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What to Consider Before You End the Marriage

Ms. Dora is a Certified Christian Counselor. Her views on singleness, premarital and marital issues are influenced by her Christian beliefs.

Think twice, three times . . . if you are unhappily married and considering divorce.

Think twice, three times . . . if you are unhappily married and considering divorce.

Think twice, three times, one hundred times if you are unhappily married and considering divorce. Can you really make a wise decision before you talk with an honest divorcee or sit with a divorce support group and hear from those who can view divorce from hindsight? They can present alternatives that haven't crossed your mind, and you’d be surprised at the many salvageable opportunities for your marriage.

Perhaps you're tired of the cheating, abuse, drug or gambling addiction, or whatever is the disruptive behavior in the marriage. Or perhaps, your spouse is simply not contributing to the happy life you promised each other. Here are some questions to consider before you end the marriage:

  • Are you certain that divorce is the only way for you to be happier?
  • Are you considering divorce as a way to hurting your partner for the wrongs that he or she has done?
  • If so, do you think that hurting your partner will ease your hurt?
  • Can you justify your actions to the children and to your viewing public, especially those who look up to you?
  • Have you considered that the crisis in your marriage can be an opportunity for you to demonstrate genuine love and the importance of family?
  • Have you tried everything including counseling with a professional or a trusted friend?

With the right attitude, the spirit of forgiveness, and surrender to divine intervention, the following questions may show you how to replace marriage meddlers with marriage menders.

Photo by Jeff Klisares

Photo by Jeff Klisares

What Changed?

Incompatible differences (often cited) are usually difficult to identify because they are not tangible.

  • Difference of opinion?
  • Difference in value system?
  • Difference in moods and desires?

All you're sure of is that something changed. Truth is, you have gotten to know your spouse better, and some of the details are surprising. The surprises are mutual, and usually, the one who reacts more is the one who is more naïve.

At first, you spoke glibly about what you had in common. Now that you live together, you see more ways in which you are different, and you are magnifying the differences over the similarities which are still there. You can learn from the divorcees; they will tell you that concentrating on enjoying life together could minimize those irritants or render them non-essential.

Besides, who wants an exact copy of himself/herself for a mate? There would be very few reasons, if any, for laughter. Truth be told, incompatibility gets more blame than it deserves. Companionship can acquire a perfect blend, even if not a perfect match.

What About Commitment?

Double vision magnifies the differences. When you desire intimacy, and you think of a face other than your spouse’s, your vision becomes distorted.

  • Why does the spouse who previously seemed aggressive now seem nagging?
  • Aren't the traits you once called "financially responsible" the same traits you now call "miserly?"
  • When did the "attentive" behavior change to "clingy?"

These changes in vision are caused by your internal conflicts created by a wandering eye. You begin to compare the two visions in your head.

Looking for a reason to distance yourself, so you can have room to entertain the affections of someone else? Get a grip. It is not unusual for a married person to see attractiveness in someone other than his or her spouse. Be mature enough to remember your commitment to your marriage. Look again at your spouse and remind yourself of everything that attracted you in the first place. Also, remind your spouse that those features are important to you.

Is Survival Possible?

Many marriages get into trouble because outsiders are allowed to butt in. The overprotective mother, the suspicious mother-in-law, the dependent siblings, the high school buddy who wants to maintain the long-standing friendship relationship should all be put in their proper places--outside the marriage circle. The marriage union is comprised of you two--plus God--against the rest of the world, no matter how well-meaning the intruder might be.

If the couple agrees that advice is necessary, find a professional or close friend who enjoys the trust of both partners. Never share your problems except to get help. Set boundaries around your privacy and respect them. Often it is the betrayal of trust more than the disclosure of private information that causes the problem. Still, if this happens, don't hurry to leave the marriage. Your problems are not unique, so don't bother to feel embarrassed. Every marriage has some type of problem. Forgive, reconcile and make a greater effort to strengthen the bond between you from external interference.

When people know whatever they know about you, and they see you still pulling together, they will realize that you are determined to stay together. The world needs to see such determination.

"Love never gives up."

"Love never gives up."

What Else Can You Try?

There is no guarantee that every dysfunctional marriage can be restored to the heaven-on-earth condition, but it is a responsible and mature decision to try.

Try love as it is described in the Christian Bible. “Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, doesn't have a swelled head, doesn't force itself on others, isn't always ‘me first,’ doesn't fly off the handle, doesn't keep score of the sins of others, doesn't revel when others grovel, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end. Love never dies.” (The Message, 1 Corinthians 3-8). It takes a strong human being with a supernatural spirit to love like this. This is not a dare. Just saying, be careful and prayerful.

Still married? Then, with divine help and a sense of commitment, you still have the potential to be happily married!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: My husband is too violent and he is not responsible. What can I do?

Answer: "People whose partners abuse them physically and sexually are at a higher risk of being seriously injured or killed." This quote is from HelpGuide on domestic abuse. Take it seriously and practice zero tolerance for violence.

Protect yourself by removing yourself from your abuser's space, or by demanding that he leaves until both of you have had professional counseling. That's your responsibility. If you do the right thing, he might learn responsibility from you.

© 2011 Dora Weithers