Always try working things out rather than divorcing

Sunday September 10 2017

You’re thinking about divorce? The best way

You’re thinking about divorce? The best way forward’s to do all you can to improve things with your partner. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP  

By CHRIS HART
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Is your marriage in trouble? You’re thinking about divorce? The best way forward’s to do all you can to improve things with your partner, even though you’re thinking about leaving. Because being prepared to leave means you’ve nothing to lose. And can tackle your problems head on.

So take a totally honest look at yourself and your spouse. Remember the good times. How have things changed since then? Can they be put right?

What made you fall in love in the first place? Do you remember what you liked doing together when everything was fine? Are you still able to enjoy each other’s company, at least some of the time? Or is it all bickering and strained silences? 

Work on creating some good times again, because enjoying doing things together can help bring you back right from the brink of divorce. Even just watching funny TV shows together, because laughter can help you see the good in each other.

Is there a lot of stress in your life now? If there is, it’s likely you’ve started being hard on your partner, without realising it. They respond by being defensive, and so a vicious circle begins. Or maybe it’s your spouse who’s stressed. Or both of you. Working together on reducing stress could transform your marriage. 

Take good care of yourself. Starting healthier routines can do wonders for a marriage. Chances are you and your spouse no longer feel important to each other. Make each other a priority again. Resist the temptation to compare your marriage with anyone else’s. You’ve actually no idea what goes on between other couples – even those that look perfect! And be careful about the advice your friends and family give you. People are often heavily biased.

Instead, consider seeing a good counsellor. Counselling will help you both to open up about how you’re feeling about your relationship, to listen to each other less defensively, and to identify and solve the underlying problems. Your spouse may resist counselling because they’re afraid they’re being set up to be attacked. So it might be a good idea to go separately the first time, so each of you gets a chance to put your side of the story.

What did your partner do that’s made you feel so bad? Is it possible to forgive them? Perhaps it’s you who needs to be forgiven? Can you forgive yourself? If any of that feels impossible, talk to your counsellor.

They’ll help you to decide whether you can forgive one another, and how to do it.

And if you can’t find a way to save your marriage, be prepared to feel lots of emotions. Because leaving even the worst relationship can be surprisingly hard. You’ll feel lonely, struggle to concentrate, endlessly obsess about your ex, find yourself crying, feeling down, worthless and foolish. You’re sure you’ll never find love again.

But you will. You’ll be sad for a while. But wiser. And eventually much happier.