The Simple Way To Decide If You Should Get Divorced Or Not

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husband and wife with backs to each other

When you've been unhappy in your marriage for a long time, it’s natural to ask yourself: should I get a divorce?

You may fantasize that leaving your relationship would solve all your problems.

The problem is that divorce doesn’t come with a happiness guarantee.

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So if you're wondering, "Should I get a divorce?", consider these seven tips to help you decide what's right for you and your relationship.

1. Look for patterns — not just problems.

If your spouse got trashed at a party last night and embarrassed you in front of everyone, you definitely need to talk about that.

But if this is the tenth time your spouse has seriously over-imbibed in the past three months and is unwilling to change, chances are you're dealing with a much bigger issue.

If your spouse doesn’t see his or her behavior patterns as a problem, it's time for you to move on.

2. Make sure you're both willing to work on the marriage.

Your marriage is not going to magically improve. If you aren’t willing to work on your marriage, it’s not going to get better. If your spouse doesn’t see a problem or isn’t willing to work on your marriage, then it's not likely things will change.

If you're both willing to put in the time and effort it takes to build a marriage that works, it's worth giving it shot. But if your spouse refuses to acknowledge issues and continues doing the problematic behavior anyway, a divorce might be your best option.

3. Identify your deal-breakers.

Some differences in values just can’t be reconciled.

For example, if you desperately want kids but your spouse is absolutely dead-set against ever having them, that’s a deal-breaker.

While you may be able to persuade your spouse to change his/her mind if you promise to take care of the kid yourself 100 percent of the time, the bottom line is: In the end, one of you has to give in. Either you have a kid, or you don’t.

If the source of your conflict with your spouse revolves around a deal-breaker, the odds of you working it out are pretty slim because resentment could set in (if it hasn't already). Divorce will help you move on and focus on your goals in a healthier way.

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4. Take your time.

No one wants to be stuck in an unhappy marriage, but getting divorced is no picnic either!

You may be considering staying and trying to work it out, or at least bide your time until you're sure divorce is the right choice.

If your spouse just crossed a line that you can never overlook, however, like physical abuse, don't stick around. It's worth it to take time to sort through your feelings and consider all your options before you demand a divorce, but if you're in danger, go.

5. Listen to your heart.

Oddly enough, most people who divorce still have feelings for their spouse on some level. While they may no longer be “in love,” they may have “loving feelings” toward their spouse.

What you are looking for here, therefore, is not love — it’s disgust.

If you're so beyond loving your spouse that you can’t even stand to listen to him/her breathe, you’re on a one-way road to divorce, so make the decision for the sake of your own happiness.

6. Take a look at your finances.

Divorce is emotional, but pure emotions should never be the primary driving force behind your decision. It may sound cold, but you need to take a good, long and realistic look at your finances before you decide to divorce.

The average contested divorce costs between $15,000 and $30,000 USD. So you either divorce amicably or get your checkbook ready.

If you don’t have enough money for the divorce process, or you can’t survive without your spouse’s income, you need to do some solid financial planning first and decide whether you want to divorce later.

7. Look at all your options.

It's impossible to know whether the divorce will be a good decision for you unless you know your options. Where will you live? Can you sell your house? Should you? Where will your kids live? How often will you see them? What will their life look like?

Are there ways you can get through your divorce without fighting (too much)? What are they? What do they cost?

Consult an attorney, financial advisor, or divorce expert to know what options you have and what's reasonable for you and your family.

RELATED: How To Tell If You Should Get A Divorce Or Try To Save The Marriage

Karen Covy is a divorce advisor, lawyer, and coach. To get more divorce advice from Karen, check out her website here.