Life does not stop after divorce, it begins anew!
Long after the wedding cake is eaten, many of us, if we are honest with ourselves, have contemplated divorce at one point or another in our married lives, but when do reach the point of no return?
It may have been a fleeting thought after an all-out brawl or deep thought and planning in our head for years. Either way it’s hard to know when it is really over.
Most of us are inclined to give our spouses another chance, if not for them, but for our children. Staying for the children is a noble plan; as long as no one is being hurt emotionally or physically and the couple does not hate each other. One positive outcome from staying is the children won’t have to contend with two homes, however if the couple perpetually fight then that negates any positives for the children. Also, staying for the children can only work for so long. In some capacity it has to be a win win for the spouses or the only thing that will develop is resentment.
Before my divorce, I know every stone was unturned to see if the relationship was salvageable. I read self-help books and saw three marriage therapists over the course of three years, but in the end we were not able to continue. However even after knowing it was over, I lived in limbo for a while before I made the final decision.
There are some clear-cut signs to be on the lookout for:
1. Do you still have feelings for your spouse?
This may seem obvious, but it really isn’t. Sometimes we get caught up in the emotions from a problem, which can cause a lack of emotional closeness. The questions you may want to ask yourself are: Do I still have feelings of love and affection? Do I care if my spouse starts dating again? If you can answer yes to these questions, then maybe you should wait. The problem could just be your anger talking. You certainly don’t want to break apart a family over anger, for you will have regrets. On the other hand, if you do not have loving feelings for your spouse, but instead have intense feelings of dislike or hate, then that is not something that can be fixed.
2. Have you lost respect and trust in your spouse?
Respect is an honor bestowed on those we admire and love who have proven to us they can be respected. Restoring respect once it has ceased is somewhere between difficult and impossible to retrieve. Trust is quite similar to respect in that lost trust, unless it can be tied to a specific issue that can be resolved, is usually irreversible. One resolvable example of trust is infidelity. Many couples survive the loss of trust from infidelity, by doing the work needed to repair the relationship.
3. Have you built the Great Wall of China between you?
Do you cringe at the thought of being alone with your spouse? Do you sleep in separate bedrooms or sleep in the same bed with an invisible wall? Often so much anger and resentment have developed over the years that you both prefer to keep the wall standing as an obstruction between what you really feel or want to say. It can also be a barrier from sex. If you and your spouse do not have any affection between you, or never really “makeup” from a fight, then that is a sure sign of things to come.
4. Do you feel like the line in Meat Loaf’s song Paradise by the Dashboard Light, “I’m praying for the end of time?
If you don’t know the song, you must listen to it. It is divided into several parts and tells a story. A high school couple are on a date and experiencing “paradise by the dashboard light” and the boy insists they are “gonna go all the way tonight.” Before the girl commits to “doing it” she wants a commitment from him that they will be together forever. He reluctantly agrees and years later he is “praying for the end of time” because he doesn’t want to spend another minute with her. The point here is: if you cannot stand spending any time together, feel trapped, and cannot picture yourself growing old together, then you are most likely ready to call it quits.
5. Do you feel you would leave in a heartbeat if you knew finances were not an issue?
If you seriously dream of your life without your spouse and are trying to get your finances in order so you can make that happen, the time is imminent. Waiting to figure out finances and staying for the sake of the children are two of the most held mantras espoused from spouses angling to leave a marriage. The truth is, if you had no choice and had to leave immediately, you would make the necessary financial arrangements to pull it off. Remember the only commodity that you cannot replace is time. And time spent in an un-peaceful, unhappy situation that you tell yourself you can only change “if I had enough money” is perhaps the worst possible use of that irreplaceable time.
In the end, only you can make the decision to stay or to leave. If you identify with a few of these signs, then you may have reached the point of no return and the road to divorce has already been paved. However, it’s up to you to go through with it or stop in your tracks and make changes toward reconciling. Either way you choose, it will take enormous work.
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