Should You Divorce? 5 Important Steps To Figure Out If It's Time

Getting divorced is a big decision.

Last updated on Mar 05, 2024

man in hat looking somber unsplash / Jakob Owens

When you entered your marriage, you never thought about getting a divorce. But, now, you are. "Is my marriage over? Should I get a divorce?" You’ve been thinking it over. And over. Your mind spins with the possible ripple effects it will have on your life. Getting a divorce is — without question — one of the biggest and hardest decisions you’ll ever make.

But how do you know the signs your marriage is over? When is it time to divorce? We’ve all heard the saying, "You’ll know when you know." Everyone knows sooner or later, but there are two different ways you can get there: conscious and unconscious. Making a conscious decision to initiate divorce is by far the better approach. The unconscious path involves continuing to live as you always have, tolerating life the way it is, and feeling like a hostage, but not knowing what to do about it.


You may even be hoping your spouse will become so unhappy in your married life that they’ll make the call. This path almost always leads to a breaking point and an impulsive decision that instantly implodes the family. The conscious path is a more deliberate process. If you choose this method, you will most likely "know when you know" sooner and the result is more conviction and less chaos. So, when you're seeing signs your marriage is over, how do you consciously decide when to initiate divorce?

RELATED: Getting Divorced Saved My Life: 3 Critical Things I Learned

Should you divorce? Take these 5 important steps to figure out if it's time:

1. Identify your ultimate goal

What needs to be accomplished before you initiate a divorce? Break your goals down into smaller pieces and figure out what can you do on a daily basis to work toward them.


​2. Identify your fears and insecurities

What are the top three things you’re afraid will happen after you get divorced? How are these fears holding you back from making a decision? What are the consequences of remaining fearful?



RELATED: 8 Glaring Signs Of An Unhappy Marriage That's Likely Headed Straight For Divorce

3. Distinguish your assumptions from the facts

Emotions tend to cloud our thinking and reasoning. It’s imperative to weed out your emotions, so you can focus on what’s really going on. What resources do you need to help you break down the factual components of your decision?


4. Educate yourself as much as possible

What are the legal, financial, and emotional costs and processes of divorce?



RELATED: 10 Small-But-Crucial Things Your Divorce Attorney Wishes You Knew

5. Consider the impact of your decision in the next month, year, and seven years out

Visualize what will happen as you go through the divorce proceedings and how life may change for you and your family afterward. Consider the smallest decisions that can have a larger-than-expected impact later on. At this point, you will probably have a better picture of where you are with your decision:

  • Stuck? You're just not ready to give adequate thought to the above ideas. You still don’t "know that you know" yet. Which step is causing the most hesitation? Who can help you? Don’t remain stuck. Get support, instead.
  • Overwhelmed? If the steps seem like too much work and you’d rather jump right into the action, it’s probably an impulsive decision. Have poorly thought-out decisions worked for you in the past? Consider the magnitude of this one.
  • Relieved? If the steps have helped, you likely have a clearer idea of what you honestly want to happen. Do you know what you need to do next?

I can’t overemphasize how important it is to allow yourself the time and space to pick apart your decision to initiate divorce. Ending a relationship will start a cascade of many more decisions, actions, and consequences. It will all have a much better outcome if you’ve taken the time to look at things with an objective eye. The clearer you are on your decision, the fewer scary twists and turns you’ll encounter on the upcoming roller coaster ride!

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

Debra Block is a certified divorce coach who helps her customers manage their divorce, refers them to helpful attorneys, and offers support.