Is it Time? How Do You Know When It’s Time to Part?
How Do You Know When It’s Time to Part?
Articles differentiating infatuation and lust from authentic love, quizzes about compatibility or lists of what you need to know before you choose a mate abound in books, magazines and online. But how do you know when it’s time to part ways? Since every marriage goes through rough patches, what’s to say yours won’t survive one more?
Ultimately, it’s a question only you can answer but some situations send out unmistakable signals, such as …
When It’s Inevitable
If either you or your spouse have a “fundamental desire . . . to leave the marriage, no amount of counseling will bring happiness,” writes Dr. Danielle Teller, co-author of Sacred Cows: The Truth About Divorce and Marriage. Although you may — for any one of a number of great reasons, wish to work on rebuilding your marriage — if your spouse wants to separate, you’re just prolonging the painful conclusion. No amount of ‘what if I..’ will change the outcome at this point. You’ll be turning the page in any event and counseling can help you (and your children) come to terms with your spouse’s decision and help you make a healthier transition to your next chapter.
When It’s Bad but You Want It to Be ‘Good’
No matter how pervasive divorce has become, our culture tells us there’s a solution to an unhappy marriage — hard work. You must be a bad person if you’re not even willing to do the work that’s supposed to transform your marriage. Well, guess what? If you’ve tried turning yourself inside out trying to make it work and you’re honest with yourself, you may conclude that you shouldn’t have married your partner to begin with. In fact, if you had it to over, you wouldn’t have. Chances are you’ve both evolved in directions you couldn’t have anticipated 20 or 30 years ago. “It’s extraordinarily difficult for people to say, ‘I don’t want to work on my marriage. I want out,’” says Teller. “Our society no longer condones forcing people who do not love one another into marriage. We should do a better job of allowing couples who do not love one another out of marriage.”
When You Think Divorce Spells Disaster for Your Children
The bad news is that it often does. The good news is that it doesn’t have to. “Mature couples understand they may not want to be related to each other but they’ll be related to the children for the rest of their lives,” says Laura Favin, LCSW, a parenting-mediator with the Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation. Favin, who has 21 years experience as a family therapist and parenting educator, finds a marked difference between couples who choose mediation rather than other forms of divorce. “When their primary concern isn’t about money or retribution but about the children, it offers them an opportunity to come out whole.”
“If their parents are mature enough to nurture them and love them in spite of divorce, their children will do well,” concurs social worker Michael Shaffran. “If the children are fortunate enough to see their parents go on to choose other partners and have loving relationships with them with minimum strife and conflict, then this pattern will be a helpful model in how to select a mate someday for themselves.”
How to resolve conflicts, cooperate with others for the common good and enjoy healthy, happy partnerships are all invaluable life lessons to offer your children. Surely far more beneficial to them than living in denial or pain for their sake.
When You Can’t See a Way Ahead, Find the Exit
Perhaps the biggest obstacle in avoiding divorce is its reputation for acrimony and strife. Fortunately, mediation has come a long way in reversing that trend. “Just as past years have brought great advancement in technology, science, and medicine, they have also brought a significant advancement for people who are navigating the many challenges of divorce,” advises Keila Gilbert, Esquire, founder of Alpha Resource Center. Using the resources of a team of attorneys, therapists, and financial advisors, Alpha guides couples through the process of crafting a Marital Settlement Agreement that ensures a strong and stable future for themselves and their children.
An excellent and positive exit strategy should you decide it’s time for you to go your separate ways.
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