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One of the most common questions readers ask me is, “Should I get a divorce?” These three reasons for divorce summarize a wide range of marriage problems. Read through these, and tell me if you think you should get divorced.
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“I have been feeling desperate, sad, depressed, everything since my husband left me,” says Ally on How to Cope When Your Husband Leaves You. “I’m getting professional therapy and it has helped me a lot to get through this nightmare. My therapist says that I should not ask for the divorce yet, since she advises me that the affair is not going to last and that he is having a middle age crisis. She thinks this is not a reason for divorce and I should wait. But he treats me like dirt and I feel he doesn’t deserve me. I should not wait for him to realize how much I care about him and love him. I have read so many articles about the affairs and that they do not last, but the wait time is at least two years!!! I cannot imagine myself waiting for him that long, he doesn’t deserve me or our kids. Should I wait because at the end it might be worth it or should I get a divorce???”
My first thought is that a therapist should NEVER tell you that you should not get a divorce!
Find a counselor who does not give advice
If you’re in therapy and your therapist is telling you what to do with your life, get a new counselor. A therapist’s job is NOT to give advice or answer the Should I Get a Divorce question for you. How do I know this? I was in counseling for 10 months with a smart, valuable counselor who never once gave me advice. And I have a Master of Social Work (MSW) and have taken several counseling courses.
Counselors should never tell you what decisions to make in your life. Rather, they should teach you how to listen to your heart and make smart decisions so you can answer the Should I Get a Divorce? Question on your own. You need to learn how to assess the various reasons for divorce, and decide what you need to do with your life. Your therapist’s job is to give you tools that you can use for all life decisions – not just if you should get divorced or not – and teach you how to trust yourself.
Below, I share my thoughts on when you should get divorced. I’d never tell a wife to wait indefinitely while her husband finishes his affair – but I would encourage her to trust her gut and do what she thinks is right.
Should You Get Divorced? Reasons for Divorce
In Considering Divorce? Signs You Should Leave Your Husband, I list several general reasons for divorce (eg, mistreatment, lack of respect, unmet needs, etc). It’s important to remember that nobody can answer the “Should I get a divorce” question for you, but you might gain clarity and insight by reading through these reasons for divorce.
Here are a few more specific reasons for divorce…
You have tried and failed to solve your marriage problems as a couple
Have you and your husband gone to marriage counseling together? Or at the very least, have you gone to a marriage encounter weekend, read books about reviving a failing marriage, or learned how to solve the problems that lead to divorce? If you and your husband haven’t tacked the reasons for divorce together as a couple, then maybe it’s too early to even think about getting divorce.
If your husband is having an affair, then he is clearly not interested in saving your marriage. And that means you are free to consider getting divorced. Infidelity is a very good reason for divorce! But, if your husband has stopped the affair and is desperate and sincere about saving your marriage, then you might put the Should I Get a Divorce? Question on hold until you have tried to save your marriage. You owe yourself – and your family – that.
You’ve been struggling with marriage problems for a long time
I’m not listing the obvious reasons for divorce (abuse, disrespect, neglect, abandonment, alcohol or drug abuse, gambling issues, lying, cheating, stealing, etc). Rather, I ask you to decide for yourself if you truly have a reason for divorce. Why are you thinking about getting divorced? How long has this problem been going on? Who have you talked to about it? Sometimes happily married couples live with unresolved problems, such as different views on spirituality or religion. Other times, the unresolved problems are too big to overcome.
If you’ve been going over and over the same marriage problems for years – and you cannot continue to live this way – then maybe you should get divorced. Some marriage “problems” are just things we live with as married couples, such as forgetfulness or division of labor at home. Other problems are serious and should NOT be ignored, such as criticism, name-calling, lack of respect, etc.
Read Filing for Divorce? How to Prepare Yourself Emotionally if you think you should get divorced.
You can’t stay in this marriage the way it is – and you know it won’t change
Perhaps the number one reason for divorce is that you simply can’t stay married anymore. You’re exhausted. You know you can’t keep fighting, accepting, surrendering, and dealing with the same old marriage problems again and again. You’re tired of pushing, hoping, and trying to make things better.
I would decide that yes, I should get a divorce if I had dealt with a marriage issue for years and saw no improvement. I’m not talking about marriage issues that can’t be helped, such as misunderstandings, miscommunications, arguments that are resolved, or unresolved conflicts that are simply part of being married (eg, I’m a vegetarian who hates to cook, my husband loves his home cooked meat and potatoes).
What do you think – have you and your husband tried to work through your marriage problems? Can you see yourself living in this marriage – exactly the way it is right now – for the next 40 years?
If you’re thinking about couples therapy, read 4 Reasons Marriage Counseling Leads to Divorce.
I welcome your thoughts on these reasons for divorce, and invite you to share how you’re processing the “Should I Get a Divorce?” question. I can’t offer advice or counseling, but it may help you to write about what you’re going through.
May you find peace and wisdom in God’s presence. May you see His counsel and pray over your marriage. May you know with confidence and certainty if you should get divorced or stick with your marriage.