How To Know When To Get A Divorce & Give Up On Your Marriage

Photo: getty
couple deciding when to get a divorce
Heartbreak

If learning how to save your marriage is not working, perhaps it's time to figure out when to get a divorce and give up.

A married couple, Erin and Ben, came to me a few years ago for a process called Discernment Counseling, a counseling process developed to guide couples who are on the brink of divorce.

Usually, one or both partners are strongly considering ending the marriage.

RELATED: Should You Divorce? Take These 5 Important Steps To Figure Out If It's Time

In a vast majority of these cases, one spouse wants the divorce while the other spouse wants the opportunity to save the marriage and is willing to commit to marriage therapy.

Erin and Ben decided that reconciliation wasn’t the right path for them. It’s usually one person who leads this final decision, and in this case, it was Erin.

The last straw came when she found out Ben had an affair, which she did not know about previously.

I discontinued my services after providing resources for divorcing, and they began the process with legal counsel and hashing out their marital settlement agreement.

When deciding on if and how to save your marriage, "It ain’t over till it’s over."

According to the free dictionary, the idiom, "It ain’t over till it’s over" means, "The final outcome cannot be assumed or determined until a given situation, event, etc., is completely finished."

Its most frequent use is in reference to competitions, such as sporting events, political elections

Baseball legend Yogi Berra is the first to use the phase during the 1973 Baseball National League pennant race. His team was way behind, with a loss nearly certain. But they eventually turned things around and won the division title.

The team members rallied. They didn’t just give up because they were losing. They brought their best selves to the game, even when an undesired outcome was very likely.

The saying is often regurgitated in popular media and has also moved beyond competitions and into clarifying a relationship status.

There is wisdom and truth in it. It encourages people to wait — not make a judgment just yet because even with tremendous struggle and poor odds — the outcome still may turn around.

Many months after my last contact with them, I got a surprising call from Erin.

She had a change of heart and wished to halt the divorce process to try to reconcile and pursue marriage therapy. I was so curious to learn what gave her a change of heart.

What she relayed to me was incredibly valuable and validated some of the guidance I give to the spouse who is often desperate to save the marriage, but sometimes makes things worse unintentionally.

She began reconsidering her decision because of the way he treated her during the divorce process. He was kind, helpful, generous, caring, and he wanted to make sure she was safe and secure as a soon-to-be single mother of their two children.

He also expressed regret and remorse for not just the affair, but also some of his other behavior during their marriage.

Erin was blown away and felt a lot of love returning just from his handling of the separation, his consideration for her, and his genuine display of remorse.

RELATED: 3 Of The Most Common Reasons For Divorce — And How To Fix Them Before It's Too Late

You can't divorce yourself.

The other part of what Erin relayed to me validated the second piece of advice I give somebody strongly considering divorce. And that is, you can’t divorce yourself.

There’s tremendous potential to bring our own personal problem, negative personality trait, poor style of communication, and so on, into the next relationship.

Both partners need a deeper understanding of their role in what caused the marriage to end, and this is an important piece to figure this out. Erin told me that she often reflected on this fact.

The divorce rate is higher for second marriages.

Another statistic to remember is that the divorce rate for second marriages is around 60 percent. Not learning about yourself and your contribution to what’s happened in the first marriage is one of the reasons for this.

Another primary reason second marriages don’t succeed results from trying to "blend" two families, which often yields a new set of significant challenges to your post-divorce life.

The divorce rate for third marriages is even higher than for second marriages.

Reconciliation after divorce is initiated is rare, but possible — if you want it.

Erin and Ben reconciled and had a successful outcome from marriage therapy.

Now, I realize this is rare. In fact, according to available statistics, around 13 percent of people reconcile after separation, and six percent of divorced couples later remarry again.

Hence, 19 percent of couples stay together even after seriously considering divorce, separating, or finalizing their divorce.

Bring your best self to the marital crisis.

If you're the spouse who is desperately wanting to save your marriage but you have an unwilling partner, you must bring your best self to this marital crisis, even when an undesired outcome is likely.

You still have the opportunity to make the changes you likely promised when your spouse threatens divorce in the first place.

Reconciliation is still possible, even when it comes to divorce.

So, when should you stop trying to save your marriage? Remember, it ain’t over till it’s over — and even then, it ain’t always over!

RELATED: Why Leaving An Unhappy Marriage May Not Make You Any Happier

Sign Up for the YourTango Newsletter

Let's make this a regular thing!

Dr. Marni Feuerman is a skilled marriage therapist and discernment counselor. Check out her website and grab her free guide just for couples looking for help.

This article was originally published at The Talking Solution. Reprinted with permission from the author.

Author
Expert