How To Know Whether You Should Stay or Go

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Ending Your Marriage

Indecision
Photo: Gary S. Chapman / Getty Images

How do you know when to throw in the towel or when your marriage has reached the point of no return? Ask yourself some key questions before making the decision to file for divorce.

Here is What You Should be Asking Yourself:

  1. Are the two of you constantly fussing with one another over trivial matters?
  2. Does just about everything about your spouse irritate you?
  3. Has your spouse physically or emotionally abused you? Are you afraid of your spouse?
  1. Do you believe that your love, patience and hope have just all run out?

    Video: Signs You've Fallen Out of Love With Your Spouse

  2. Do your communications always end up in a fight or argument? When you fight, do you fight fair or target below the belt? Do either of you bring up past hurts?
  3. When was the last time you had fun together? When was the last time you felt sexually attracted to each other? Do you still make love?
  4. Do the same problems keep resurfacing again and again?  Can you accept that your personal unhappiness is your own responsibility?
  5. Does your spouse constantly put you down, attack your self-esteem, and/or criticize you? Do you have any respect for your spouse? Does your spouse respect you?
  6. Are you willing to co-parent the rearing of your children with your ex-spouse?
  7. Are your goals and values different?
  8. Can you compromise on important issues?
  9. Has your spouse been unfaithful? Has he or she had a physical or emotional affair?
  1. Have you tried counseling? If so, how long? A few sessions will not help things if your distress has been going on for years. 
  2. Do the same problems keep resurfacing again and again?
  3. Does the same "pattern" keep resurfacing. For example, you always try to talk and your partner always shuts down.
  4. Do you have dreams of divorce or that your spouse died?
  1. Do you have a plan if you do divorce? Are you able to cope with the financial and emotional stresses of divorce?
  2. Are you self-aware?  What problems or behaviors are you bringing into the marriage?

What to do:

It is important that you face the realities of divorce and not the fantasy. Sometimes an unhealthy relationship cannot be saved and divorce is inevitable. It is particularly difficult to continue in a marriage where there is on-going infidelity or multiple affairs, addition (sex, porn, substance abuse), or abuse.  If you feel unsafe or fearful of your spouse, it may be time to move on.

Realize that you must keep yourself emotionally and physically healthy through this stressful time. You won't make rational decisions if you are depressed or sleep deprived. 

If you seek help, see a therapist that works with couples even if you go yourself. These therapists are trained to help you understand the underlying problems in your marriage. They may point out things that you don't see in both you and your relationship. 

Be careful about talking to others about your marital problems. They will most likely side with you having not heard your spouses "side of the story."  They may even encourage you leave if you are not happy.

It is okay to seek support, but do not bad mouth your spouse as you may end up staying together after all.

Don't blindside your spouse. If you have never brought up how seriously you are thinking about divorce, maybe now is the time. If you are not in an unsafe circumstance (for example, you fear your spouse and have been in an abusive marriage), you may want to put this out to him or her.  You do not have to mention the "D" word right now, but you could stress how very unhappy you are and the you have been having some scary thoughts about your future together. This may finally put your relationship on a trajectory that you have been seeking all along. 

You may also like: The Four Biggest Marriage Fails

Article updated by Marni Feuerman