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How to Know if Divorce is the Best Decision

If you’re struggling with the difficult “Should I get a divorce?” question, you may need an unbiased external perspective that isn’t overwhelmed by emotion. Here are 10 signs to help you decide if divorcing your husband is the best choice, inspired by Should I Stay or Should I Go?

should I get a divorce“It takes a lot of bravery to look right at the truth of your situation,” writes Lundy Bancroft in Should I Stay or Should I Go? A Guide to Knowing if Your Relationship Can – and Should – Be Saved. “Sometimes it’s hard to look at what you know to be true because it seems like you won’t be able to face the overwhelming sadness of it. These kinds of sad feelings seem like they’ll never go away. It seems like life as you know it will end.” He adds that one of the prevalent features of life with an angry or controlling husband or boyfriend is that he frequently tells you what you should think and tries to get you to doubt or devalue your own perceptions and beliefs.

One of the reasons it’s so difficult to know if you should get a divorce is because your life will be forever changed – and so will the lives of your family. One season of your life is coming to a close. Even if you stay married and rebuild your relationship, you’ll be embarking on a new stage of your marriage.

Asking “Should I get a divorce?” is the first step to a whole new season of your life – for better or worse. Below are 10 reasons divorce is the best decision, plus encouragement to move forward in strength, faith, hope, and strength.

Change is hard, especially when it means your whole life will be upheaved! Deciding to get divorced is a huge decision. It’s emotionally destructive for both you and your husband – not to mention your children, family members, and even your friends and coworkers. Divorce is incredibly expensive financially; in fact, I’ve heard that it’s the number one cause of poverty among single divorced mothers.

However, the cost of a divorce shouldn’t be the deciding factor. More important is your current marriage situation (how bad is it?) and the long-term consequences of staying in this relationship (are you losing yourself, your spirit, your heart and soul?).

In How to Make a Difficult Decision in Your Life, I describe one strategy for deciding what to do: decide who you want to be and start choosing actions that help you get there.

Should You Get a Divorce? 10 Reasons to Say Yes

“We had an ‘open marriage’ and lost that incredibly special foundation of trust and intimacy with each other,” Amy Kristine on Divorced Men And Women Reveal What Was Missing From Their Marriages (the link to the original article on the Huffington Post is below). “We became more like roommates than intimate partners.”

No matter how you feel about your husband, you’re wondering if ending your marriage is the right thing to do. No one can tell you if you should get a divorce, but these reasons for leaving an unhealthy, unhappy marriage may help you decide.

1. Your husband is violent or threatening towards you or your family

There is never an excuse or reason for physical, sexual, emotional, or mental abuse in a marriage. Regardless of what you’ve said to “cause” his reaction or done to “make him” be cruel towards you or your children, it is not your fault. I worked at a shelter for women fleeing domestic violence, and I know how difficult it is to leave an abusive marriage. But if you’re still asking “Should I get a divorce?” even as you’re healing from your physical or emotional wounds, then I’m here to tell you that YES. You should get a divorce.

Read What to Expect at a Woman’s Shelter or Safe House, especially if you don’t have family or friends who can help you leave.

Fix Your Marriage

2. You don’t recognize yourself anymore

Have you become a stranger to yourself?

How to Know if Divorce is the Best Decision

“Should I Get a Divorce?” image via unsplash evan kirby

If you’ve completely lost touch with who you are (or were, or wanted to be), then your marriage has eroded your sense of self. Losing yourself isn’t about feeling confused or unfocused, or needing a few hours alone to reconnect with yourself. Losing yourself is not even knowing who you are anymore. If you’ve lost yourself, you don’t know what you believe in, what you really think, or who you really are.

“Begin making choices based on what makes you feel freer and happier,” says Martha Beck, “rather than how you think an ideal life should look. Feel your way towards happiness.”

3. Your love for your husband has died

“It was though there was a door to love between us,” writes a wife in Should I Stay or Should I Go? “He kept slamming it closed when he’d act that way, and I kept opening it. I kept talking, working, pleading, asking, crying, trying. I kept opening that door to love. One day I reached out, and there was no handle on the door. It was just gone.”

Walking away is the most loving thing you can do in a relationship that can’t be saved. Saying, “yes, I should get a divorce” is a sign that you still have the ability to love yourself, save yourself, and become healthy, happy, and whole again. Staying in a loveless marriage isn’t helpful to your husband, your children, or anyone connected with you.

4. You’re waiting to stop loving him

Have you already accepted that your husband isn’t the right partner for you? Maybe you know for sure that he won’t change because you’ve been married for 25 years. You know he doesn’t love you, and you may even suspect he never did love you.

