There’s no relationship without rough patches. Then there’s the fact that life throws a lot of punches in our way, and all the fatigue from all the bobbing and weaving can have an impact on the way we think about our relationship. A lot more factors come into play. Opinions are changing. Emotions are changing. Boredom is creeping in. Stress does, too.
Particularly right now, in the grip of coronavirus, the stress of life could obscure the true picture of your relationship. But if you couldn’t help but wonder, “Should I ask for a divorce? ” there are some tough questions for you before you ask the big question.
Questions on how you’re doing mentally. Whether or not certain situations beyond your control change the way you see your marriage. Whether you’re doing enough or just trying to shift the blame. It’s about compromise, about growth.
Self-interrogation is crucial before a divorce is considered. There are things that we need to examine and understand before we make major leaps. Here, then, are a dozen questions that anyone taking into account a divorce should ask themselves to really comprehend whether or not they are jumping to the conclusion. Because once you say the words “I want a divorce,” it’s almost impossible to go back.
What is my vantage point?
Stress puts both of you in a heightened state. It could make you more tired, nervous, depressed, and irritable. In other words, small annoyances or mid-size arguments can seem like major disasters. Looking at what your marriage was like when you weren’t depressed will shift your outlook on what makes you upset. It’s crucial to understand the lens you ‘re looking through.
Ask yourself: Is the way I feel about my partner the product of their acts being compounded by outside influences? “You can have a bad year in a marriage, but you could also have some great ones after that,” says Denna Babul, a relationship expert, public speaker, and the author of the book Love Strong. “You have to really put it in perspective and ask, ‘Is this happening because of an overarching theme, which you may think it is, or am I making it worse because we’re in a worse situation?’”
Are my emotional needs being met by someone else?
Casual emotional infidelity exists in many relationships. It ’s essential to really ask yourself if you’re leaning towards a co-worker, a friend, or some other individual in your life for an emotional connection. It’s not necessarily someone of the opposite sex. It basically comes down to whether or not there is a person in your life who is filling a need that needs to be filled by your significant other.
“If we took the time to understand each other, every marriage would work,” Babul says. “It’s just that we get tired and we go, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore. So I’m going to go find some that fun stage from the beginning and I’m going to let all my good endorphins come out to make me think that I’m incredible.’”
Do I feel empowered in this relationship?
Are you giving up your own needs to please your partner? Do you feel afraid to say “No” to them because of their responses or their reactions? Are decisions difficult for you because you’re scared of the fallout? These are relevant matters.
You have to ask yourself, ‘Do I feel empowered to go after my dreams,” Babul says. “Do I feel empowered to speak up, do I feel empowered when I’m with them? Or are they draining my energy?”
If you’re not motivated by your partner, this can lead to feelings of frustration and rage over time. Look back over the course of your relationship. Have most of the decisions been made by your spouse because you were vetoed or because you just didn’t speak up? Has your spouse ever made choices or plans without you, thinking you ‘d be all right with it? If you don’t feel encouraged by your partner, and you expressed this concern to them, then there’s a marriage issue.
Do we understand each other’s core values?
This is deeper than just sharing the same moral code. In married life, most people share the same beliefs about what is right and wrong. Understanding each other’s core beliefs speaks to a greater understanding of who your partner is. It means understanding and respecting what your spouse values the most.
“It’s things like someone saying, ‘Okay, my dad cheated on my mom, so trust is a big one for me,’” Babul explains. “‘So if I trust him, maybe he won’t cheat on me, but can I trust him to hold my secrets? Can I trust him to not share something I’ve told him?’ And when the trust or any kind of value that you deem important for yourself is broken, that’s a big problem. So if you walk into a marriage and you know their core values and you know, your core values, then you kind of understand your deal-breakers.”
Is my spouse trying to change what I value?
In keeping with the spirit of core values, it is also crucial that your spouse respects what you value and does not try to reshape it to suit their own needs or values. We all change in a marriage, evolve and learn to live together and build a bond based on common values and ways of looking at the world. But if someone doesn’t respect what you value and wants to change that part of your character, that can be a matter of concern.
