It’s a simple truth that divorce is one of the biggest life decisions that one can make. While we are here to help families through divorce, and while divorce absolutely is the best decision for some families, we also believe that it is not a decision to be taken lightly. Those who are contemplating divorce should take the time to do exactly that – truly contemplate it. Explore your emotions, think through your feelings, and envision your future as it might be post-divorce. Carefully assess the implications of your decision, and make sure you have made the efforts you feel that you should make to save your marriage. Doing so ultimately provides far more peace of mind than making a spontaneous decision, regardless of which path you choose. In that spirit, we offer some guidance on what to contemplate when you’re contemplating divorce.
If you have reached a place in your marriage and your life where you are seriously contemplating divorce, chances are high that you are likely under some amount of emotional stress. This is understandable. The decision to get married is one of the most momentous decisions in life, and the decision to divorce, almost equally so. During this time, be patient with yourself. Don’t rush into any hasty decisions, and be kind and compassionate with yourself, and with your spouse. Take all the time that you need to really think through your decisions. Take a long, hard look at your marriage – not only its difficulties, but its positive attributes as well. Look toward the future, and really try to envision what it might be like after your marriage ends – financially, emotionally, and practically.
Stepping back from the stress of the moment and taking a thorough emotional inventory can be immensely helpful. It can be understandable, when you find yourself in an unhappy place in your marriage to assume that you have only two choices – stay unhappy, or obtain a divorce. In fact, however, there are viable alternatives. A simple truth is that while divorce may remove some stresses, it does create others. There may be added financial stressors, conflicts over child custody, and other difficulties that arise during and after the divorce process that are worth thoroughly considering. After doing so, some people decide that despite feelings of disappointment or anger, their marriage is worth saving. Only you and your spouse can ultimately make that determination, but it is very important to thoroughly think through your feelings before doing so.
If you are contemplating divorce, it can also be helpful to truly take the necessary time to envision your future and what it might be like without your spouse. Certainly, divorce will have many effects, not only for you and for your spouse personally, but also on your lifestyle, and certainly for your children. Major life changes can be difficult for all of us, but this is often especially the case for children. Think through what this change might mean for everyone – from an emotional and a practical perspective. How might it change your day-to-day routines? How might it affect where you live, and where your children go to school? Will you be able to remain in the marital home, or will you need to downsize? What might this mean from a practical perspective for your children and their day-to-day activities? Do you have a strong support network of friends, or family that might be able to help you when needed? While these considerations should certainly not serve as the sole basis for any decision you make, they are certainly important to think about as you’re trying to look objectively at the whole picture.
Having an objective realistic long-term view of what might be best in your particular situation can be difficult when you are in the midst of emotional turmoil and feel particularly sad or angry. For this reason, it is vital to take the time that you need to truly contemplate divorce and what it means, as well as your marriage, and whether or not you believe it can be saved. Don’t hesitate to seek counseling, or assistance from supportive family and friends as you work through your feelings and think through what you need and want for your future. Doing so is worth your time, and likely to result in a feeling of greater peace about whatever decision you ultimately make.
Why Marriage Counseling?
Some marriage counseling statistics indicate that only 10% of couples seek marriage counseling prior to making the decision to divorce. We believe that this number should be much, much higher. Marriage counseling is often extremely helpful to couples who want to find healthy ways to work through their issues and difficulties in a safe space. Sometimes, even when we have the best of intentions toward resolving a problem or issue in an amicable way, our emotions can get the best of us, and it can be difficult to remain objective. A marriage counselor often provides couples with a place to safely address the problems they are facing with the help of an objective third party who can listen and, ideally, offer practical advice and potential solutions.
Certainly, most of us realize that counseling is not some sort of easy, magical solution to all of our problems, and the reality is that not every couple who goes to counseling will ultimately save their marriage. Nevertheless, there are still a number of good reasons to give counseling a fair try. These include:
For these reasons and many others, marriage counseling can be immensely helpful for those contemplating divorce. Choosing the right therapist to guide you through that process is, therefore, very important.
How to Choose a Marital Therapist
It goes without saying that making the decision as to whether or not you will ultimately seek a divorce is one of the most important decisions you will make. Understandably, then, if you have decided to pursue marriage counseling prior to making that decision, you want to find a marriage therapist who is well-qualified and a good fit to help you work through your feelings. How can you go about doing this? A few helpful guidelines for making this important decision include the following:
In addition to taking these important steps, getting a head-start at looking through lists of qualified therapists online can also be helpful. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) is the most well-known professional association for marriage therapists. Membership requires a minimum of a master’s degree, as well as specific graduate training in marriage and family therapy under the supervision of qualified and experienced therapists. Those who are looking for a credentialed therapist can look on the AAMFT website (https://www.aamft.org), as well as asking friends, family members, or their attorney for recommendations of qualified professionals in their area.
While all of these steps are important in selecting a therapist that is a good fit for your needs, looking at practical information is important too. Don’t hesitate to ask potential therapists about their fees, what insurance they accept, and the average length of therapy. Knowing these facts is also important to making an informed decision.
In the end, it is most important to trust your instincts when choosing a counselor. Choose someone with whom you feel that you and your spouse can openly share your thoughts and feelings, and to whom you can speak honestly and frankly. Additionally, make a commitment to give therapy a fair effort. Many couples who commit to going to therapy for a specific number of sessions often have more success than those who do not. It is also important to commit to fully focusing on your marriage during this time. Don’t begin new relationships, or make other decisions that may cause added stress to your marriage. Be fully present, and fully involved. If you are making the investment in counseling, commit to doing the necessary work to making your investment count.
If are considering divorce and need to speak to a family law attorney to understand your rights and options, please contact Adkins Law PLLC.