And yet, you still love him. This is natural! It’s completely normal to love your husband even if he hasn’t been loving towards you. You married him for a reason, you’re sharing your life and money and children and possessions with him…of course you love him. But, the feeling of love isn’t a reason to stay in a unhealthy one-sided relationship. It may feel confusing and strange to decide you should divorce a man you love…but sometimes we need to let go of someone we love in order to save ourselves.

5. You have no energy to keep fighting to save your marriage

“We don’t take your commitment lightly,” writes Bancroft in Should I Stay or Should I Go? “We understand that you’ve committed yourself deeply to this relationship. We also know that women in destructive relationships work so hard and endure so much that they finally reach the place of not wanting to do it anymore.”

It’s okay to honor your exhaustion and your feelings of helplessness. Good relationships take hard work and commitment, and the rewards is more connection and love. Destructive relationships steal your heart, soul, energy, and life – and marriage is not supposed to be like that. Honor yourself by allowing yourself to say yes when you ask yourself, Should I get a divorce?

6. Your husband breaks promises he made in counseling

If you and your husband went to marriage therapy or couples counseling, you may have been given “tasks” to help rebuild your relationship. Maybe you both committed to a specific type of change, or to try a new ways of relating to each other. Maybe your husband even made the changes he promised, and you started to believe you shouldn’t even think about getting a divorce.

Leaving a marriage is a good decision if your husband breaks the commitments he made during counseling and if he refuses to be answerable for his actions. If deliberately he hurts you, threatens to harm himself or your family, cheats on you and lies to you, then you need to get emotional support from a counselor or a trusted friend. It’s very damaging to start rebuilding trust in your husband, only to revert to the original unhealthy relationship.

7. You’ve tried everything, but still ask “Should I get a divorce?”

For your own peace of mind, you need to try different ways to save your marriage before you decide you should get a divorce. Read Should I Stay or Should I Go? A Guide to Knowing if Your Relationship Can – and Should – Be Saved – it’s an excellent, in-depth resource for saving a relationship. You could try couples counseling or marriage therapy, go on marriage or couples retreats, or engage in an online marriage coaching course.

But, you also need to know when to let go.

“You deserve to be cherished, to feel loved and supported in your partnership,” writes Bancroft in Should I Stay or Should I Go? “You give these things and you deserve them back…We don’t want to see you martyr yourself to be there for a man who is not doing a good job of being there for you.”

You want the best for your husband, your children, and your family as a whole. You’ve glimpsed the loving, kind, warm nature of your husband – after all, you married him for a reason! But you also need to know when to stop trying to save your marriage, and when to start saving yourself. If you’re being repeatedly torn down or treated coldly, you have the right to let your marriage go.

8. You want but aren’t getting the intimacy you need

Some marriages are positive and healthy even without physical or emotional intimacy. It depends on the couples’ expectations, lifestyle, agreement, and physical needs. Emotional connection and/or sexuality isn’t a key need for some women and men, so a lack of physical intimacy isn’t a big deal.

How to Know if Divorce is the Best Decision

How to Know if Divorce is the Best Decision

However, if you’re not receiving the emotional intimacy or physical affection and contact you need from your husband, then you may need to move on. Many women need emotional intimacy, or they wither on the vine. Women – and men – need to know their spouses are invested emotionally and physically in their marriages, that both partners are trying to give the other what they need.

“When I reflect on what was missing from my marriage (and I am feeling honest), I usually come to the same conclusion: Me,” says Al Corona on Divorced Men And Women Reveal What Was Missing From Their Marriages (the link to the original article on the Huffington Post is below). “I wasn’t invested enough. Sure, I can lay blame and say it was because my partner did not give me what I needed, but truth be told, I could have been better. I could have found a way to keep us on track. I could have done more.”

9. You told your husband you would leave if he…

On 8 Ways to Cope With an Alcoholic Husband, Ramona shared that she told her husband over and over that if he got drunk at noon again, she would leave him. He continued to drink every day at lunchtime; she continued to threaten him with a divorce.

Have you repeatedly drawn boundaries with your husband – and has he repeatedly ignored them? Then yes, without a doubt you should get a divorce! This is one of those times that the answer is clear and obvious. If you and your husband are going around and around in circles, you’re enabling each other. You’re trapped in a codependent marriage. You’re just helping each other dig deeper and deeper into the pit of despair instead of inspiring each other to rise, grow, and Blossom.

