When to Get Divorced: How to Know When Your Marriage is Over

Life presents us with certain decisions that will never have easy answers. Regardless of how long we consider, or how many pro-con lists we write, ultimately we must trust ourselves to know when the marriage is over and make the right decision.

If you and your spouse have grown apart, argue frequently, or experienced cheating in the relationship, you may be wondering if you should get divorced. Divorce is one of those decisions that rarely presents a clear choice. It’s a deeply personal decision that involves innumerable factors and potential outcomes.

Here are some questions to ask yourself  that may help you decide if your marriage is over and you should  consider filing for divorce.

Should I get a divorce or would counseling help save my marriage?

It’s no secret that communication is key to a healthy marriage, but some people aren’t good at expressing their emotions, especially when they feel most vulnerable. If you and your spouse haven’t spoken about the roots of your issues, you might be missing an opportunity to understand one another’s feelings and mend your relationship.

Marriage counseling facilitates communication in a neutral, productive space, helping you understand your spouse’s point of view and motivations, along with your own. This empathy and growth is part of the “work” of marriage, and often couples who attend counseling find a new path of moving forward together.

Is the problem in your marriage financial?

If you and your spouse are having financial trouble, that added stress could be affecting your marriage. Many people find conversations about money to be uncomfortable and fraught with tension, and financial disagreements can quickly morph into marital discord.

Before deciding your marriage is over and filing for a divorce, consider pursuing financial counseling that can help you understand your situation and make plans for improving it. By separating out your financial issues from your relationship, you may find the personal problems are more manageable than you thought.

How do children factor into your decision about divorce?

It’s incredibly common to worry about how divorce may impact your children’s emotional and even physical well-being. Depending on a child’s age, their parents’ divorce can be frightening and confusing, and even promote feelings of anger and resentment.

Parents who want to protect their children from the pain of divorce often make the choice to remain married until their kids reach adulthood. However well-intentioned this decision may be, staying together can do more harm than good.

While myriad resources exist to help children work through the emotional pain of divorce, parents cannot shield them from the anguish and animosity that often accompany an unhappy marriage. Seeing their parents live in such a sad state may impact them more negatively than experiencing the difficulty of divorce.

 How do external pressures like family or religion influence your perspective on divorce?

Marriage usually involves more than the joining of two people. Their parents, siblings and extended family become invested in their relationship with the couple, and their loved one’s spouse as an individual. In some cases, friendships and even business partnerships form as a result of the marriage. Close ties such as these can make you feel unspoken pressure — and hear direct pleas — to stay married.

In families that adhere closely to certain religious faiths, divorce is forbidden or greatly discouraged. This may be another reason your parents or family members are pressuring you to maintain your marriage, however unhappy it may be. Each person must work through these personal issues, unique to their life to decide when/if divorce is right for them. Counseling can benefit anyone looking to sort out their feelings and find a happy path forward in life.

If you are experiencing relationship-based violence or abuse, there are many resources available to help. Whether you decide to stay married or get divorced, you deserve a life free from violence. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 for help 24/7.

Are you staying together solely for practical reasons?

Divorce can be a complicated, lengthy process, and feels like a burden that will be piled on top of life’s other demands. You also may feel connected to practical reasons to stay together, including your or your spouse’s work situations and health insurance needs. Maybe you’re even worried about the real estate market, and whether it’s a good time to sell your house.

These practical concerns do win out for some people, keeping them legally bound to one another despite personal unhappiness. No one can deny the difficulty of the divorce process and the practical ways it alters your life. However, it’s hard to overstate the negative personal effects of living in an unhappy and unfulfilling relationship.

Can separation help a marriage?

If you’re seriously considering divorce, you may first try separation from your spouse.   Because this could have an impact on your case, you should consult with counsel first. 

Separation can mean living in different homes for a period of time, with one spouse moving in with a family member or friend or renting an apartment.  Separation for some also includes situations in which spouses occupy the same residence while effectively living separate lives.

During separation, you have physical and mental space to work out how you really feel. Many couples engage in therapy while they are separated. They can decide whether to stay married and continue working on their relationship, or pursue the divorce process.

Our Team is Here to Help

If you have questions about getting divorced, Sterk Family Law can help you examine your options. We have a strong resource network to connect you with additional resources that can help in every aspect of your life and relationship. Call us at 815-600-8950 or complete the form below to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation.


This is a legal advertisement from Sterk Family Law Group. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. This article is for informational and educational purposes only.

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