Couples decide to divorce for many different reasons and therefore are in different states of mind. Some are deeply traumatized over events in their marriage, some never felt they were in a marriage to begin with and others have just reached the point where they are just done and ready to move on.
Whatever the journey that led you to this point, for divorce to be a smooth, collaborative and respectful process, couples must be prepared and ready to separate their lives on almost every level; legally, practically and emotionally.
Not always easy! But often once couples have made the decision to divorce, the shift in mindset makes the pain more bearable and you are both better equipped to deal with the process of divorce. So ask yourself …
Do I want a divorce? Yes, I want a divorce!
It sounds obvious but you really need to dig deep and ask yourself if divorce is something you really want. If it is then you can let go of a lot of pain as you remove yourself emotionally from your marriage. But if you are still fighting with your spouse, you need to ask yourself is that because you still are holding onto the hope of saving your marriage?
Do you feel like you need to get a divorce to end this ‘so called marriage?’ How can you be sure? Some days you may feel more confident in your decision than others. A part of you may still love your spouse or at least care for them. But are you actually still in love with them? What if you have made a mistake? If these are the questions you are asking yourself then you shouldn’t rush anything.
Divorce is a big decision and a lot of people will be affected by what you decide so you have to be certain. If you are saying ‘everything would be fine if only they would just do x, y and z’ then perhaps you need to explore counseling or mediation before starting divorce proceedings. Difficult marriages can be fixed and do not necessarily have to mean the end of a marriage altogether.
If your position is that your partner is to blame for the demise of the marriage or they are ‘forcing’ you to get a divorce, then you are angry about how your spouse ’caused’ you to make this decision . ‘It’s all their fault’ you cry. Perhaps it is, but you are doing yourself no favors by avoiding taking responsibility for your role in the marriage and are creating a noise over the blame game as a distraction to your own fears and sadness. The divorce proceedings to follow will be riddled with tension and conflict, and a continuation of the blaming and shaming. If emotions are this raw then maybe you’re not ready to divorce, not just yet.
Divorce is often threatened, especially in heated marital arguments, out of anger and frustration. It can be a wake-up call to the fact that marriage is in peril. A cry to finally be taken seriously and to get your spouse’s attention. It can be deployed as a weapon to gain power and control over the other person, to get them to see things your way or else! So be clear, are you truly looking forward to life after divorce or are you just threatening your spouse?
To divorce your spouse means being able to reach a clear, unemotional decision that remains consistent over time. Divorce means being able to let go of all the emotional attachments to the other person you have formed over the course of your relationship, the loving ones as well as the hostile and hurtful types. Emotionally charged decisions are not always the most logical. Divorcing because you are angry will not cure your anger and may lead to regret down the line.
If you want a divorce it should be because you have taken a long, calm, rational decision that this in your best interests. All the fighting, blaming and point scoring that led to the demise of your marriage shouldn’t have the same emotional impact on you that it once did. You are ready to move on.
Signs you need a divorce.
Unless your marriage is the result of a drunken night in Vegas, it is unlikely you will go from wedded bliss to divorce overnight. You may have been the first one to say ‘I want a divorce’ or you may be the one who has simply heard that your spouse wants a divorce. It’s not easy to say and it’s not easy to hear.
Even though it may be shocking, it shouldn’t be a shock. Whether it’s dreading coming home after work or being emotionally absent, there should be signs you need a divorce and need to move on with your lives, separately. If you don’t see the signs, you can feel completely blindsided. Therefore you will need time to either explore the issues or come to terms with this massive bombshell.
Looking back you may see the signs were there, and in fact they were obvious. If you have set boundaries that your spouse disregards over finances, behavior, time together, whatever it is, then you have to make a decision over whether this is worth losing your relationship over or whether it is something you can let go and stop letting it bother you. But you can’t keep having the same fight forever and think it will result in a happy marriage.
Your partner should know what your boundaries are, how crossing them makes you feel and why it’s important to you. You cannot expect them to read your mind. You need to give them a chance to show that they can listen to you and meet your needs. This can save you a lot of grief and maybe even avoid a divorce in the first place.
Some boundaries are absolute deal breakers and you shouldn’t stay in a marriage that is violent or abusive.
Others, such as doing the dishes are perhaps not. You have to ask yourself …
is it more important to be right or be happy?
If these issues cannot be solved, managed or let go then perhaps that is a sign you need a divorce. If you wake up every day thinking ‘I wish to close a chapter of my life. There is no more that I can do or give to this marriage. I am at peace with this decision.’ Then that is a pretty solid indicator that you are not merely threatening, but are genuinely ready for divorce.
You know a divorce will not be a fun experience, no matter the circumstances, but if you can be ok with that, then that’s a strong sign you need a divorce. Especially if you have children and you know they will be upset or even angry with you for divorcing their parent. If in your mind you can resign yourself to the unavoidable, know that it won’t last forever and are not looking for ways to avoid pain but manage it, then you are probably ready for a divorce.
