Should You Stay in the Marriage or Leave?
Divorce is a long and painful process. It will affect you, your partner and any children deeply. Deciding whether to separate or stay with your partner will depend on your particular situation, whether you believe the relationship can be saved and what you are prepared to do to keep the family together. Separation may also be the best thing you can do for yourself and your family.
Needs and Boundaries in a RelationshipYou create the boundaries inside which you feel you can happily continue a relationship. Your partner may have been abusive, and you may decide this is forgivable. They could then decide to end the relationship. You might beg and plead with them to stay in order to save the marriage, or for the sake of your children. But at a certain point they may cross a line and you will then have to switch to focusing on how to survive the inevitable separation.
If you have children, you could decide to stay together for their sake, but the relationship between you and your partner might not realistically be able to survive. Look at each of your needs as well as your children’s. Discussing your individual boundaries as a couple can be a challenging and useful process. Make a list just for yourself of what you want in your relationship. Give each item two scores, one for whether you get it now and another based on the chance of it materialising in the future.
Talking About SeparationIf it is possible, arrange a time to talk openly with your spouse about what you think the problems are and what you want to do about it. Give each other time, don’t interrupt and listen properly. Another incredibly important thing is to talk honestly. If you feel the relationship is beyond repair, make that clear. If there is still hope, say so. If you go to court, a judge will not penalise you for being the one that petitioned for divorce.
You might feel like the love has just gone from the relationship or your constant fighting is damaging the whole family. Your partner may have had an affair, or one of you may have experienced a tragedy that is now affecting your relationship. Whatever the issues are, they should be talked about so both of you are aware of each other’s feelings. You may be surprised by how much simply getting the issues out in the open can change the dynamic between you.
If you find it difficult to talk, your partner is holding back or every conversation turns into an argument, you should consider seeing a counsellor or therapist. Whether you go on your own or with your partner, you will find having an independent and professionally-trained person available to assist you with these difficult issues can be incredibly useful. Do not be afraid to reach out for help, and realise that a counsellor may identify deep-seated emotions or behaviour that could take effort to transform.
The Divorce ProcessDivorce usually takes between 5 to 8 months to complete and should take no longer than a year. The divorce process will doubtless be emotionally taxing on you and your family. It could also cost you a substantial amount of money. The best way to reduce the emotional and financial cost is to plan and communicate as much as possible in advance.
If you divorce you will need to provide proof of the grounds of the separation, such as adultery or unreasonable behaviour. You and your partner will also be asked to submit detailed financial statements and information on your children’s circumstances, as well as proposals for their future care. Unless your partner is abusive or your home is at risk and you have to act immediately, it is worth taking time to discuss all these details with your partner in advance.
Making a Decision About SeparationThe decision to separate will have a profound effect on your life. What you decide to do and how you go about it now will change how it affects you in the future. If you do decide to separate, the emotions that are brought up in yourself, your partner and your children will take time to process. They will also resurface in the months and years following your separation.
Guilt and blame, love turning into hate, uncontrollable rage and deep sadness are typically part of the separation and divorce process. Do not be afraid of creating the circumstances in which these emotions will emerge, or of addressing them now individually or with your partner.