Hardly anyone can be 100% sure that a divorce is an absolute must in the moment. When thinking about getting a divorce, many people feel torn apart – on the one hand, they have a lot to lose, and on the other, they strongly do not feel like remaining with their partner. If the husband is the first to ponder the idea of getting divorced, and is met with an emotional reaction from his unsuspecting wife, he will often be rather flustered as to how to proceed. Some may find that they themselves have made up their mind about the divorce, but can't shake trepidation caused by the wife's meltdown and the potential impact on the children. To get married, both the man and the woman need to agree and want it. Meanwhile, getting divorced requires only one of the parties to desire it. A divorce can indeed be granted in cases where one spouse wants it while the other doesn't. Therefore, the important thing is for you to make up your mind.
Usually, people who are contemplating divorce are living in a failing relationship, where each member has a number of complaints and pet peeves about the other. Both partners irritate each other, snap and have fights, but are stuck in a relationship because of corollary factors like children, house, shared lifestyle and future plans. It is difficult to go your separate ways when you are tied together by so many things, and in constant conflict to boot. Each of you may think that somehow the problems will sort themselves out. But they never do. Divorce is one of the most stressful events in human life. And people generally try to avoid stress. In order to minimize the negative impact, people may feel that the less they think about the problem, the less traumatic the experience will be. In the case of divorce, this is obviously untrue. When in a hurry, you are prone to make poorly thought through decisions and not foresee possible pitfalls. As a result, divorcing couples find themselves unprepared for the emotional seesaw and the drastic lifestyle changes they go through.
In an attempt to deal with the divorce as quickly as possible, couples do not think it through well enough to leave the marriage with psychological "closure". Doing a rush job, people leave feelings and thoughts unaddressed. On the other hand, being honest with yourself and your partner, and working through the dilemmas at hand, prepares both spouses for the challenge of moving on in life.
If you are aware that a divorce should be well thought out, you can make an informed decision after you and your partner get prepared for it in all possible ways. You need to get ready for the divorce emotionally, financially, and practically.
The biggest mistake is to begin a divorce unprepared. Consequences will impact the whole family and will last a lifetime, whereas emotional unpreparedness will hamper the process and exacerbate the struggle. Should you enter the divorce process unprepared, you will find yourself embroiled in a bitter battle over your children, property, finances, pets – the list is endless. In order to avoid fear, blame, and the dragging out of the divorce, each spouse should prepare themselves for it by figuring out the following eight issues.
1. Pay attention to your feelings for your wife
The first thing to do is to see if you still love your wife. Love is a complicated feeling, and can take many forms and disguises. In order to make a decision, you need first to unravel the ambivalent bundle of emotions you may or may not harbor towards your wife. If you notice that there are many strong feelings bubbling around in your mind, you're better off dealing with them first. You may have been living under the impression that there is nothing left between the two of you than resentment and irritation. However, these strong emotions usually indicate that there is something left, and you have to work it out. In order to divorce in a rational and effective manner, you need to make an unemotional decision. If you feel rage, anger and hatred toward your wife, the odds are it will take you years to work through these feelings. Therefore, do it now, before the divorce.
Just acknowledging the feelings you are struggling with can help you understand what to do next. Start thinking about the divorce only after you have detached from your wife emotionally. Try to say, "I acknowledge that you are a different person with your own hopes and desires, and I respect that, but I do not want to be married to you." If you can easily say this statement, if it rolls off the tongue naturally, it suggests that your attachment to your wife is under control and you can expect not to have hard feelings about the divorce.
2. Try to analyze your relationship in terms of issues
Your marriage obviously has been struggling with some issues. Try to pinpoint what it is exactly that prompts you to seek divorce. If you are facing a 'hard' problem, such as adultery or addiction, then the damage done exceeds the potential good a saved marriage could bring you. So it makes sense to divorce, if that is your intention.
If, however, you think that the reason for divorce is the fact that you "fell out of love" with each other, lost intimacy and pleasant communication, and believe that you can give nothing to each other, these issues are 'soft' and can be dealt with. There's a decent chance you are reacting to the feeling of being unloved, uncared for, and ignored. However, these issues can be resolved in therapy – though only if both spouses show a willingness to work on the marriage. As soon as you recognize that the underlying problems are the feelings of being criticized, ignored, and isolated, you can figure out how to address them. If at the bottom of your heart you feel that you have feelings for your wife and want to divorce her because of certain issues, try to deal with the issues first and then return to contemplating divorce.