If you cannot accept the pain, uncertainty, change, insecurity that comes with divorce and are still invested mentally and emotionally in your spouse, what they are doing and what they are thinking, then that’s a sign you are probably not ready for a divorce and maybe need to take some more time to come to terms with your situation or maybe explore counselling.
Divorce can only do one thing and that’s end a marriage. In doing so each person is then free to live their own life, in their own way, with whoever they want. If that’s what you want for you and your spouse and you are willing to take control of your life in a responsible and mature way, then that’s a sign you need a divorce and are ready for a divorce.
If however, you are hoping that through the divorce the other person will change and start treating you better, realize what they may have lost or pay for how much they have harmed you, then you are getting a divorce for the wrong reasons. Divorce has no power to right wrongs nor switch people’s hearts and minds. If that’s how you feel then maybe divorce isn’t the right choice for you, at this point.
When is it time to divorce your husband or wife?
Even though you can start divorce proceedings right away, you don’t have to. You can take your time. Divorce is a process both legally and emotionally. When the time is right to legally divorce your spouse you will know because you will have first dealt with the emotional divorce.
Are you really ready for divorce? Do you still have thoughts for your spouse? Many people who say they want a divorce still have strong feelings for their partner, yet due to an ongoing power struggle in the relationship, there is a lack of intimacy and closeness. If it is you, it is best that you work on your emotional relationship prior to deciding to divorce otherwise your feelings of loss will overwhelm you and you may find yourself worse off after the divorce than you are now.
When the time is right for you to divorce your spouse you will have a lower emotional attachment to your soon to be ex. The divorce process shouldn’t be a rollercoaster of extreme feelings. You will no longer think of your spouse in the terms of ‘us’ or ‘we’ but two individuals meeting their own needs. You may have raised children and built a home together but your shared past is in the past and you are ready to start a new life and make new memories without the other person playing a significant role.
There was maybe a time when you were desperate to communicate more with your spouse, have them open up to you or feel they were really listening to you. But when you are not particularly invested in the ups and downs of their career because it doesn’t really impact on you in the way it used to. Or interested in what is going on in the lives of their friends. Nor have the need to have them hear what’s going on with you, then you probably have checked out emotionally and the time is right for you to proceed with the divorce.
I want a divorce but I’m scared.
The pressure to make the ‘correct decision’ is definitely enormous. You want the divorce but are wrestling whether or not it’s the right thing to do. Since going through the divorce impacts the lives of your children, as well as your life, your money and your home, you want to ‘get it right’.
Divorce brings change and grief because it is the loss of the ‘happy family’ ideal. Hurts, disappointments, loneliness, failure, rejection, inadequacy may all take hold of the psyche when we are in this extremely vulnerable passage. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that everything will work out perfectly in the end. All you can do is ensure you are making decisions that are considered and not driven by your ego.
There is fear. Of course there is. The fear of making a mistake and looking foolish, the fear of admitting your true feelings, the fear of being blamed or being seen to be the source of the conflict. But until you conquer that fear you will be stuck. When the divorce proceedings start you will be dragging, combative, and back and forth with not only yourself but with lawyers – which could be very expensive!
Everyone who goes through the divorce is conflicted. People can feel guilty whilst at the same time they can feel betrayed. Recognizing the conflict and owning that fact that different parts of you will be struggling with the impact of divorce, at different times, is part of the process of getting ready for divorce. You should prepare for the ups and downs and have a support system of family and friends who will be there to help you emotionally and practically when needed.
Whenever you feel nervous check with yourself that this is indeed a considered decision and not an emotionally reactive decision. Ask yourself what is your intention in wanting this divorce? Is this the right decision for you? Remember if you say ‘I want a divorce but I’m scared’, that is normal, but ultimately you have to be at peace with the decision you make. If you are questioning your decision then you have to figure out why. Is it normal nerves or is it something else? Only you can decide.
I want a divorce. Where do I start?
Most couples who start a divorce are unprepared and are often not even on the same page when they begin. It really is this lack of preparedness and readiness for a divorce that either causes marriages to end prematurely or divorces to deteriorate into competitive contests. The decision to obtain a divorce is one of the most crucial decisions a person can make, with consequences that last for years or a lifetime.
The waiting period for a divorce can range between one month to one year + depending on your state.
A decision this important requires much greater attention than perhaps spouses want to give. There is a natural tendency for people who are in difficult marriages to want to get the divorce over with as quickly as possible in order to move on with their lives. But a couple who take the time to prepare for their divorce can eliminate most of the emotional and financial struggles that cause divorces to become adversarial and ruthless.
Couples who rush to leave the marriage have had no time to evaluate their emotions, thoughts or options. As a result, they are unprepared for the rollercoaster of emotions, the complicated legal system and the large number of life changing decisions that they need to make.
Quite often they reach agreements which they cannot sustain, and instead of the situation getting better, they often find that they have just traded one set of problems for another. Before you know it your quick divorce is tangled up in lengthy court cases.
