Has your spouse told you that they are seriously considering divorce? It is not uncommon to go through a wide range of emotions, including: anger, rage, sadness, denial, and/or fear. When your spouse has told you that they want a divorce, you are frequently not your best self. Often, in a state of crisis, behavior can become binary. Either you completely disconnect from your spouse, or you completely suffocate them. You either deny that they were serious and hope for the best while ignoring the subject, or you do EVERYTHING you can think to convince them that you and your marriage are worth fighting for. It is important that you do neither if you wish to save your marriage.
Here are a number of things you can do if your spouse has begun to discuss divorce.
- If your spouse uses the term 'divorce' in an argument, let them clearly know that you do not want a divorce. Tell them you want divorce off of the table and that you will do everything you need to do to make your marriage work. Make a request that neither of you use the word 'divorce' because that word can trigger spouses to feel overwhelmed.
- Insist that you both get help together and do not accept 'no' from your spouse about this. Not seeking help for a marriage that is failing is irresponsible. Go to a marriage retreat and/or seek help from a trained marriage counselor. Ultimately, if your spouse refuses to go, you need to seek help for your marriage and keep inviting your spouse.
- If your spouse requests that you move out and you genuinely want to save your marriage by making the changes your spouse has wanted you to make, refuse to move out. Let your spouse know that you are determined to save your marriage and will not cooperate in ending it. If you have been abusive in your marriage or your spouse is afraid of you, you should proceed with moving out and attempt to work on your marriage from a distance.
- If you are separated from your spouse, you can work on your marriage by working on yourself. Use this time as a wake up call to become a better person. Make a list of the things your partner has been saying to you that they want you to change and change them!
- Speak about the good of your marriage. Instead of pointing out the good that you bring to your marriage or how your partner is failing to do their part, point out the things that attracted you to them in the first place. Remind yourself of why you fell for them and remind them that you appreciate them.
- Think about what your spouse has complained about in your marriage and decide you are going to make a unilateral change for the sake of your marriage. Now is not the time to be defensive or to justify why you have made some poor choices in your relationship. Now is the time for you to make change. Some couples divorce because one spouse is waiting for the other to make necessary changes. If you wish to save your marriage, it is up to you to make the change now.
- If you are feeling angry with your spouse due to a specific conflict, ask yourself if it is worth losing your marriage over if it doesn't change. It it is a minor issue that gets under your skin, but isn't worth leaving your spouse over, let them know! Reassure them that having this issue doesn't shake your commitment to them.
- Accept that some of your needs will need to be met elsewhere. No one person is going to be able to meet all of your needs. You will need to work to get some your needs met from other people.
Research in the United States and in Australia has found that 40% of divorced people regret their divorce. Research has also found that those who divorced believed that their marriage could have been saved if one of the spouses had worked harder for the marriage.
If you are interested in meeting with a counselor/therapist to help you save your marriage, I'd love to help you. Discernment Counseling is designed for couples in your specific situation. I genuinely believe it is never too late to do your part to save your marriage. Your motivation to change and fix what is broken is a bigger predictor of keeping your marriage together than what you marriage has been through.