10. You know deep down that you should get a divorce

Choose authentically. Listen to the still small voice inside you that knows what you need to do. Ask that still small voice, “Should I get a divorce?” and listen carefully. Pay attention to your body. Draw upon your deeper wisdom. Ask yourself for advice, and be honest with yourself. It will be a relief to learn what’s true for you – even though it may mean some painful days ahead! But this will be authentic pain that will lead to authentic joy.

“Our relationship while married had somehow developed into a non-meaningful one,” says Amy Johnson on Divorced Men And Women Reveal What Was Missing From Their Marriages (the link to the original article on the Huffington Post is below). “I felt like we were robots getting through the day. We looked happy superficially, however just below the surface, we’d grown into two different people, and the connection and partnership we’d formed all those years ago was no longer a sustainable one and we were so unhappy. Now that we are divorced and our relationship is based solely on raising our children, I consider it one of the most meaningful relationships I have.”

Final thoughts – should I get a divorce?

Remember that it doesn’t serve you to stay in a marriage that is unhappy or unhealthy. You aren’t doing your children a favor by refusing to take action in a relationship that you know in your heart isn’t good.

What do you say? While I can’t offer advice – or tell you the answer to your ‘should I get a divorce?’ question – I do read every comment. I encourage you to respond to other readers’ comments if you feel led, and to share your experience. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and can help you process your feelings.

Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what could be.

The pain of making the right decision will be soothed by the joy of becoming your authentic self. When you make your choice, inner resources will begin to unfurl in you. External resources – people, money, jobs, support networks you didn’t know existed – will start to appear. Your future will start to arrange itself. What lies ahead is far greater than what lies behind…if you have the courage to reach upwards and inwards, and Blossom into the woman God created you to be.

Have faith. Take heart.

Quotes from Amy Johnson, Al Corona, and Amy Kristine were excerpted from Divorced Men And Women Reveal What Was Missing From Their Marriages, on the Huffington Post.


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40 thoughts on “How to Know if Divorce is the Best Decision”

  1. I think divorce is the best decision but I just can’t bring myself to pull the plug and leave my husband. My husband is an addict, and his current drug is adderall. I spend about $300 plus monthly to keep him decent. I told him almost a year and a half ago to stop doing drugs. He’ll stay up for days. Our house is piled high with trash, unfinished projects. I tried taking trash out but he would not let me. He is verbally abusive, has pushed me more than once, threw objects, and yesterday he locked me out of the house. I was hurt, but yet I felt peace. I know he has a disease (addiction) but he has made no efforts. It’s only gotten worse. He has never worked. Should I leave or stay? I love him but I am unhappy, and he is not the same man I married.

    1. You should go. If nothing else, separate yourself from him. There are legal separations through court you could do also. But if he is abusive, protect yourself from his controlling and hurtful ways. You never know when it will get worse.

      I recently forced my addicted and abusive husband out as well. I’m not sure about divorce yet, but I refuse to let him be near my daughter again because of the abuse.

  2. Was on anti depressants for 20 years. Been completely off for almost 1 year. Didn’t really have to feel feelings fully as I was numb. Prior, I had an explosive temper that I struggled to control. (Was an emotionally abused child.) Was told it will be another full year before I know how I will be. It is strange to have feelings again and trying to deal with them. Had an explosion tonight and my husband told me to “get the f out”. I shouted back, “you”. He has been after me to get back on anti depressants since I got off of them. I have to find my support elsewhere. I can’t even go into all the things that went on that added to the craziness. When I first came off of them, my adrenals tanked and I was living off of 1.5 – 4 hours of sleep a night. This went on for months. It started to get really crazy. Menopause and withdrawal collided. (Yes, I withdrew slowly and it went well until done for a few days.) He is 22 years older than I am. I wish I could completely describe all the ways I feel emotionally abused. I no longer know who I am. It is like I woke up and keep wondering how I got so old and how did I get here? My daughter barely speaks with him and he doesn’t understand. My youngest recently told me that, “He treats you like crap and you keep taking it. When will you fight back?” I told him that all it does is cause him to get mad, then I may get the silent treatment for weeks at a time. I learned long ago that arguing back only has worse consequences. Then I feel guilty because I am trying to keep my side of the street clean and God doesn’t like resentments, which clearly I have. God also doesn’t condone divorce. So I keep working on myself, trying to be a better person. I have health problems now that are not resolved so have tests coming up and chronic pain. He has chronic pain too which makes him irritable. I have gone to counseling and brought him to it at one point and he is fine as long as I am the identified patient but as soon as she started to get into his stuff he got all huffy and wouldn’t listen and bad mouthed her to me. I have tried to talk about it in the Christian circle but am told we need marriage counseling. It would be up to me to set it up and probably pay for it. It seems like it is always up to me and I am tired. There is so much more and it is so complicated that I can’t see straight. And now, because I yelled at him and lost my temper due to the chronic stress, I can plan on getting the silent treatment for quite awhile. I don’t even like myself anymore. I guess for now I just be quiet and keep praying and listening for a response. I hope God brings me home but at the same point, when I leave here, I would like to leave in victory, not like this. I also don’t know if part of his problem is age related. If that is the case then I should stay as it would fall under, “for better or for worse”. It’s been going on so long that I just don’t know. What I do know is that I haven’t worked a job that is good enough, now I am too skinny according to him, and the list can go on and on. I feel loved by God, but unloved by family and my friends don’t know. I’m not sure I have the words to describe what I feel. I guess “lost” is about as close as I can come. Our prayer group got uncomfortable when I asked for prayer and more or less swept it under the rug. But really, what else could they do? I have contacted my counselor again to get back into it. I feel so depleted I almost feel like someone else needs to take over and tell me what to do and guide me through this.