“Let’s say the husband’s wife is an introvert,” says Babul, “and he wants someone with more energy. Well, that’s not going to change. So you’ve got to deal with who your spouse is and be okay with who they are at their core. So if they are trying to change you, and I’m talking about a change that you don’t feel is necessary, then that’s a big problem.”
Am I always compromising?
Compromise is an important part of any relationship, but it has to be a two-way street, and both parties have to be all right with the settlement. If you still give in and let your partner have his or her way, and then call it a compromise, you can find yourself in a difficult situation.
“It’s okay to say, ‘I’m going to bend a little on this, but on the back end, I’ll get this or that out of it,” says Babul. “But if you’re the one who is doing all the compromising and letting go of a part of yourself, then you’re going to get angry. Compromise can be good if you do it with the right intentions.”
Is my spouse growing with me?
We ‘re all growing up as people. Our interests change. Our perspective may change. We ‘re evolving, hopefully getting better in the process, but happy couples are growing and evolving together. So if you or your partner remain rigid, leaning toward bad habits or destructive minds, and not willing to change them, marriage may become dangerous and unhealthy.
“Weakness could be that someone causes you to anger easily or make you feel misunderstood. But when someone loves you strong, or you feel that you can love strong back, it empowers you.
But if someone is taking all the weight, and they’re pulling you down and you can’t get back up, then that’s not equal. And I think that’s why a lot of marriages fall apart, the focus changes or either a person’s not willing to continue to grow.”
Would my life be better without my spouse?
This is a very difficult question to ask yourself, but it needs to be answered. It’s about finding your happiness, and it’s highly possible that this isn’t something you can do while you’re married to this person. Look at your life the way it is now, and then imagine your life without your spouse. Depending on which choice looks more appealing, you ‘re going to have your answer.
According to Babul, “It comes down to envisioning, ‘I’m stagnant. And, if I get away from being stuck here, will I then go and get the things that I hope I would get with my partner?’”
Is my spouse nicer to me than to other people?
In marriages, especially long ones, we tend to ignore basic necessities, assuming they ‘re just implied. We believe, well, my spouse knows that I love him or her, so I don’t always have to say it or show it. Or we think we should torment them or say hurtful things because we know they ‘re always coming home at the end of the day.
But that’s not always the case. Kindness, respect, and honesty are not things that should be inferred or assumed, particularly in a marriage. When absent, anger and hurt feelings may be embedded.
“If you emailed a coworker or a neighbor you’d say, ‘Hey, how are you doing? Any chance you could pick up Billy?’” says Babul. “I think in marriage, we take all that for granted.” It’s important to ask: are you being taken for granted? Is your niceness being taken for granted? Are you giving more than you’re receiving?”
Would my spouse know the reason why I’m leaving?
Have you really expressed your dissatisfaction? Did you mention that your needs are not being met? Or is your spouse going to feel completely blindsided? Does he or she know what’s wrong? Have you given them an opportunity to understand how you feel? Please ensure you’ve been upfront from the start and give your spouse an opportunity to repair things that don’t work.
Do I still want to connect physically with my spouse?
It’s not just about sex, though that’s a major element of a marriage. What is going deeper, however, is the desire to touch your spouse. To hold hands or just be physically close to them.
If you’re not supplying that, well, it’s “People can be turned on by a spouse and think that they’re the best thing ever,” Babul says, “But it becomes, ‘Okay, after five minutes of sex, I don’t get any other attention. He’s gotten his needs met and I’m over here still floundering around.”
Am I truly listening?
Have you ever taken the time to connect with your partner and listen to what they’re saying? Not just idly nodding your head while you’re scrolling through your phone, but putting your phone down and hearing what he or she has to say. Marriages need that connection time, even if it’s only half an hour a day. Are you connecting?
“Most women value their spouse’s opinion so much,” says Babul. “And that’s what they’re looking for. ‘I want to hear what he thinks about this.’ And when a guy says something like, ‘Oh that’s such a dumb fight, I’m not even talking about you and your friend getting into an argument,’ it devalues what she is bringing to you. So I would say the best advice I could give to any man, if I could get on a microphone and stand on top of the world, I’d say, if you plugged in 30 minutes a day with your wife, you’d be golden.”