When to Leave a Marriage
When people ask when to leave a marriage, they usually mean one of two things. First, they may want to know whether to leave a marriage. Or, they may have already decided to divorce but want to know how to determine the timing of when to go. This blog post will answer both common questions about when to leave a marriage: whether to leave and, if so, how to decide on the timing.
How To Know When to Leave a Marriage
Stuck in Indecision
We’ve worked with thousands of people considering divorce and know firsthand that many get stuck in indecision. For example, many people know deep down that they want to leave their marriage but worry about the timing of their decision. They are internally conflicted. For instance, they fear staying too long and missing out on opportunities for personal growth or modeling healthier relationships for their children. At the same time, they fear the potential regret associated with leaving too soon, not giving the marriage enough time, or not doing everything possible to make it work. This internal conflict is perfectly normal, and it doesn’t mean the answer is not to do anything.
The Search for Signs
It’s common for people to look for signs that indicate, for example, the perfect time to leave or that the marriage is improving. However, waiting for a clear signal or external validation can lead to perpetual perseveration and ambivalence. In these cases, people often justify delaying decisions or actions. For example, “I can’t decide after school’s out” or “I can’t leave while my mom is ill.” Avoid this trap. Rarely will a black-and-white answer come to you. If you wait for the uncertainty to disappear, you could get stuck waiting forever.
Take Small Steps
Often complete clarity only comes in hindsight — in other words, a clear, definitive answer may not come to you. Rather than expecting a definitive answer to strike you suddenly, it’s essential to understand that clarity may come in hindsight. Take a small step, such as creating physical or emotional space within the relationship, to help you evaluate how it feels and what happens. For example, develop interests or hobbies separate from your spouse, or consider moving into the guest bedroom. Then, pay attention to your emotions and the outcomes of these steps to inform your next move.
Trust Yourself and Take Action
Trust your judgment based on the information you have at the time, and be open. This will help you maintain integrity with yourself and your loved ones throughout the decision-making process. There is rarely a definitive internal answer or a single moment that signifies the right time to leave. However, by taking small steps, learning from experiences, and staying true to yourself, you can navigate the uncertainty with integrity and make choices that align with your needs and well-being. Remember, not deciding is a decision.
Timing of Leaving a Marriage
There’s no right time to leave a marriage — but there’s certainly a wrong time. Take a look at your calendar, and select a time and place to speak to your spouse without distraction.
You want to set yourself up to have the most productive, smooth interaction possible, so you’ll want to make a plan to ensure that the two of you have the space and time for the discussion. There are obvious things to avoid that will derail your conversation, such as a crisis at work or on an important family holiday. You may also want to consider giving yourself a “drop dead date” so you don’t fall into the trap of pushing it off and not taking action.
If you are contemplating divorce, consulting with a divorce lawyer can assist you in making an informed and empowered decision about your marriage. If we can be helpful, please get in touch with us here.