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Should I Get A Divorce? How To Know For Sure

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should I get a divorce
Heartbreak

Nothing's worse than not knowing.

You’ve lived through too many broken promises. You have carried more than your share of the weight of the family for far too long. The thought of spending the rest of your life like this — married to a man whom you no longer love, or even respect — is soul-crushing.

You find yourself contemplating, "should I get a divorce?" And you not only want a divorce, you feel like you need one to survive.

Yet, your husband is not a bad guy. He’s a good father. He didn’t have an affair. He’s not an alcoholic or a drug addict. On some level, you still care about him. There’s no “reason” you should get a divorce... except that you want to.

You want to leave, but you’re afraid to go. You can’t stay, but going might not be the right choice. You’re stuck.

While everyone knows that going through a divorce is horrible, being stuck in a marriage that is wrong (but not “wrong enough” to leave) is its own kind of hell. You know that getting divorced will affect every aspect of your life, and every aspect of your kids’ lives as well. You don’t want to make the wrong decision. But what’s the right decision?

And every day you ask yourself, "Should I get a divorce?" and you never have a definitive answer. If you stay married, nothing changes, and your life sucks. If you get divorced, everything changes, and your life might still suck... maybe even more. Plus, there are no guarantees. You could trade the devil you know, and find that the devil you didn’t think about is even worse.


RELATED: 11 Signs You're Going To Get Divorced (Before You Even Marry Him)


The truth is that you can analyze the problems in your marriage until your brain explodes, and you are not going to know for sure whether you should stay married or get a divorce. That’s because deciding whether to stay married (or not) is not simply a rational decision.

There is a science to deciding whether or not to divorce. While you may think that what makes this decision so difficult is the fact that it is a very emotional decision, neuroscience has shown that all decision-making is emotionally based.

A study of people who had damage to the part of their brain which generates emotions found that those people couldn’t make even the simplest decisions. That might seem like good news for anyone trying to decide whether to get divorced. After all, few things in this world are more emotional than divorce.

A lot of things can make you get stuck. But when it comes to divorce, two of the biggest things that will keep you stuck are fear and inner conflict. When fear or inner conflict are holding you back, making a decision about whether to get a divorce is not as simple as writing a list of pros and cons and seeing which list is longer. 

What you need is a process that will help you resolve your conflict, deal with your fear, and move forward — one way or another. One of the best tools for making a decision as important as divorce, is the “WRAP” process. WRAP was developed by Chip and Dan Heath, two brothers who are academic professionals at Stanford and Duke University. “WRAP” means:

  • W: Widen your options
  • R: Reality test your assumptions
  • A: Attain distance before deciding
  • P: Prepare to be wrong

1. Widen your options.

While you may think that you are choosing between staying married and getting divorced, the truth is, there are a world of options in between those two extremes.

You could stay married forever but live separately. You could do a “controlled separation,” for a specific period of time while you work on your marriage. Or, you can continue to live together, but change your marriage to an open marriage, which would allow you to date other people.

Whether you like these options is not the point. What matters is that once you realize that your choices are not simply between the status quo, and total change, your decision starts to seem less monumental.


RELATED: Zodiac Signs Who Are Most Likely To Get A Divorce, Ranked From Most To Least


2. Reality test your assumptions.

Before jumping head first into divorce, find out what being divorced will really look like. Talk to people who are divorced. Find out what their lives are like now. Learn from professionals what the divorce process involves: how long it takes, how much it costs, and what it really entails. Try to get the big picture.

Finally, talk to people who were thinking of divorce but stay married. Look at how their decision worked out for them. While everyone’s story is different, getting information from professionals, and from others who have faced divorce themselves, can keep you from making mistakes out of ignorance. This will also give you a better idea of what you are really facing when you are thinking of divorce (or not).

3. Attain distance before deciding.

When you find yourself paralyzed by conflicting emotions, try using the 10/10/10 rule. Ask yourself, “If I divorce, how will I feel about that decision 10 minutes from now? How about 10 months from now? What about 10 years from now?”

Then, do the same thing but ask yourself how you will feel if you stay married. Think about your priorities in life. Which decision will align better with your priorities, now and in the future?

Distancing yourself from the emotions you feel in the moment can seem like an impossible task. But by projecting the results of your decision into the future, you can get some distance from the emotions that are keeping you stuck in the present.

4. Prepare to be wrong.

Think about the best and worst case scenarios for each decision. What are your biggest fears if you get divorced? What is the worst that could happen to you? Maybe your worst case scenario is that you would have no money, no home, no relationship, and you would have to start all over again.

Now, what is your best divorce scenario? Maybe you would be free, happy, financially stable and even in a great relationship with someone else! Ask yourself the same questions about staying married. Then, see what resonates with you more. Preparing yourself for the worst case scenario allows you to stretch your sense of what the future might bring and gives you more perspective on your fears.

No matter what process you use, deciding whether or not to end your marriage is never easy. That’s why so many people hang on the fence for years, or decades. Some stay there for a lifetime.

But while making a decision means that you risk being wrong, NOT making a decision means that you will never have the chance to be right. You won’t be focused on making your marriage better, and you won’t be leaving to create a better life. It is the one choice that is guaranteed to make you miserable.


RELATED: 16 Subtle Warning Signs Of Divorce Even The SMARTEST People Miss


Still can’t figure it out? Call Karen for a free 20-minute consultation. To get more advice about deciding to divorce (or not) check out: I Don’t Want to Stay Married But I’m Afraid to Get Divorced!

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