If you want to avoid divorce, you will have to put forth the work to making it work.
Have you white knuckled it through the holidays so that you could get to the other side and make a decision about leaving your marriage? I have some thoughts for you, based on over a decade of working with couples. Too many people throw in the towel on marriages that could be rescued, if they only tried one or more of the ideas below.
Sit down with your partner and tell them just how unhappy you are. Let your partner know that you are considering divorce and that you are serious about it. I find that sometimes people keep their misery a secret, then hit their partner over the head with action. That isn't fair. You need to confide in your partner and let them know that you want the marriage to work, but things must change. Then lay out what you need to be different. Be prepared, though, to hear that your partner is equally miserable and that they want you to change as well!
2. Seek Religious Help
If you married in and practice a faith, schedule an appointment with your minister or rabbi. I have seen this work especially well if you and your spouse can sit down with the person who married you, but if you have a relationship with your church or temple leader, then meeting with him or her can be very helpful. No one wants to marry a couple with the thought that their marriage will dissolve. They may give you good support and advice for staying in and making your marriage better.
3. Talk To Family
Another idea is to seek out help from a close family member. Many couples keep their marital problems secret, only to shock everyone when they file for divorce. However, there may be a family member who would like to see the two of you succeed at your marriage, and who has wisdom for you. It may be one or both sets of parents, a sibling, or a treasured aunt or uncle. Be sure, though, to choose someone who will keep a confidence and who will support both of you.
4. Take A Break Together
Have someone take care of your children and use vacation days to work on your marriage. Go someplace without too much distraction — a quiet seaside town or mountain cabin is better than Vegas. Some couples find that a road trip is a good time to talk while others like to wait until they get to their destination. Set some ground rules, such as no yelling, or talking things out for an hour, then taking a walk or breaking bread at a meal. Take pads of paper, pens, and perhaps some inspirational material from which you can draw strength.
5. See A Therapist
If you are talking about divorce, you probably should have seen a therapist long ago. But even if you are hanging your toes over the edge of the abyss, an effective therapist can keep you from falling in. Go with an open mind. This is your emotional well-being, and the effects of divorce may be upsetting for a very long time. Decide that you will put aside thoughts of divorce for three months while the two of you make an honest and genuine effort to turn things around. If at the end of three months nothing has changed — you are fighting worse than ever, your trust is even less, you are still waking up with the thought, "I'm done" — then and only then should you consider divorce as a solution.
I have learned the only couples I cannot help are those in which one partner has already emotionally divorced their partner. They couldn't care less about what I or their spouse has to say. That's a person who has waited too long to get counseling of any type. Don't be one of them. If you loved your partner enough to go down the aisle, then you owe it to yourself and your partner to get help now.
It's important that you keep an open mind. Just think, this could be the year your marriage turns around, instead of going over the edge. Wouldn't that be nice?
More marriage therapist advice on YourTango:
- 7 Signs You Might Need Marriage Counseling
- My Parents Got Divorced; Is My Marriage Doomed?
- 10 Signs Your Marriage Is In Trouble