Can you and your spouse firstly agree that you no longer want to be married and move beyond the point where you are emotionally reactive to their right to live as a person in their own right with their own feelings, thoughts and experiences in a life separate to you? This is a big step and is critical in preparing for your divorce.
Can you make agreements that respect both your rights, are good for everyone, gives everyone what is rightfully theirs and can work well for all concerned without the court having to enforce anything? Because that is so much better than one spouse only looking out for themselves, wanting what’s good for them only, gives one spouse less than the other, is inconvenient for all and needs frequent court hearing to enforce agreements.
By starting the process in an amicable way you can be better prepared for your divorce and are much more capable of making lasting agreements with each other, resolve your difficulties and develop parenting plans that both supports the children and respects everyone’s rights.
Ideally, you’ll want to share with your spouse you’re considering divorce as soon as you reach the decision that you want to end your marital life. You’ll want to say this when you’re calm and also have time to discuss it. You need to give your partner the time and space they need to process this news and come to terms with what you’ve just told them.
The right words to say are the ones that are straight forward, honest and kind. It’s not the time to replay every argument you’ve ever had. It’s not about blaming or shaming. Have a well thought-out strategy about how and when to talk about your feelings in a way that’s clear, not cruel.
How do I tell my husband or wife I want a divorce?
It’s time for you to tell your partner you want a divorce. It might be the toughest thing you are going to ever say.
Whether your spouse is expecting it or not, actually saying ‘I want a divorce’ will be a significant experience. Make sure you are giving them the space, time and privacy they need to process this information. Having the kids around, being somewhere public or being against the clock is not helpful or respectful to your partner’s feelings. That said, if you feel at physical risk, being somewhere public or having someone there to support you may be wise.
Don’t blindside your partner. If they have no idea how you are feeling blindsiding them can be devastating and lead to a harder transition for you both. You need to give them the opportunity to have a reaction and express their suffering, refusal and even anger.
You will have to face their pain and also the pain of others, be it the children’s, your family or friend’s, because divorce affects so many people’s lives. If you are the one choosing the divorce you will have to hold onto your decision to end your marriage in the face of all these people, pressure and circumstances. If you are the one who does not want the divorce, but your spouse wants to proceed, you will need the time to come to terms with the concept that your marriage has failed and will still need to deal with everyone around who is also hurting.
Be clear with your spouse. If it’s over, then it’s over. Do not give false hope. But if you might be open to working on your marriage, let you partner know exactly how you are feeling, what is making you consider divorce and give them the chance to respond to that. Realise that it may be overwhelming for them and their first response might not be the most diplomatic or most reflective of their true feelings.
Be as direct and compassionate as possible. Tell them ‘ I understand this may be hard for you to hear, but I believe our marriage is over and we need to get divorced.’ After all, this was a person you once loved and may still have to have a relationship with for the sake of your children. And if you do have children together then their mother or father is going to be part of your life for a very long time and you will have to figure out how to co-parent in separate households efficiently. Separating in an empathetic and respectful way will make future dealings much easier as you transit into this new phase of your life.
I want a divorce but my husband or wife doesn’t.
When partners are on completely different pages it can be terribly hard and painful. The other spouse may be completely stunned, shocked and devastated. ‘Divorce? Where did that come from? How did we go from planning a vacation to divorce?’ They maybe had no idea you felt the marriage was this awful and are now panicking, thinking they have to find a way to put a stop to this and get things ‘back to normal.’
Not wanting a divorce when your spouse does puts you in an emotionally reactive place where you feel out of control and powerless in your own life. You may experience intense psychological trauma as your life changes before your eyes without you having any grip on the outcome. In addressing this issue you need to ask yourself if you are clinging to the familiar, safe ground and to a marriage based on a lie. It is not easy to acknowledge and confront the problems in a marriage when you are feeling so hurt by your partner, but you cannot pretend to be in a relationship that isn’t real.
Whether it’s you or your spouse who doesn’t want to divorce, coming to terms with the reality of the situation and accepting things as they are, and not how you wish they were, is hard, painful and takes time to process.
Be patient, caring and help your spouse come to the place they need to be in order for you to prepare for divorce. You don’t want to divorce someone who is bitter, vengeful or will try to emotionally blackmail you through their perceived helplessness.
I want a divorce but have no money.
Forbes Magazine estimates the average cost of a divorce at $15,000 most of which is attorney fees. If you are thinking ‘where am I going to get $15,000 from?’ then you’re not alone. Many people who should get a divorce, don’t because of fears over the costs.
If your separation is messy, you have disputes over custody, support or assets then you are going to need a lawyer to protect your interests and that is going to cost you money. We can help you to find a qualified divorce lawyer in your area for a price you can afford.
However, if you are able to work with your spouse to reach an amicable agreement then you can get your divorce completed for just a few hundred dollars.
If this sounds achievable and you like the idea of saving thousands of dollars, then we can get you started on the process beginning with checking the eligibility for divorce in your state.
An uncontested divorce isn’t always possible, but if you and your spouse can treat each other with respect and work to reach a settlement that works for both of you then this is definitely the route you want to take.