I suppose it’s because I’m a divorcee that people often come to me when they’re contemplating divorce. As divorce shouldn’t be entered intolightly, I would advise any friend of mine to consider the following questions:
1. Am I really done? Though to those in my life, separation may have seemed a quick decision on my part, this was far from the truth. My five-year marriage was more, “downs,” than, “ups,” in my point of view. Sure, we had good times. In fact, after every week-long dose of the silent treatment was a revival of the great friendship we once had, and for a few years my grip on the marriage remained firm because of this.
That being said, there would come a time, when those moments weren’t enough. It was when I realized I could imagine life without him that I really began to consider separation, as it was evident to me that I was nearing my end. But it wouldn’t be until I no longer cared about the repercussions of leaving that I realized I had not only neared my end, but had fully arrived.
If you still care, you’re not done. Manipulative acts of, “I’ll leave, then he/she will see,” backfire. So make sure you’ve thought this through.
2. Have I given it my all? I imagine the people who come to me for divorce advice expect a, “Leave. You can make it!” However, that’s never my advice. I’d more likely ask whether there were real irreconcilable differences. Financial incompatibility has the potential of repair, as does working long hours, infrequent sex—and even infidelity. There are many professionals in either of those areas that can help strengthen a marriage, but both people have to be willing. When I realized for consecutive months I had been the only one at our marriage counseling sessions, I began to think, “I’m the only one interested in repair.” Nevertheless, I stayed for a few years more. I owed it to myself, and my son, to give it my all.
It is when I felt like I was dying a little on the inside that I knew I had indeed given my all.
3. Have I made use of all the resources in my life? Influenced by the cultural traditions of my ex husband, I didn’t think it fair to make a unilateral decision. I married into the“family.” As such, family was to be considered a resource. I reached out to a family member of his that I knew wouldn’t be judgmental. I asked him to speak to my-then-husband and explain how dire the situation was.
In this American context, that may seem a far-fetched concept, after all, you might not want everyone in your business, but I imagine there has to be at least one person you can trust. If you’re not able to use these resources, there are online resources, blogs and groups of well-meaning people who may share similar experiences and can suggest ways in which you can overcome.
When you leave, even if you only intended to leave for the purposes of a separation, it isn’t easy to come back. So make sure you’ve tapped all resources first.
4. Am I prepared to deal with the consequences? When a marriage ends, there are many repercussions—many losses. You may lose friends, income, as well as you lose a part of your identity. You may be demonized. Your family, his/her family and your own friends may judge you.
Be firm in whatever decision you make in order to weather these storms. Leave only if you are sure—beyond the shadow of a doubt—that your marriage is toxic. Things like boredom have solutions.
Feministas have you ever had to make this hard decision? Share your life’s lessons.