What Are My Alternatives to Divorce?
When you said your vows to stay married through sickness and health, through wealth and poverty, to be together forever until separated by death, you had no idea what marriage was really about. But this is not uncommon. As you settle in your new life together, you realize that there are quirks in your spouse and with each new quirk, you are forced to make a choice: to accept this person for who they are or to criticize them until they become who you want them to be.
It’s probably easy to recall many wonderful times you have had together, but they are often overshadowed by the strain of all that has burdened your marriage for many months and even years. You don’t know how to fix all that’s broken in your marriage, and wonder if divorce is the answer. When you think of getting a divorce, the feelings are mixed. You desire relief from the ongoing disagreements, cutting remarks, and emotional exhaustion. On the other hand, you deeply love and care for this person you promised to love and cherish forever, and wonder if there’s another option?
While we provide legal services for anyone looking for a divorce, we also hope that if there’s any way to save your marriage, that you would consider taking those steps first. Divorce has a ripple effect - those who get divorce often have no idea the effect their choice has on close relatives and friends, especially children, whether young or all grown up.
But before we go on, let’s first deal with the issue of safety. If you are being physically, emotionally, sexually abused and/or your children are suffering under any kind of abuse from your spouse, you must get out immediately and seek professional help. There may still be ways to save your marriage and save your family, but not if anyone’s safety is compromised.
If safety is not your number one concern in your marriage, then we’d like to suggest a few helpful questions to ask yourself before making the final decision to get a divorce.
- What Has Your Level of Commitment Been In The Marriage? If you have not put forth every effort to work on your marriage, to partner with your spouse in every aspect of your relationship, to work through and face the difficult issues, and to honestly look at your own role in perpetuating certain dysfunction in your marriage, then you must face the fact that your low level of commitment has contributed to your desire to walk away from the marriage.
- Are You Threatening Divorce To Get Your Way? There are countless situations in marriage where one or both spouses resorts to manipulation in order to get their way on any particular disagreement they may be having. Threatening divorce is cruel and hurtful to the marriage relationship. It says, “Give me my way or watch me walk away.” This is not a true love relationship with give and take on both sides. This is a relationship based on whoever gets their way - no matter the cost - wins.
- Have You Considered the Effect Your Divorce Will Have? People are so quick to get a divorce and move on, that they forget or don’t even realize the effect that such an action has on those around them, those who are most closely connected to you as a couple, especially children. Have you considered what divorce will do to their world? They have no control, no say over your decision, and yet, they are expected to comply with shared custody, moving back and forth several times a month so that you and your spouse can be apart. Have you also considered the financial effects of divorce? It is a decision that could affect your financial security for years to come.
- Do You Both Want A Divorce? Sometimes, it is just one spouse who wants a divorce while the other spouse is either clueless about the level of dissatisfaction in the marriage or truly wants to work on the marriage. If one person wants a divorce without any desire for reconciliation, then it leaves the other spouse in a very difficult spot, without many options but to move forward with the divorce.
- What Made You Love Your Spouse In The First Place? After you get married and get into a rhythm of life with careers, children, family, hobbies, and other activities, it is easy (and quite common) to find you have grown apart. You realize that the intimacy just isn’t there. But you can ask yourself when the intimacy stopped and remember all that you loved about your spouse in the first place. Another common difficulty is not knowing how to reconnect after your children have left the nest. This is a wonderful time to rediscover the love you had for each other by participating in similar activities and spending time talking through some of the struggles you’ve been facing.
- Have You Seen A Counselor or Mediator? If you or your spouse are on the fence, why not agree to talk with a counselor or mediator to try to bridge the gap on issues that require immediate attention.
There are probably hundreds of different ways you can rekindle the romance you once experienced and enjoyed with your spouse, but here are a few ways that we think your marriage would benefit.
- Purpose To Spend Time Together. It is common for couples to be married and yet, to lead very separate lives. Become interested in activities and hobbies that your spouse is interested in, take walks together, eat your meals together, plan a day trip to another city and plan it according to what you know will please your spouse.
- Plan A Weekend Getaway. There are wonderful places to get away together, but you might also looking specifically for organizations that host marriage retreats, where the focus is to rekindle the spark in your marriage.
- Listen. When two people have been married for so long, they often complete each other’s thoughts and sentences. But look at and listen to your spouse as though you were dating again. Find out who they are today. Don’t be a know-it-all.
We wanted to share some alternative ideas to getting a divorce, but we realize that not all situations are so cut and dry. If you are still interested in contacting us for a free consultation, we would be more than happy to talk with you about the best way to proceed from here.