The answer to that question is ultimately up to you and your spouse. There are so many variables that impact your decision. But the question is often asked, and I don’t think it would be fair of me to throw the ball right back to you. So let me share some thoughts with you.
I would first like to point out that over the lifespan of a marriage, there can be large blocks of time that don’t feel very good at all, followed by great periods of time. So, you ask, “When should I get a divorce?” the first thing that I suggest to you is that deciding to get a divorce should not be done quickly.
Children are the first thing to come to mind for me. Divorce is harder on kids than it is on their parents. But divorce really is preferred by kids when their parents have been fighting constantly for years.
Of any age, divorce is easiest for kids when they are little. They have very few memories of the two of you living together, and having divorced parents is more of a lifestyle in which they were always raised. It becomes their normal. For adolescents and teenagers, divorce is far more difficult. Many couples wait to divorce until the last one is a freshman in college. I have learned through clients that college kids feel like their home and family life were swiped from them the moment they weren’t looking. Think twice with college-aged kids, and careful not to underestimate their feelings.
In my individual counseling work, I have seen many women over the years who feel that their identity has been overpowered or even erased by their spouse. If that is the case for you, then you might want to think about re-shaping your life by getting a divorce. You have a right to be secure in your own identity whether you are married or single.
So the question remains as to whether or not you can hang onto your identity and still be married. In order for that to happen, there has to be in equal distribution of power, particularly with money and responsibility. I see many married couples in my office who struggle with father-daughter relationships and mother-son relationships. A healthy and strong marriage consists of two adult people. Period.
I also want to take a moment to state the obvious. If you are being abused in any way, physically or emotionally, it is time for you to seek a divorce from your spouse immediately.
I have seen so many people who have achieved great results through marriage counseling. Hundreds and hundreds. If you think you have a 1% chance of making your marriage work, I suggest you take it. Respect can be re-established through counseling. Trust can be restored. Awareness of each other’s needs through better communication skills is usually the cornerstone to a satisfying and lasting relationship. So try marriage counseling first; it is cheaper than seeing an attorney, and insurance often covers much of it!
– Lisa Ryan LPC