When It May Be Time to Leave Your Marriage

The decision to leave a marriage is always a difficult one and should never be taken lightly. As a marriage counselor, I have seen many marriages healed that seemed on the verge of ruin. Sadly, though, some marriages cannot be saved. I have found several situations that tend to be the most difficult to overcome. 

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Cut-throat relationship: When a couple is always at each other’s throats, it can be very difficult to teach them both how to communicate and disagree in a thoughtful, caring, considerate, and respectful manner. Often, this kind of behavior is a source of anxiety or depression for one or both spouses. If this is not corrected, there can be serious mental health consequences, not just for them but for any children they may have. 

Financial ruin caused by the reckless behavior of one spouse: There are incidences when one spouse spends indiscriminately, gambles excessively, or repeatedly leads the family into bankruptcy with failed business endeavors. If that spouse cannot develop restraint and put the financial needs of the family first, then divorce may be necessary in order to keep the family out of poverty. 

Abuse: If one spouse is physically abusing the other spouse or the children, it is critical to get out of the dangerous situation immediately. Emotional abuse and manipulation may have a degree of subjectivity – people have differing degrees of tolerance – but no one deserves to be controlled, belittled, or insulted on a regular basis.

One spouse simply does not want to try: Whatever problems a couple may be having, if both want to fix the marriage, chances are good that it can be repaired and love restored. However, if one spouse simply does not care, does not want to try, or blames the other spouse for all the problems, there is not much that can be done. The spouse who wants to work on the marriage may want to get personal counseling in order to judge clearly what would be the best next step to take.

 As a counselor, it is not my place to recommend divorce to my clients. That is a decision they must come to on their own, though I always encourage couples to try counseling first and to consider divorce only as a last resort—except in the case of physical abuse, in which case one should immediately get to safety. 

Balance the degree of marital dysfunction against the amount of upheaval divorce would cause and the degree of healing that is possible. Then come to the decision that is right for you.

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