Separation or divorce can be one of the most agonising decisions of anyone’s life. With few exceptions, one or both members of the couple will have mulled over the question for months or even years before making any decision. Many will have spent considerable time in marriage counseling and tried numerous tactics to save the relationship. In many cases, this can result in people staying in unhappy relationships far longer than they should, but in others, the commitment to working hard to find a way to save the relationship can be successful and lead to reconciliation. Few situations are clear cut, and there are numerous things to consider and steps to take before making what will be a life-changing decision.
Related: In January “ex” marks the spot
Speak to a Family Lawyer: You do not have to be in the throes of divorce to speak with a legal professional about your situation. Consulting with a qualified professional can help you to understand the numerous financial, practical and parental implications of your decisions and put things in perspective. An Australian friend of mine, after speaking with one of the most prestigious family lawyers Melbourne has to offer, realised that leaving her husband would have far-reaching effects that would potentially leave her financially unstable and negatively impact their three children in ways she had not considered. Armed with these facts, she made a strong commitment to working hard on her marriage and today they are still married and have rediscovered happiness together.
Reach Out to Family and Friends: For many, the possibility of a relationship ending can bring with it shame and disappointment that make it difficult to share with those close to you. Keeping things bottled up inside is rarely a recipe for measured decision making, and can lead to elevated stress and emotional anguish. Friends and family that love you and your partner can frequently be just the right sounding board to talk through your emotions and feelings and get the kind of feedback that you need to make the right decision.
Negative Behaviours: Where a partner is physically, psychologically or sexually abusive you may need to consider immediate action to protect yourself and any children of the relationship. The same is true in cases of serious drug or alcohol abuse. You should immediately seek a safe place and look into getting urgent help for your partner in the form of psychological counseling, rehabilitation or other interventions.
Think of the Kids: It is crucial to remember that your decisions will dramatically impact your children’s lives in both the short and long terms. Children of parents that have separated or divorced statistically achieve lower grades and are more likely to drop out of school, are three times more likely to require psychological treatment, to experience ill health or self-harm and a host of other negative outcomes. Depending on the severity of the home situation and the age of the children, delaying separation or avoiding it altogether may be the best thing that you can do for your kids.
Financial Stability: While finances should never be the determining factor, we all need to be financially secure. Divorce is unimaginably expensive, and life after marriage can be extremely difficult for many, especially mothers who have not worked for some time. Anyone considering leaving a long-term relationship should consider their financial circumstances very carefully and ensure that if they do leave, that they have solid plans in place for how to support themselves and their children in the next stage of life.
There are certainly innumerable other factors that you should consider before making any decisions about your and your family’s futures. However, hopefully, this will provide anybody weighing up their options some useful food for thought.
You might also enjoy: How to help your child get over divorce