Deciding to divorce is a huge step and it’s difficult to make the right choice. Having second thoughts about a divorce when you are over fifty is natural because you will be facing major changes in your life. Whether you or your spouse wants the divorce, take time to think before you act. Ask yourself some simple questions and think about your relationship systematically.
Ask Yourself These Questions
Do you still love your partner? Are you just threatening divorce because you’re angry or want control? Are you willing to try couples counseling? Are you and your spouse willing to change? Do you settle things when you fight? Can you forgive and forget? Do you listen to each other? Are you working toward the same goals? If most of the answers are “no,” you may need a divorce. If your reasons for wanting a divorce are not clear, systematically think about the pluses and minuses of your marriage before making the decision, and take your time.
Pros and Cons of Divorce
There are positive and negative reasons people stay married. In a viable marriage, both parties feel safe and share personal, emotional and financial security. Love, shared values and fidelity are signs of a solid marriage. On the other hand, people stay in a marriage out of fear or remain in an emotionally abusive relationship because they have poor self-confidence and can’t break free. If two people don’t trust each other and can’t communicate, their marriage is in trouble. If your marriage is based on fear, financial dependence, or low self-confidence, you may need a divorce.
Grey Divorce Has Doubled
The divorce rate among older Americans has doubled in the last twenty years. More than half of all grey divorces involve a first marriage of over twenty years. Researchers are not certain why more older Americans are divorcing or why most divorces are initiated by women. Perhaps it’s because women want marriage to be a major source of happiness and when that doesn’t happen, they divorce. Perhaps it’s because women are educated, financially independent and crave autonomy.
Causes of Divorce
Different core values, substance abuse, sexual rejection, chronic financial disagreements, abuse, or infidelity are signs of a failing marriage. Value differences create frustration and anger. Addiction creates serious problems if the abusing person won’t get professional help. Some couples drift into a sexless marriage, leaving one spouse frustrated and unhappy. Sex is the glue that binds a couple together; when it’s missing, the marriage is in danger. If one partner wants to save money while the other wants to spend, that creates serious stress. Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse are major causes of divorce, as is adultery.
How to Know If You Should Divorce
There is no single answer. The best I can do is to give you some guidelines to help you make this difficult choice. Are you staying in a marriage because of fear or the pain of separation or thinking about divorce because you want more out of life than an unhappy marriage? Then you may need a divorce. On the other hand, if you are thinking about a divorce because you are unhappy, you should look at yourself first; it’s your job to make you happy.
Don’t be imprisoned by fear. Think about your goals and interests and also consider what effect the divorce will have on your family, children and friends. Don’t be selfish, but don’t spend all your time trying to please others. Try to balance everyone’s needs. If your marriage is one-sided, you may need a divorce. If you and your spouse are willing to work on your relationship you should give your marriage a chance. However, if your spouse won’t go to counseling, that’s not a good sign.
Signs of a Good Marriage
People have five basic needs: survival, safety, love, esteem, and actualization. If your marriage is in survival mode, you probably need to end it; if your marriage is in the actualization mode it’s fine. If you trust each other, are honest and can communicate, you have a safe relationship. If none of these factors are present, your marriage needs work. If you love each other, share interests and are faithful, you have a good marriage. If not, consider a divorce. Finally, if you show mutual respect, share common goals and are willing to work on your marriage, you have a chance to stay married. If there is contempt, few shared interests, and no willingness to work on the relationship, you probably need a divorce.
If two or more negative factors exist in your relationship, you should visit a marriage counselor or collaborative divorce attorney. Even if there is no major problem in your marriage, several minor irritants may combine to tip the marital scales toward divorce. If a couple can’t communicate they will have difficulties adjusting to all the minor problems inherent in marriage. Keeping things to yourself is not healthy for a relationship. Deciding to divorce is a tough decision–talk to your friends, family and a counselor to help you make the right choice.
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