3. Make sure you are not just threatening your wife with a divorce
On the one hand, divorce may seem like the easiest way out. When problems seem insurmountable, you may feel tempted to dream of divorce out of anger and frustration. On the other hand, divorce can be a powerful tool that shakes people up and makes them rethink their relationship. You may feel inclined to loft up the idea of divorce in arguments to gain control over your wife and get her to do things the way you want. However, you should understand that you can use divorce as a wake-up call only for a limited number of times. Even if you get the intended effect on your wife, and she gets scared and acts the way you want her to, sooner or later she will recognize it as a manipulative tactic and will trust you even less than before.
In contrast, if you can think about divorce in a calm, composed manner, and are not putting excess blame on yourself or your wife, you are probably ready to proceed. Check whether you are ready or not by thinking something along these lines: "There is nothing more left that I can give to this relationship, so I want to finish this part of my life peacefully." If you agree with this statement and can say it about yourself, chances are you can bring up the topic of divorce to your wife.
4. Make sure that you do not have any agenda in divorce other than separation
When ending a failing marriage, it is possible that, in the back of your mind, there's the idea that your wife, who did not appreciate you or treated you badly, will finally see what she has lost. Or you simply want to retaliate for the wrongs she did to you. The only goal of divorce should be to end a marriage. Any other purpose signals that your motives are skewed and, perhaps paradoxically, will hurt you too. It is not up to you to teach your wife a lesson, whatever the wrongs she did to you are.
Similarly unrealistic is to expect that your life will magically change after the divorce. If you think that it was your wife who withheld the beauty of life from you, you are probably laboring under a misapprehension. The best way to leave a marriage is for the sake of yourself and new opportunities in general. Those who leave for new lovers often find their expectations too idealistic.
5. Sort out your ambiguous feelings about the divorce
The scientific literature on divorce is controversial at times, and public opinion on the matter differs. You can feel guilty for leaving a wife who is opposed to the idea of divorce, and for subsequently bringing up your children in a 'broken home.' At the same time, the rational part of you understands that raising children in an atmosphere that is devoid of love and compassion is worse.
One problem with divorce is that each party can see both advantages and disadvantages in it. By honestly acknowledging all the aspects of divorce, you get yourself ready for it. For example, you may want a divorce with all your heart and see it as a way out of the struggle you and your wife are having. But at the same time, you may find yourself lacking the inner strength to start up that conversation. Check your condition by listing all the reasons for divorce. If at some point you find yourself overcome with feelings of guilt and shame, and your mind is pierced by thinking that your wife is a great mother who does not deserve that, then you should take a second think things over. A strong emotional attitude about how a divorce is unacceptable will not simply "go away". Perhaps your father left your mother and you made a promise to yourself that you would never be a man like him. Or you come from a religious background and believe that divorce is a failure of you as a believer and as a father. These are just two possibilities of many. Whatever the reason, you need to understand your own attitude and eventually come to terms with it.
This does not necessarily mean that as soon as you pinpoint the conflict, you will overcome it and divorce your wife immediately. Rather, it is by weighing your options and innermost desires that you can realize what is most important for you. For example, after a period of contemplation, you have come to the realization that you can't bring yourself to broach the subject to your wife because you do not want to be a 'homewrecker' in the eyes of your children. You have a right to value your self-image over your desire to 'break free.' This is an issue of your values and priorities. When you are aware of that inner need of yours, you can find arrangements that will help you deal with issues in your marriage. As soon as you recognize the conflict at the heart of your reluctance to start discussing divorce with your spouse, you will be able to address it and find a solution.
6. Get ready to handle the unpleasant consequences of divorce
One of the hardest realizations of an oncoming divorce is the loss of a dream. Pretty much everyone wants to be happy in a marriage. Till the very last moment, you may have tried to maintain the image of a 'happy family' but the divorce process puts an end to that, and it is difficult for all members of the family.
It is great if you have friends and relatives who can support you. However, you cannot ignore the fact that divorce can become a polarizing event in your close circle, and you may lose a number of friends because of it. As the initiator of the divorce, you need to be ready to face the consequences and blame that other family members will hurl on you. You will see your wife, your children and probably some of your family and friends in pain, as a couple getting divorced affects an extended circle of people. Therefore, you need to be emotionally and at least verbally ready to hold on to your decision to end a failing marriage.
There are several aspects that will change regardless, and your readiness for these changes signals determines whether you are ready to bear the consequences of the divorce.
So, get ready for:
- - changes in your financial situation and lifestyle;
- - negative emotions from your children and wife, such as anger, hatred, sadness, and frustration;
- - your own negative emotions, such as fear, guilt, shame, insecurity, and frustration;
- - separation from your wife emotionally, financially, and physically.
