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When Is It Time To Get Divorced

Dear Jen,

I have been married for about six years, but for the past three years have been considering divorce. We don’t fight that often, but when we do, it can get pretty bad and we lose all connection. We have tried marriage therapy and that helped for a time, but then things just went back to the way they were before and I just don’t know that I can do it anymore. I don’t feel like he puts in the effort and to be honest, I know I don’t anymore. I just feel like I lost myself and I am dying in this marriage. The thing is, we have two beautiful children together and I really don’t want to hurt them or to have to only see them “part-time”. But I’m not happy in my marriage. So how do I know when it’s time to go ahead and call it quits?


I Want Out

Dear I Want Out,

I am sorry to hear that you are not happy in your marriage. I know how difficult the decision to getting a divorce can be. It isn’t an easy decision and having children together often makes the decision even more difficult, or even like an obligation. There isn’t a science to knowing when it’s “the right time”. However, if you feel like you have done all that you can do to “save your marriage” then the decision comes down to thinking about things from a happiness and mental health perspective. Bear in mind, feeling like you’ve done all you can is often internalized because we can’t force a feeling. Further, sometimes we can’t see the efforts others are making or, even at times, the effort we ARE actually putting in. If you still feel love for your partner, if you can still visualize a future with them, then maybe trying marriage therapy again would be beneficial. Understanding that it takes consistent and persistent practice to truly change things. However, if being in this marriage is creating resentment and pain and sadness and you don’t believe you can move past it together, then maybe it is time. Children are far more perceptive than we give them credit for and my guess is that they already have a feeling something is not right. Even infants “know” when their parents aren’t happy.

Ultimately, you will have to make a decision, but you have options. You can stay in the marriage the way things are and figure out a way to accept things as they are and find a way to be happy; you can try talking to your husband again and see if you can turn things around together; or you can get divorced and figure out how to find your happiness that way. There isn’t a right or wrong answer in those options. And they all come with their own specific challenges. You can’t see the future so you can’t know the outcome of any of them. But no matter what you choose as far as your relationship goes, I do hope you find a way to choose happiness. Finding out what makes you happy and being able to do more of that will be what helps guide you. When I was trying to make the decision to get divorced or stay married, a friend told me, “It doesn’t matter your reason for wanting out, it ultimately comes down to, are you happy or not? And do you think that you can find happiness while being with this person?” It made a lot of sense to me and ever since then, I have focused a lot more on happiness. I wish you luck!



*Disclaimer: this is not meant to act as or replace therapy in any way. Questions sent in may be edited for de-identification purposes, length, and/or grammatic coherency.

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