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Is It Time To Think About Getting Divorced?

Updated on April 28, 2014

When Relationships Go Sour

It is deeply painful and often humiliating to admit that your marriage is over. Whether you have been together for less than a year or more than three decades, you will be also acutely aware of all of the people who saw you vow to build a life with your spouse. You will be apprehensive about how people will react, about how you will cope without this person who has shared your home, and about the ugliness of the divorce process itself.

However, continuing to live in the misery and discontentment of a failed marriage is more soul destroying than anything that you will experience as part of a divorce. In addition, the longer that you continue lie to yourself or your partner then the more likely it is that the inevitable divorce will be bitter, resentful and angry. Unfortunately, it is not always easy for some couples to tell whether it truly is time to get divorced, and as a result you may live in a confused state of limbo for years.

Ask yourself the following questions to figure out whether divorce is the best option for you and your spouse.

Do you find yourself disliking or even loathing your spouse?

Perhaps the most profound sign that it is time to think about getting a divorce is the realization that you do not even like your partner any more. It is normal for you and your spouse to be mildly annoyed or inconvenienced by little parts of one another’s personalities, but it is not healthy to feel as though you simply loathe your partner. If you have stopped linking the majority of your partner's character traits, you will probably find that listening to them talk is tedious, predictable and irritating. You may feel like time spent together is merely an obligation or a chore, and that time spent apart leaves you dreading your reunion instead of looking forward to it. While some marriages can survive as something more akin to friendships than romances, if you do not like your partner’s personality then even this option is closed off to you. This means that divorce is very likely the best option for you.

Surviving a Divorce

Do you feel anxious or discontent when you think about a shared future?

When you are happily married, making plans for your future should be an exciting and enjoyable venture that brings your common goals and shared dreams into perspective. If talking about where you will be or what you will be doing several years down the line just fills one or both of you with sadness or dread, this is a bad sign. It might mean that you do not believe that the marriage will survive that long, or it might mean that the idea of it surviving is depressing rather than uplifting. At this point, it is a good idea to discuss whether it might be best for you to file for divorce. Some couples also find that talking about the future devolves into an intense and ugly battle over whose needs and desires matter more. This is also an indication that you might be better off apart, as you will then be free to pursue your own very distinct goals once again.

Do you rarely (or never) have intimate or meaningful conversations?

In the beginning, marriages usually involve long, animated and deeply personal conversations about all aspects of your lives. You will share lots of old memories, discuss everything you hope to achieve (even the less plausible dreams), and come to each other for advice. Unfortunately, as the years go by, some couples assume that there is nothing more to learn about one another and end up becoming complacent about meaningful communication. A sign that you and your spouse might be suffering from this problem is that you cannot remember the last time that you had a long and enjoyable conversation simply for the sake of talking and sharing. If all you talk about is money, chores and obligations, then you will no longer be close or feel emotionally intimate. This does not necessarily mean that you have to get divorced, as it is possible for couples to work to recover from this sort of communication problem. However, if you feel apathetic about improving the way you talk to each other and do not feel any desire for more meaningful communication, it may be the case that divorce is inevitable.

Have you or your spouse become seriously attracted to someone else?

It is common for couples to have a relaxed attitude towards the possibility of finding other people superficially and fleetingly attractive, as this is usually harmless. However, what is far from harmless is one or both members of the couple forming a serious, deep and intense attraction to someone outside of the relationship. When this sort of infatuation occurs, you will be unable to devote the amount of sexual or emotional energy that is necessary to keep your marriage alive. In addition, such infatuations will usually only occur if there is something inherently unsatisfying about the marriage (such as a lack of communication or a lot of conflict). Not all extra-marital attractions lead to the end of the marriage, and some couples can recover with the help of counseling and a lack of contact with the third party. However, sometimes the person who has been feeling this new attraction is unwilling or genuinely unable to let go of the other bond they have formed, or the person who has not felt attracted to anyone other than their spouse finds it impossible to forgive and forget what seems to be a huge emotional betrayal. In such cases, it is well worth considering whether getting a divorce might be the best course of action.

Have you or your spouse been unfaithful?

Although it is not impossible for a relationship to recover from infidelity, the statistics are not in your favor if you or your partner has cheated. For one thing, it is difficult for the betrayed partner to learn how to trust their spouse again, or indeed to feel that their partner deserves to be trusted. Secondly, someone who is genuinely in love and genuinely happy in their marriage is highly unlikely to feel and act on an impulse to be unfaithful, given the knowledge that it will destroy the other person in the marriage.

Do you constantly argue with your spouse?

All married couples come into conflict, and some arguments are a sign of how much you care rather than of how much you dislike each other. That being said, there is a huge problem in a relationship if fights are occurring on a daily basis. People who are in a happy marriage can easily tell that they spend more time feeling content and loving than they do feeling angry and resentful. If you are in the opposite situation, it might be time to start seriously thinking about getting divorced. Constant arguments should be taken as a particularly strong warning sign when they are filled with sarcasm or mean remarks, and when you do not make sustained attempts to solve the underlying problems that are causing the fights. If neither of you has the desire or energy to put in the effort required to resolve deep conflicts, it is clear that you no longer have the right feelings for one another.

Have you stopped being physically intimate?

It is vital to remember that some problems with physical intimacy have nothing to do with the state of your marriage. If one of you has been ill or suffers from a chronic health problem, you may struggle to be physically intimate. Similarly, if you are going through a lot of stress outside of the relationship (perhaps concerning depression or bereavement), it makes sense that you will not be as interested in the pleasures of physical intimacy. However, if these explanations are not relevant to your marriage then you should take seriously the possibility that you have stopped being physically intimate because your marriage is failing. You should be particularly concerned if you do not find your partner physically attractive any more, or find yourself making flimsy excuses to get out of making love. Similarly, if you can tell that your partner is making such excuses, it is probably time to start talking about whether divorce might be the best way to ensure your future happiness.

Do you feel happier and more relaxed when you are apart?

All healthy marriages and relationships will involve spending some time apart and enjoying individual pursuits. However, when you are away from your spouse you should at last vaguely miss their companionship, their touch, and their conversational contributions. If you feel relief and happiness when you know that your partner is far away, this is a sign that suggests you are no longer truly in love. If your happiest and best times are those that you spend away from your spouse, it is a good idea to consider whether you might well have a happier life in general if you were to file for divorce.

If you have answered a 'Yes' to any of these questions..

..there is at least some cause to consider talking to your partner about whether getting divorced might be the best option. However, you should be most concerned if you have been feeling as though you are starting to actively loathe your partner. It is cruel to stay with someone when you no longer truly love them, and it is bad for your own emotional wellbeing as well.

An Interesting Read

Contemplating Divorce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Deciding Whether to Stay or Go
Contemplating Divorce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Deciding Whether to Stay or Go

Contains a number of tests and evaluations that can further help you out in making the right decision -- whether to stay in your relationship or if it's time to say the final goodbye.


When do you think a marriage is over? What is the deciding factor?

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