Is divorce the answer?
This question dawns slowly for some. Facing a betrayal, a seemingly irresolvable conflict, or a chasm of distance from the person they thought would be their most intimate relationships for life–they slowly begin to consider the possibility. Others quickly default to planning their exit; clueless that options exist which might save their relationship. How can you know if you can sustain a marriage everyone involved intended to be permanent?
A few questions help define the options.
1) What is the picture of a healthy marriage?
Take time to detail the elements that define marriage. Those operating from a faith foundation for marriage find these principles in scripture. Others may look to the vows they took on their wedding day, insights from trusted counselors or happily married friends, or sound books on relationships. Use these resources to make a detailed list of the traits and behaviors that create a healthy marriage.
Often, it is simply a change in priority. The best indicator of true priorities comes from the answers to three questions:
- Where to you spend your time?
- Where do you spend your money?
- What do you think about?
When you examine your marriage, what would it mean to make your spouse the top human priority with your time, your money, and your thought life?
2) Are you willing to make the changes necessary to live by these traits and behaviors? Is your spouse?
If the question of divorce has arisen, that likely means a gap between the picture of a healthy marriage and the marriage you have. Are both spouses willing to change the way they relate in order to make each other a priority and to include the elements of a healthy marriage?
- Is each person willing to give up time at work to be home more?
- Is either willing to forego a relationship that threatens the security of spouse?
- Will the money of the marriage be used for investment in the marital relationship–whether through dates that reconnect, investment in a dream job, or reduction of security-threatening debt?
- If is each of you willing to invest thought-life in understanding, relating to, and valuing your spouse?
3) If you answered “yes,” options exist.
When spouses are willing to move from where they are to the elements of a healthy marriage, they can find help. Whether through meeting with a pastor or trusted counselor, attending a marriage retreat, or engaging in marital mediation–resources exist to educate and support couples in transition to a relationship that works. They reconnect; they find an “us;” intimacy re-emerges.
4) If you answered “no,” then you are likely already emotionally divorced.
When couples have intentionally or unintentionally become more wedded to a behavior or priority than each other, legal divorce often simply makes official an emotional reality. While couples can choose to move back into emotional connection, if they choose not to do so–divorce may be the method for making life consistent.
Few people ever want to consider divorce. Yet, if you are there–these questions can help determine if divorce is the answer.