Have you ever wondered, “Should I get a divorce?” Sometimes it’s hard to tell if your marriage problems spell doom for your union, or, if it is possible—and worth it—to salvage your marriage. Power of Two is founded on the principle that most divorces can be prevented by learning the skills for strong, healthy marriages. At the same time, some relationships have toxic and dangerous elements that make divorce the best option for everyone involved. These behaviors can be hard to face, and they should never be ignored.
The following are Dr. Heitler’s “Top Five reasons to Divorce”:
- Your spouse is controlling. He/she attempts to manipulate you and/or control your friends, activity, behavior or money by the use of threats, put-downs, criticism, excessive guilt or anger.
- Your spouse has cheated repeatedly. One infidelity does not necessarily spell doom—with lots of work, your marriage can recover and be stronger than ever. However, repeated affairs mean your spouse unlikely to change his ways no matter what.
- There are unaddressed addictions. You should consider leaving if your spouse has damaging problems with gambling, drugs, alcohol, or other behavior and refuses or continues to avoid getting treatment.
- There is an unaddressed mental disorder. Many couples live with mental disorders and have strong marriages. At the same time, if your spouse refuses to get treatment for a damaging or dangerous disorder, you should consider ending your marriage. It is the best for both of you.
- Your spouse is violent with you or others, or mistreats children. This is the most resounding “YES” to the question “Should I get a divorce?” Remove yourself and your children from this situation immediately and seek professional help.
The good news is the most common reasons for divorce these days are not the ones above—and this means they are fixable!
“Should I get a divorce?…“ Consider couples counseling over divorce if the following sounds like you:
- We just don’t communicate very well and can’t seem to resolve our conflicts. Communication and conflict resolution difficulties are the most common complaints of divorcing couples. Luckily, they are also simplest to change. You can learn the skills to handle these problems at any time and they will help you in all areas of life, from your spouse to in-laws to the office.
- I just don’t love him anymore. Love is a cornerstone of marriage and feeling “out of love” can be frustrating and confusing. At the same time, the quality of love is constantly changing; sometimes hot and passionate, other times a cool, subtle bond. Do you really not love each other at all? Passion, intimacy and positivity can be revived!
- Because it’ll be better for the kids. It’s true that having fighting parents is hard on kids. At the same time, so is divorce. Also, if you keep fighting while you’re divorced, it’s still bad. The solution? Learn to stop the fighting. Marriage education can help you replace your arguments with positive dialogue and win-win problem solving!
- He/she’s just not the same person I married. We all change and grow as we go through life together. What’s important is knowing how to support each other on our personal journeys. Counseling can teach couples how to turn differences into powerful tools instead of a source of marriage problems.
- I don’t trust him/her anymore. He lied and made a stupid deal, she gambled or cheated… Sometimes people do make mistakes. At the same time, most mistakes are repairable. Get the skills to analyze your errors and prevent future repeats. Sometimes the sourer the lemon, the sweeter the lemonade.
In the old days, and in many places still, divorce is a difficult, lengthy process that is highly stigmatized. This has the potential to trap spouses, especially women, into dangerous and unhappy marriages that fall into the category of good reasons to divorce, listed above. So, in many ways, it’s a good thing that we can quickly leave marriages we are uncomfortable in.
At the same time, this gives us the responsibility to think about our choices very carefully. And I don’t mean to imply that anyone takes divorce lightly! It’s just that marriage isn’t easy, and divorce is not necessarily the answer to your marriage problems. Consider this: If you don’t learn the skills for a healthy relationship now, you are likely to find yourself in the same situation with simply a different person in the future.
If you feel your marriage getting rocky, don’t hesitate to talk to a therapist or try a program like Power of Two. Problems are solved most easily when they’re caught early. And it certainly never hurts!
From an interview with Dr. Heitler, 10/11
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