Think through each of these points long and hard. Try to imagine your life after divorce: how you see your children, whether they come visit or live part-time with you, how you will get by in a one-income household, spending holidays apart from your wife; doing household chores on your own or getting help from paid services; whether you can find the words to explain to your children the changes that are taking place; possibly attending a counselor or therapist to deal with your emotions.
Give yourself time to work through each of the points. Along the way, you might change your decision to divorce, or you might develop the skills necessary to live on your own. The main thing for you to remember is that none of the points will sort itself on its own. You need to address all of them. Otherwise, you will be unprepared when the time comes.
7. Develop a mature approach to the subject of divorce and your life
You are the chief person in your life, and you need to place your needs at the center. However, as the husband and father of the family, you need to strike a delicate balance between your needs and the needs of other family members. You don't want to sacrifice your own well-being and sanity for the family – on the other hand, you mustn't trample other people's needs for the sake of your dreams. Your task is to develop a position of strength and power so that you can help other family members rather than expect them to help you. Do not start a divorce process if you are feeling weak, bitter, and reveng eful.
It is wise and effective to develop an attitude that will help you negotiate the conditions of the divorce in such a way that both your needs and the needs of your wife and children needs are met. Do your best to do good for everyone; work out solutions effective for everyone. Try to protect your rights and respect your wife's rights as well. Try to avoid turning to the court or doing so only when you absolutely have to.
It is possible to collaborate in a divorce and respect each other's rights. Children should be a top priority, so try to develop parenting plans in a manner suitable, first of all, for the children. Additionally, stay focused and do not slack off during the divorce process. Many people seek out pleasures and various relaxing activities under stress. However, you cannot reduce suffering and pain by indulging in pleasures alone. You need to concentrate your attention on the task and be a rock for your children.
8. Be ready to reassure your wife
You should be firm and consistent in your decision. Given that you had some apprehensions before announcing your desire to your wife, you must have suspected that your wife would not agree or would think that it is still possible to mend things. Find words to explain to your wife that you have made up your mind and that it is going to happen, but it will be better for all of you. Stress the need to cooperate in developing the best solutions for parties involved. In more difficult cases, you can enlist a therapist to work together with. Informing your wife of the divorce in a therapist's office will give you space, and could absorb her negative feelings for some time.
Even if you want to proceed immediately, give your wife time to process the news and come to terms with it. Try not to press her or demand a quick response. However, it is beneficial to outline a time frame within which you expect her to accept the situation. Remember that you took time to make this decision, so your wife needs time as well. At the same time, you need to understand that one of the major emotions in your wife now is probably fear. She may be at a loss as to how she will live and support the children, and what will happen to the house. Especially if your wife is a stay-at-home mom, you need to understand that insecurity regarding her future can be a crippling feeling. Obviously, you are not obliged to support your wife after divorce romantically or emotionally, but you can reassure her that you will provide financial help for the children.
Reassure your wife that the children are your number one priority. Say that she has time to figure out her future and that you will do your best to divide joint assets in a fair manner. To make sure that everything will go as planned, you can plan out everything beforehand and write a script or bullet point outline for yourself. Do not get sidetracked in discussions about the past, and the mistakes both of you may have made. Do not blame your wife. Now is not the time to argue. Keep focused on your reasons for leaving and your expectations, which are separation and divorce. You should clearly visualize how you are going to proceed. For example, immediate separation, working out the details and then divorce. It makes no sense to discuss divorce and then get back to normal as if nothing happened. This will disorient your wife and give her false hope that the marriage has been salvaged.
One realization is critical above all: if it is fear or an unwillingness to experience and inflict pain that is keeping you in this marriage, these barriers are probably fraudulent. In many instances, a close examination of each fear can eliminate it.
The easiest way is probably to work on your motivation and true desires with a therapist. However, you can also get to the bottom of things on your own, using introspection to check on your feelings about getting divorced or staying in the marriage. Write down all your reasons for both options. Look through your points and see whether they are driven by fear or are goal-oriented. For example, if you write, "I'm staying in this thing because I'm afraid of not seeing my children every day" or "I'm afraid to look bad in my children's eyes,' these motivations are driven by fear and can be dealt with.
It is natural, and very kind of you, to care about your close ones and be unwilling to hurt them. However, you can live a harmonious life only when you balance others' needs with your own needs. By thinking through the decision to divorce long and hard and by taking care of the negative consequences, you take care of those who depend on you most.