The health and sustainability of your marriage is in question. You can run, but you can’t hide if your spouse wants a divorce. If it’s you who’s fantasizing about a divorce nonstop, you may be thinking to yourself, “Should I stay or should I hit the road?”
You may feel like you need to get this divorce over with, but with so many factors coming into play, how can you be sure divorce is the “right” answer? Some days, you’re 100 percent confident in your decision, while other days you feel incredibly guilty even thinking about it. A lot of spouses go back and forth like this for years.“Maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to end this, but then again, I’ve been thinking about divorce for five years.”
On the other hand, maybe your spouse just told you that he or she wants a divorce and it came as a complete shock – it’s like it came out of nowhere and you didn’t see it coming. “You want a divorce? We’ve been intimate this whole time and the other day we were making plans for our European vacation. Is there someone else?” If this happened to you, you’re probably feeling shocked and devastated – and it’s probably affecting you physically.
Most books, blogs and articles on divorce are written specifically for people who’ve already decided to get a divorce, or for people who’ve been served divorce papers and don’t have a choice in the matter. Few written works focus on the undecided spouse, on the spouse who isn’t sure if they should stay or if they should go.
As divorce attorneys, our experience is that divorce can hit you like a ton of bricks and because it’s so emotional, many spouses are unprepared for what lays ahead.
Most Couples Begin Divorce Unprepared
A spouse may have caught their husband or wife cheating with their co-worker or a neighbor so they think, “I’ve had it with him (or her).” The next business day they’re calling up a divorce attorney and making arrangements to meet. Fueled by intense emotions that are still blazing hot, they storm into the lawyer’s office ready to pull the plug on their marriage. Then, as things cool off at home and the guilty spouse begs for forgiveness, the innocent spouse begins to question their actions to call off the marriage.
Of course, there’s almost always a backstory, especially when adultery rears its ugly head. Rarely, does a spouse cheat when they’re happily married. Before the discovery of the affair, there might have been doubts on one or both sides. The guilty spouse may have been having “emotional affairs” for some time before they finally broke their marital vows. Or, both spouses may have been regretting their union, wishing they were free from the velvet shackles of an empty marriage.
Going back to the innocent spouse who caught their significant other cheating, it’s not uncommon for them to find themselves wondering again, “Should we stick it out and try to make it work?” In truth, so many spouses struggle with this question, whether or not anyone is cheating. This brings us to the three divorce dilemmas, which are:
1. I want a divorce, but I don’t know if I should. Divorce is a monumental decision that will affect your children, your finances, and your future. You know that if you make a wrong move, you could regret it for the rest of your life. You could be extremely unhappy and want out, but you don’t know if divorce is truly the best decision. Unfortunately, no one can decide for you. You’re the only one who can decide what’s best for you. If you’re truly unhappy, our advice is to have a positive outlook and ask yourself, “Am I prepared to go it alone? If I have to be on my own, can I take care of myself?” If you’re in good health and have a strong emotional support system, you can do anything you put your mind to.
2. My spouse wants a divorce but I don’t. If your spouse takes the initiative, you do not want to stay in a reactive position. If he or she files for divorce, there’s nothing you can do to stop it. While naturally, you may feel crushed and emotionally devastated, feelings of helplessness must be given a shelf life. You don’t want to be clinging on to the financial security and the familiar just because it’s easier. You deserve better than to stay in a marriage that’s based more on illusion than reality.
3. I want a divorce because my spouse won’t change. If this is your outlook, you could be blaming the demise of your marriage on your spouse. Perhaps your spouse is controlling, irresponsible, selfish, or nagging, but remember, it takes two to break up a marriage. If you’re blaming your spouse for all of your marital problems, it’s time to take responsibility for your part and shift the blame away from your spouse onto both of you. Even if you are incompatible, it’s time to accept your spouse for who he or she is, treat them with respect and find the best way to go your separate ways, amicably. Remember, it’s much easier and affordable to have a collaborative divorce than it is to end up in divorce court.
Related: 9 Divorce Mistakes to Avoid Starting Now!
To get your divorce questions answered, contact us to meet with a Los Angeles divorce lawyer for free.