Making the decision to get married is a big step in anyone’s life. Likewise, the decision to end that marriage through divorce is equally difficult. Married individuals may begin a tug of war in their own mind over the questions, “should I stay,” or “should I go?”
Ultimately what they decide is going to have a major impact on the rest of their lives. How does one decide though whether a marriage is worth saving or whether it is truly over? Part of that process has to lie in the specific nature of the problems that exist in a marriage.
Are the problems temporary? Are the problems financial? Are the problems sexual? Is there simply too much stress at work and it keeps finding its way home with you? Have your interests changed that much or have you simply grown away from spending time with each other?
Are your parenting styles so different that you argue about everything concerning the kids from the length and color of their hair to the number of hours that they spend on the computer each day? Do outsiders influence your relationship with each other? Is there too much interference from well-meaning but misguided in-laws?
If you can identify the problems that lie at the bottom of the discord that currently exists in your marriage, then you can assess the likelihood of resolving your dilemma. Some problems are worth solving, compromising on, or simply getting rid of in order to create that matrimonial bliss that once existed.
Marriage is about compromise during the marriage and divorce is actually about the lack of compromise during the marriage and a forced compromise after the marriage. Realistically, it might be worth making a few changes in order to save the marriage.
Consider debt consolidation or cutting up the credit cards to solve your financial woes. Get a physical and make sure medical problems don’t lie at the root of your sexual problems. Find a new job- one that doesn’t include take-home work and stress along with take-home pay. Find new things to do together that you can both enjoy.
Now for the issues on an emotional level that may be more difficult to solve. Cut the kid’s hair or get over your dislike of it, toss out the hair dye, restrict the hours he spends on the computer by giving him something else to do, toss the in-laws out or incorporate a “by invitation only” policy, and get on with your marriage. No, it isn’t going to be easy, but neither is divorce. Plus, this may not be a viable solution for you. If the problems in the marriage are more severe, then it will take more than a few simple changes to find the right path.
Take a step back and eye up the personal damage, the collateral damage, and the passing damage that might occur if you end this marriage now. Your personal damage is the manner in which a divorce would affect you and your life. The collateral damage is the manner in which a divorce would affect those closest to you- your children, your spouse, your parents, your spouse’s parents, etc. Passing damage is minor stuff that dissipates over time and usually isn’t as painful, life changing, or dreadful, but rather, is simply annoying.
Next, take some time to think about several things. Why did you get married in the first place? Did you marry for love or for convenience? Were you ever happy during the marriage? Do you think that you could be happy in the marriage again if certain circumstances didn’t exist? This is perhaps one of the most important questions that you can ask and consider. If you believe that you would still be happy in your marriage if certain things weren’t happening, then you might have a reason to stay and work on this marriage. After all, a happy marriage is a good marriage and the possibility of happiness beckoning in the future is a real plus.
On the other hand, if you believe that nothing can save your marriage and anything is better than remaining married, the best course of action may very well be to get a divorce. Whatever you decide, take your time before making the commitment to end something that once had meaning to you.