Marriage is a beautiful thing. It’s one of the most profound experiences we can have, a deep relationship that helps to shape our worldview, challenge our weaker points, and strengthen the gifts we already possess. It can leave us elated, adventuresome, wiser, and full of hope in the future. Tragically, it can often leave us feeling confused, betrayed, lost, hopeless, and even afraid.
Roughly half of all marriages end in divorce. That’s a troubling statistic. Most of us have been affected by divorce in some way, even if we’ve never been married. Maybe our parents are separated, a brother or sister and their spouse, a close friend’s parents, or someone else close to us.
Divorce has a way of infiltrating everything in proximity. And while the stress, confusion, and sorrow that often accompany these separations take time, good counsel, and a lot of healing to get through, there are times when divorce becomes necessary. Occasionally, it is even needed to keep you and your children safe.
It’s important to discuss your situation with an experienced divorce attorney, a good marriage and family counselor, and anyone else with sufficient knowledge and your best interests in mind. There are several reasons why divorce might become the best option for you. Let’s look at 8 of these right now.
Your Spouse Shows a Repeated Pattern of Abuse
This is a big one, and not something you want to mess around with. Whether the abuse is verbal, physical, or both, living with an abusive partner can be incredibly frightening, traumatic, and dangerous to spouses and kids. Long-term relationships involving abuse can destroy your confidence and well-being. It can lead to severe changes in personality, difficulty coping with normal life stresses, increased isolation, depression, alcohol and substance addiction, career challenges, distance from your community, and illness.
Remember, these horrible and traumatizing events are not your fault. They are the product of a spouse or partner who is unhealthy and in need of professional help. It’s important that you make the necessary calls and appointments to make a change for the better. Seek help immediately from local police, domestic abuse recovery advocates and organizations, attorneys, local community centers with professional help, counselors and trusted family and friends who can help you during this time. You and your children matter so much. While repeated abuse is frightening and damaging, there is a way out.
One or Both of You Have Committed Adultery and Remain Unapologetic
Another common tragedy, infidelity, affects millions of couples and families each year. While the stats are conflicting, it appears that somewhere between 20% and 60% of marriages experience at least one instance of infidelity. Adultery is usually one of the most devastating things one can experience. It has a way of digging into our sense of identity, our self-confidence, our whole idea of our place within the relationship and our world. It is often cited as one of the primary reasons for separation because so many couples can’t seem to grow past it.
The hope, ultimately, is that couples pursue reconciliation. It’s not only possible, but happens all the time. The key is honesty, transparency, vulnerability, authentic apology, and forgiveness. Trust is a prime factor and takes time to rebuild. Generally, the help of a good counselor is advised. They can help you both develop tools and habits that move you toward greater understanding and healing.
Still, if an unfaithful spouse shows no signs of changing their attitude, a continual unapologetic demeanor, and takes very few or no steps toward reconciliation, this is a good signal that divorce may be the right move. You can only heal with someone who wants the same thing. At this point, it’s important to seek professional legal counsel from an attorney and begin taking thoughtful steps toward divorce.
Your Spouse Has Ongoing Alcohol or Substance Abuse Problems
While reasonable alcohol consumption can be an enjoyable part of adult life, severe, daily consumption habits can destroy families. Whether it be drugs or drink, these addictions have a way of tearing down all that we’ve built together. Addictions drive individuals to make selfish, destructive decisions. It often begets impulse and judgment problems in other areas as well, leading to poor spending habits, cheating, lossed jobs, and missed opportunities with kids and family,
These kinds of addictions can also be flat-out dangerous, as there is a statistically significant increase in both verbal and physical abuse in relationships, where substance abuse is an issue. People can and do sometimes change. And if your spouse deeply desires to make a change, shows consistent effort, gets counseling and professional recovery help, and invites you to be a vital part of their recovery, the journey can actually bring you closer to one another.
However, when this isn’t the case, when the habits continue or worsen, and they remain stubborn and show no desire for change, this may be the time for you to look at divorce. You and your kids’ safety, financial security, health, and emotional wellness are top priorities. You can still love your spouse, support them in other ways and encourage them toward change without endangering yourself or your family by remaining in this kind of situation. For some people, extended separations in lieu of divorce work, inspiring the troubled spouse to reevaluate their actions and make significant changes.
