You think your marriage may be over. You’ve even contacted a divorce attorney but still have some nagging doubts. How do I know for sure? Did we really try everything?
If you’re confused and worried whether you’re making the right choice with divorce, you’re not alone. Around 25-30% of people who are in the divorce process still hope to reconcile with their spouse.
Even within my own practice, one of the most common goals of my clients is to help them determine whether they should stay together. Equipped with some pertinent information and learning skills to help with their interactions, couples actually can save their marriage – and have a happy one, too.
The 4 things to consider before you finalize your divorce:
1. You still have positive thoughts and memories about your spouse.
Can you recall any good times? When you reminisce about how you met or your first date, do you smile? Can you list positive traits of your spouse that you still see to this day? When you’re spending time together, do you sometimes still get along and have fun? If you can muster up any positive times, there’s a good chance that you can still make your marriage work.
Friendship is the foundation of a solid marriage and helps fuel the positive feelings that are essential to keeping it alive. By the time couples come to me for help, many have neglected their friendship over the years and have felt misunderstood and disconnected from each other. Reconnecting has to be intentional – carving out time for one another, doing the things you used to do when you first got together, and overall making your marriage a priority in your lives.
2. Communication struggles can be fixed.
It’s important to realize that communication problems are a reality for most couples. In fact, effective communication is one of the most common things my couples desire in their marriage. Not having it doesn’t mean you’re not compatible or you shouldn’t be married, it just means that you may need to develop skills to understand each other better and handle conflict more efficiently.
3. It’s ok to have differences.
The reality is that marital problems are inevitable. In fact, research shows that no matter who you are with, you will not see eye-to-eye on nearly two-thirds of issues. Do you disagree about the frequency of sex? About how money should be saved or spent? Do you have different preferences in how to spend your free time? This is just a small sample of the many issues couples have to negotiate. I teach my clients how to understand their spouse’s perspective, to honor and respect what is most important to their spouse without completely sacrificing their own needs. You will still get what you want, but marriage means flexibility and compromise.
4. You’re open to learning new skills.
As I frequently tell my clients, no one is taught how to have a successful marriage. We may think that because “we love each other,” that love will naturally sustain it. I wish! You have to protect your love in order for it to continue to thrive for a lifetime.
What’s amazing is that researchers have been studying happy and healthy marriages for decades and have been able to pinpoint certain behaviors and patterns that are absolutely essential for a marriage’s success. If you’re open to learning these new skills and gaining this knowledge, seek a therapist who specializes in couples therapy. Instead of questioning whether divorce is your only option, you can instead receive the tools that you need to truly determine if, as a couple, you can still make your marriage work and have the kind you two have always wanted.