  3. I read a very interesting article about fear based vs goal driven people. I have been staying in my relationship out of fear, mostly. Fear of losing that extra income, fear that I won’t be loved by someone else, fear that I’ll damage our daughter by breaking up the family, fear of being alone and trying to make it work on my own. All of those fears made it worth it to just keep going in the same relationship.

    My husband is not a good decision maker financially. He was raised poorly, with a mentally ill father figure.
    I am concerned if I stay with him, I’ll never have a good life . This month, He didn’t pay the car payment fully, and so they came to reposess it. Now he’s hiding out , trying to come up with the money to get it in good standing. It’s already been repo’d once. He chose not to tell me both times, even though I told him the first time this happened that he needed to tell me . I only hear about when the repo man comes to my door asking for the car.
    This is just part of the problem . I’m too old to be going through this with some guy. I see everyone around me doing something with themselves and he is always just scraping by. I don’t want to do that forever . But he always repeats his mistakes. He hardly learns from them.
    He’s been gone for 2 weeks + and I don’t miss him . I don’t miss having sex with him and Im adjusting to being alone. It’s making me realize maybe I don’t need him. We never had a great sex life and hurts and pains along the way have made me block him off. I have never found his body attractive, very skinny and bony, with no real muscles , unless he works out which is never. I don’t ever fantasize about him doing anything to me sexually anymore.

    I never wanted to date him but he just sucked me in . It was like a soul connection but it has faded so much.

    He fights for us to be together if I ever say I want to break up and Im starting to think I just need to plan to leave behind his back instead of telling him, and him going crazy.
    It’s hard though , I want to just tell him how I feel sometimes, but then I remember that I have, and we are right back here again. It’s a waste of time and energy.

  4. Of all the articles and help I have been looking for and things I have read about possible emotional abuse (in denial numerous times until last week and now everything is different), narcissistic patterns and my codependency ways, THIS IS THE BEST ONE. Thank you. Thank you. This speaks to my soul… it aligns with my soul and also reminds me to have faith. A lot of the other articles are about how tough it’s going to be and breed even more fear and anxiety. But your article felt like a guide to allow what I already felt, even though scared. I can only write this for now. But will be back when I have more time. I appreciate this loving site. Here’s to the path of authentic self love.

    1. This to shall pass like all the chapters in life. I must go on and choose divorce. My dad says do not think about how many times because that does not define who you are! We need you most of all healthy! That’s it that’s what I am choosing and with God everything is possible! I have not missed any miracles he has already given to me.

  5. Im so confused and dont know What to do anymore. we struggled with depression Since i was a young teenager, and im still cdealing with it every day. My husband is the type of Person that cant understand depression( hes the type to say just get over it Why let things get to you. You let stuff bother you way to much) so needless to say I cannot talkto him when I have my lowest Lows, I have no one, Im struggling with who I am, I feel like I have lostmyself, I am at the point where I have to fake smiles. I don’t know Where to turn I don’t have anyone to talk to, I feel like I need to ask permission for and anything everything.
    There are so many emotions running through my head and body that I dont even know what to think or Say. Imjustgoing through the motions of life but not living. Iwant to do more things however I know that if I make plans my husband meraciously came up with something that I wanted to do previously and now it’s happening so I have to cancel my Original plans. I don’t want to keep rambling on and on but like I said before, there are so many emotions and thoughts running through me that I need to get them all out before I go crazy. I need some serious help and I don’tknow where to go or where to turn.