I just don’t love him anymore. She doesn’t make me happy. We fight all the time. The kids are grown and we have nothing in common. Those are some of the words that are often spoken by a husband or wife when they’re ready to throw in their marital towel.
But there are a lot of reasons why couples should move slowly and think carefully about the incredibly life altering decision to move toward separation or a divorce. I’ve shared with you the 3 Things to Remember Before You Call It Quits in Marriage. Today, I’m offering struggling couples these 6 questions to ask and honestly answer before they call it quits in marriage.
1. Have we done everything we can to rehabilitate our marriage?
I’ve heard the claim: I’ve done everything I can, but it’s just not working. But often, there is no real evidence that supports that claim. Many times, one or both spouses are not even willing to consider steps that could help, such as attending counseling, giving up personal habits or hobbies, or reprioritizing their lives. A couple willing to do something about their challenges may want to consider these 4 Ways to Know When It’s Time for Marriage Counseling and Finding a Good Marriage Counselor.
2. Do we have truly significant grounds for separation or divorce?
All states have some version of no-fault divorce laws which make it very easy for one spouse to end a marriage without cause. Most only require a statement that there are irreconcilable differences in the relationship. However, spouses should be brutally honest in assessing the basis for this decision. Statements like those made at the top of this post should not be reasons for a breakup, but should be a challenge to work on the relationship. Of course, serious issues like adultery, abuse or abandonment may be the basis for separation or divorce. Although none of these things should ever be tolerated, there can sometimes be reconciliation between a husband and wife under certain circumstances. For example, when an unfaithful husband confesses his wrongdoing to his wife, truly sees his gross error, seeks counseling, recommits to his wife, and changes his ways, then reconciliation can occur.
3. Is there unresolved, unforgiven conflict?
I have a friend who often says to his family: If you mess up, ‘fess up. [Tweet This] Couples who have unresolved conflicts that build up over time can feel hopelessly unforgiving or unforgivable. Taking an honest assessment together, with hearts willing to apologize and to forgive, can avoid a lifetime of pain and guilt that a divorce will often produce. Learn more about what forgiveness is and what it is not.
4. Have we really considered the effects on the children?
Decades of studies now show that children of divorced parents typically struggle more in many areas of life than kids who have not experienced divorce. Whether you believe those studies or not, children who have divorced parents will, in some way, be negatively, emotionally impacted. The recurring question then is: Should we stay together just for the sake of the children? I’d suggest that it is certainly an important factor that needs to be weighed and considered.
5. Have we thought through all of the consequences of divorce?
While some adults may seem to thrive after a divorce, the consequences a husband or wife might face include depression, insecurity, vulnerability to addictions, decreased health, loss of contact with family and friends, and new financial burdens — just to name a few.
6. Have we looked at changing ourselves?
It’s easy to point the finger of blame at your spouse. You may have friends and family members who will even help you. It’s harder, but usually more productive, to be introspective. Both spouses should assess their own role that has led to the current situation. It’s rarely ever just a completely one-sided issue. There are usually two sides to every marital story.
What other questions do you believe couples should ask themselves or each other before calling it quits in their marriage? Please share your insights below.