, your mint collection of rock ‘n’ roll singles or the living room set you bought from the furniture master in Milan?
The answers, for many, might be straightforward: The emotional relationship with their spouse is largely negative, for one or more of the reasons listed previously. Why else would divorce be in the air?
Do not stay in the bubble of indecisiveness for too long. It may seem comfortable, but you really just have three choices: (1) remain the same and continue along as-is, (2) move toward separation and divorce, (3) try an all-out effort to reconcile.
Ambivalence, or “sitting on the fence,” can be worked through and is best done with the right professional. In fact, a process called “discernment counseling” has proven to be highly effective at helping couples on the brink of divorce work through their decision rather than stay indefinitely in a place of indecisiveness and unhappiness.