You’ve been together now for about 14 years. For the past four-to-five years, you’ve wondered if you can stay together any longer. You’re interests have changed, you don’t enjoy doing things together as much. You find you are impatient and want to have the closeness, with someone, you used to have with each other.

Your time is spent running from home, to soccer games, to business meetings, to doctor appointments. There is little time left over to spend together and you just don’t want to anymore. It is too much work to bridge the gap that has been created. Your 12-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son are the lights of your life and spending time with them is much more fulfilling. You don’t want to think about what your life will be like when they are older and they don’t need you so much anymore. Perhaps, you think, that will be the time to consider leaving the marriage.

In the meantime, the distance between you and your spouse widens. You don’t talk to each other so nicely anymore. Your tempers are short and you sometimes say things in front of the children you regret both because of the content and because you have been yelling. You are aware you may be doing some harm to the children as they watch the two of you “go at it” with each other. You find yourself thinking about the friend you periodically have lunch with at work, in a different way. You can talk to him/her more easily than with your spouse.

These thoughts are the ones that start people on the road to thinking about divorce. The dissatisfaction with your relationship sometimes feels like there is no turning back. So what do you do about it? Will it be better for the children if you split up or if you stay together? Should you try couples therapy? Do you want the marriage to work? Whatever decision you eventually make, it will be about your entire family, not just you and your spouse. With some families, staying together will be more beneficial to them and their children. In other families, because of the level of conflict, children have a better chance of prospering, post-divorce, if the conflict can be avoided in that way.

It is often helpful to meet with a therapist who can help you think through your dilemma. Your friends are not as helpful as you might think, as they often have divided loyalties to you and your spouse. Your relatives will more than likely want to support you and may not be as objective in their suggestions and advice as you might need.

A therapist can help you think about your options and work through the thoughts and feelings you are having. One important thing to remember is that, just because you think something, doesn’t make it true or real. When facing a decision of this importance, you will want to be as clear as possible about your choices, and what you really do know, versus what you think you know.

  1. Would I be willing, or not, to see if our marriage can be saved?
  2. What are the probable impacts on the children of staying in, or leaving the marriage?
  3. What might the financial impact be for one or both of us to leave our home?
  4. Will it be possible for my spouse and I to be better co-parents than we have been married parents?
  5. What will divorcing “fix,” or will I bring the same issues into the divorce that have been plaguing the marriage?

These are just a few of the many questions you will be faced with. How you answer these questions can make a huge difference in how you might stay in the marriage, or how you might leave it. Starting with as much clarity as is possible will make either decision easier to live with for you, your spouse, and your children. Whereas making this decision in haste will not likely add to its ease later on.