At some point everyone questions their relationship as to whether it is working or not, sometimes even considering the big “D” or break-up. All relationships go through up’s and down’s, it’s a normal part of the relationship cycle that all couples go through. If you’re one of those people considering a divorce, here are some questions you need to ask yourself before making that bold decision.
Why are you considering getting divorced?
What is it exactly that is leaving you feeling this way, have you go into a rut? Are you disconnected and living separate lives? Do you still care about the person and can you see them in your future? Every relationship goes through bad patches. That does not necessarily mean your relationship is over, not working or that you’re not meant to be together. It’s just feedback that something is not working and what do you want to do about it if anything?
What do you really love about this person?
If you really love this person, what is it about them that you love? You should be able to list at least 5 things about them ranging from their quirky traits, personality, physical appearance, things they do and how they make you feel. If you can only list a few things (e.g. I enjoy being with this person) then you may want to question whether it really is love or more companionship, or the fear of being alone or finances that is driving your decision.
If you had the opportunity to turn things around, would you want to and how badly do you want to fix this relationship?
Rate this question on a scale of 0-low/10-high. Anything below a 6 is going to take a lot more effort to fix the relationship – it’s not impossible, but it’s not going to be easy either. Are you prepared to do the work? If not then maybe it’s time to move on. If yes, then you need to look at what’s working and what’s not working in your relationship and start actioning those items – do more of what’s working and change what’s not working.
What is your level of commitment to making the relationship work should you decide to stay and work on it?
Rate this question on a scale of 0-low/10-high. If you are not 100% committed to do what it takes to make it work then it’s going to be a bumpy road ahead.
Your level of commitment and how badly you want to fix your relationship will determine what you are prepared to stop doing/start doing differently to ensure your relationship is a success the second time round for example: if your partner regularly complained that you were always working late and never home, are you prepared to balance your working schedule so that you can spend more time with your partner?
What has your role/contribution been in getting things to where they are now?
As much as we like to blame our partner for what’s wrong in our relationship, we have also contribution in various ways to the downfall and need to take ownership of our role and contribution and see that as areas of development going forward so that the same thing does not happen in your next relationship.
If the relationship is abusive then personal safety and that of your children comes first and you need to make that your priority.
In the event you are against a divorce and it was your partner’s decision, here are some additional questions you need to ask yourself:
- What got us to this place and how did I not see the signs or miss what was going on?
- Review your financial situation and how you will be able to cope on a single income going forward. This may involve a lifestyle change.
- Should children be involved, you will need to negotiate and agree on who is going to pay for what in relation to each other’s earning capacity.
- What do you need for you to gain closure and to be able to move forward and start a new life
- Do you need answers to any unanswered questions you still have?
- What if you never get these answers? Can you make peace with that and move on?
- Do you need forgiveness – from yourself or from your partner?
- What needs to happen for you to move on e.g. having no contact with your Ex at all?
- What do you need to do to pick up the pieces and move forward so you don’t dwell on old times and keep yourself stuck in the past?
If you are in a relationship right now, asking each other these questions can help you breathe new energy into your relationship. We seldom review our relationships as to what’s working and what’s not working and only realise that something is wrong when we’re heading down the rocky road to break-up or divorce or a therapists chair.
Couples often leave things until it is too late instead of equipping themselves with tools and skills to navigate the speed bumps along the way. Investing in yourself, each other and your relationship is far cheaper than investing in a divorce lawyer.
Equip yourself with knowledge and tools on what your rights are according to your marriage agreement and your legal rights according to assets, children and property. These discussions are not sexy but very important to have at the beginning of any relationship however laws change and it’s important you keep yourself up to date on these issues.
Look to attend workshops and seminars on these topics so you’re not left in the dark, get professional help as a couple or a divorcee to help you navigate the emotions and situation to get you back on your feet again. Divorce is not a death sentence even though it can feel like one yet it can teach us valuable lessons about ourselves, relationships and marriage if we are prepared to see both the positive and negatives sides of the situation.
A version of this articles also appeared in Essentials Magazine SA.
Paula Quinsee is a Relationship Expert, Tedx speaker and author of self-help guides ‘Embracing Conflict’ and ‘Embracing No’. Paula works with individuals and organisations to cultivate healthy relationships in both their personal and professional arenas by focusing on emotional skills and personal growth and development. She regularly appears in the media and consulted to ‘Married at First Sight SA’ TV show.