A Refusal to Never Let Go of Past Wrongs
While individual decisions and past mistakes are going to be the source of conflict and arguments throughout your marriage, many couples develop ways to talk through these things, enabling one another to grow past hangups and hurts and become a stronger couple in the end.
Still, in some cases, one or both spouses choose stubbornness and refusal over change. They choose continually to not forgive the mistakes of their partner, to continue to bring up wrongdoings in order to control the relationship, manipulate the outcome of arguments and dominate through guilt. Other times, it’s simply a sign that they still have some growing up to do.
If both parties are willing, these conflicts can be mended with the help of a good counselor. But if either one of you remains unforgiving and judgemental, it could be time to move on.
Constant Disrespect for One Another
Another unfortunate aspect of some struggling relationships is the continual disrespect of one’s partner, both when you’re together and when you’re with others. Occasional slip-ups are normal, individual instances of unkindness and a lack of respect do happen in marriages. But if you’ve both settled into a hostile environment of meanness, disrespect, gossiping about each other, and not supporting or showing love, this could mean divorce is on the horizon.
One or Both of You Refuse to Communicate
Communication changes throughout marriages. Naturally, there will be seasons of greater connection, closer conversations, more openness, and the desire for consistent communication. Then there are seasons of struggle, where you find it more difficult to talk about certain things, or struggle to find the right words. These phases often pass with time, greater effort, and personal growth.
Sometimes, though, couples lose their desire to communicate and connect completely. They avoid one another, talk only about surface things like schedules, appointments, and events and can’t seem to rekindle any amount of intimacy.
Also, avoiding arguments is another sign. While none of us is hyped about dealing with conflict, it is often necessary to move through certain problems toward understanding and closeness. If a couple finds themselves unable or unwilling to grow past these times of avoidance and distance for months or even years, divorce might become necessary.
You’ve Been Planning an Exit Strategy for a While
If things have been bad for a long time and you’re not only wondering and considering but laying out your exit plan in detail, this could definitely mean divorce. If you’re still hoping for healing, you can open up about your pain and disappointment and pursue counseling together. But if you continue to find yourself unwilling to move toward reconciliation and continue to spend a lot of time thinking about and planning your escape, it may be time to open a dialogue with a divorce lawyer.
You Have an Entirely Different Plan for Life
This is one that honestly should be considered and dealt with before the marriage even begins. You should pursue the counsel and communication needed to really know one another and determine whether you’re a good fit.
Once you’re married, disagreements are both commonplace and inevitable. And couples learn ways to disagree in a healthy manner and find solutions through discussion, healthy compromise and mutual respect. But if you both develop life plans so vastly incompatible that the two cannot mix, you may want to discuss what this means for the future.
Divorce is a serious choice, one that will change your life and the life of your children forever. But sometimes, it’s necessary for your safety, your health, or your future. It’s important to make prompt decisions for change when it comes to instances of abuse but consider the possibility of growth and reconciliation if lesser problems are the case.
Whatever you choose, experienced divorce lawyers are always there to provide advice and legal counsel to help you and your family prepare for the changes ahead. Consider your options and what’s best for you and your loved ones, and move forward knowing that while these choices are difficult, there is hope for a better future.
Torrone Law helps individuals and families navigate divorce with confidence and recover a sense of wholeness afterward. Connect with us today for a free consultation and learn more about all your choices.
For answers to questions about divorce, check out our frequently asked questions below.
How do I know it’s time for divorce?
The answer isn’t the same for everyone. Every relationship is different. Only you can ultimately determine whether it’s time to stay or go. Counselors, community leaders, mentors with long-term marriage experience, and trusted friends can help you find greater clarity. Of course, if you’re dealing with abuse, it’s definitely time to make a change.
What are some primary reasons why divorce becomes necessary?
It varies, but some of the most common include infidelity, emotional, verbal, or physical abuse, alcohol or substance addiction, refusal to communicate, constant disrespect, a refusal to forgive, or one of many other things.
Where do I go for help when dealing with the possibility of divorce?
A great place to start is talking to a divorce lawyer about your options and the possible divorce process, a counselor regarding emotional, relational and family concerns, as well as mentors, trusted friends and family, and other mature community members with your best interest at heart.