Thinking about getting a divorce is a huge step and one of the most stressful life experiences that you can go through. According to Holmes and Rahe's stress scale, divorce is the second most stressful life event after the death of a spouse.
So, how do you know whether you should go for it or not?
I have put together a few questions to consider which might help you reach the right decision. Answer honestly, write down your first thought and don't think too long about each question:
1. Did you love your partner when you were first married?
2. Why did you get married?
3. Do you love your spouse now?
4. Why are you still married?
5. How do you and your partner get along?
6. What do you and your spouse have in common?
7. What do you like most about your partner?
8. What do you like least about him or her?
9. How does your spouse treat you?
10. How would you like to be treated?
11. How do you treat him or her?
12. When were you happiest in this marriage, and why?
13. Are you happy in this relationship right now?
14. What would you like to change or improve in this marriage?
15. Do you think it's possible to improve your marriage? Why or why not?
16. What have you done personally to make your relationship better?
17. What are your greatest fears about staying married?
18. What are your greatest fears about divorcing?
19. Do you have children? What role do they play in your choice?
20. Overall, what does your gut, or intuition, tell you to do about your marriage?
Do any of your answers surprise you? What is your overall realization? Write one sentence to express what you're feeling and thinking.
When facing a confusing or challenging issue, it often helps to write down feelings and ideas quickly without stopping to edit or question them. This keeps the unconscious mind moving and your beliefs surfacing. Use this technique in the following exercises to discover your deepest thoughts and feelings.
Begin with the expression "I feel.." and if you get stuck, write "I feel..." again and keep writing. Don't censor yourself or edit your work. Just be totally honest. Stop when you feel complete or finished with the issue.
1. What do I feel about my current relationship and partner?
In questions two and three, begin with the words "I want" and write fast. If you pause or get stuck, just write "I want" and begin again. Don't worry about practicality or reality. Imagine that you have all the choices and resources you need. Just write your heart's desire about the relationship and the life you want. End when it feels complete.
2. What do I want in a relationship?
3. Ideally, what kind of life do I want to be living?
Reading your words becomes a concrete confirmation that you are beginning to make a decision that is completely your own. This discovery can be exhilarating, and at the same time, frightening. Everything you have thought to be true may now be in question. Allow these feelings to surface before, during, and after writing in your journal. Notice if your existing marriage has the qualities you listed for an ideal relationship, or if it does not. Take in this realization.
Finally, is it possible for you and your partner to change, for the relationship to come closer to what you want? Write your immediate response of "yes" or "no". Then write quickly how this can or cannot happen.
When finished, reread your response. How are you doing emotionally? Be aware of your feelings. Perhaps take a break. Lie down, have some tea, go for a walk, do whatever would be supportive right now. Let the realizations come and go. It may help to say phrases such as, "Everything I'm discovering is creating my greatest good. I trust my inner voice and know all is well."
If your answers to these questions indicate there are problems in your marriage, and even that you want a separation or divorce, you may not want to take immediate action. It isn't rational to initiate a divorce based on one questionnaire. What you can do, however, is think about your responses, keep writing, take the survey again, and see how you feel in a week or two. In the meantime, you can also talk with a therapist, a friend, or colleague, someone who is going to listen attentively to you. It helps to process all your realizations in writing or verbally, and fully express your truthful feelings.
Recommended reading: Conscious Divorce, Susan Allison