Is It Time To Go Your Separate Ways

Are you wondering if it's time to go or you should stay together and work on rebuilding your marriage instead? If so, you're not the first woman to struggle with this question. If you are in the middle of a relationship crisis and possibly on the brink of asking for a divorce, take some time to read the article below to gain some insight on making this difficult decision.

How Do You Know If It's Time Leave?

By Lawrence Birnbach, Ph.D. & Beverly Hyman, Ph.D.

Ann and Gary have two children. When Gary is home his major interest is watching sports TV. Ann longs to be more social with family and friends. She'd like to talk more with Gary. He says there is nothing much to talk about, and besides, she talks too much. Gary often criticizes Ann. He thinks Ann is too strict with their children. She thinks he's uninvolved. Their lack of communication and closeness has spread to their sex life which is neither frequent nor enjoyable. She has lost respect for Gary, and feels he doesn't treat her with respect. When Gary has aggravation at work, Ann no longer feels sympathetic. Ann feels the life has gone out of their marriage; it has become an empty shell. She may be right.

Crossing arrows with a question mark in the middle

Ann, like millions of married women, lies awake at night asking herself "Is this all I can expect out of life? Are we just going through a rough patch? Would I be happier if I divorced?"

How does anyone having problems in their marriage, know if it's time to go? Ending a marriage is one of life's most difficult decisions. Before making it, a person should leave no stone unturned in trying to heal and bring life back to their marriage.

Try to Fix It

Open a dialogue: Ann needs to open a dialogue with Gary. She needs to be clear about what she is troubled by. In our book, How to Know If It's Time to Go, we offer a "Marriage Test," a "Marriage Bill of Rights," and "The Nine Areas," these are the areas all couples must resolve differences in. With these tools Ann can identify where the strengths and weaknesses are in her marriage.

Ann must impress Gary with how serious their situation is. Many times a spouse won't take the other seriously until they believe that, if things don't change, it will mean the end of the marriage. They need to have a two way discussion in which they each express their disappointments and wishes for their relationship. Each needs to understand that they have to take some responsibility for getting to this low point. It can't just be a blame game. If they can't start communicating with each other, there is little hope that the relationship can improve.

Seek help: It would be ideal if Ann could convince Gary to go with her to speak with a counselor or a clergyman, or join a marriage support group. If he won't, she should go alone. To fix the marriage both people will need to make changes, but Ann can't control Gary. All she can do is make changes she can make which might help their relationship. After trying to do what she can, if nothing changes, she should deal with her fears of separation.

Deal with Your Fears

People fear the impact that separating will have on their children, their finances and themselves. Most of what they fear is not what happens for the vast majority of people, although life's routines are disrupted during a transition period after separation.

The facts: Here are facts that would be helpful for Ann, or anyone considering divorce, to know:

  • 75% of women remarry; 83% of men remarry
  • most children's school performance and behavior improves within a couple of years of their parents' unhappy marriage ending
  • within a few years, most men's and women's standards of living rebound to approximately where they were prior to divorce
  • most divorced fathers live near their children, see them regularly, and reliably pay child support
  • two thirds of all divorces are initiated by women; the major reason women give for ending marriages is their husbands' unwillingness to mature or change
  • most divorces are settled amicably, not in court.

Dr. Birnbach has worked as a psychoanalyst for over 25 years, helping couples and individuals work through their relationship troubles. Dr. Hyman is an organizational consultant and internationally known business specialist facilitating clients in the area of in conflict management. Together, they have written HOW TO KNOW IF IT'S TIME TO GO: A 10-Step Reality Test for Your Marriage.

If you're still struggling with the decision of whether it's time to go ahead with a divorce or if you should stay and work on the marriage, the following articles can help you work through your issues: