Oct 03

To Divorce or Not: Questions and Resources to Consider

To divorce or not: a huge and difficult question for many. Should I stay or should I go? As contemplating this can often be a long and drawn out process, many experts have weighed in on how to do it most effectively. Below are some resources that include pertinent checklists to consider.

Leigh Newman‘s article on “when to divorce” (The Huffington Post) is based on interviews with some therapists. The following are six questions Newman concludes are important to ask oneself:

  1. Do I Have A Hard Or A Soft Problem? “Hard” problems are abuse and/or untreated addictions, for example. Most others are “soft” and more likely to be subjected to one’s own (and possibly others’) intense scrutiny.
  2. Am I Already Divorced? If your relationship is already an emotionally distant one, in other words. But, if this is the case, think about why you’ve stayed together so far.
  3. Who’s Changing the Snow Tires? Thinking into the future about all the details of being apart may help partners assess whether it’s what they really want.
  4. How Often Do I Use the Verb Deserve? And can you get everything you think you deserve in a partner?
  5. How Afraid Am I of Not Knowing? Is the uncertainty about whether desired change is possible so unbearable you feel compelled to make a decision without thoroughly addressing the issues? “Confronting the possibility that fear is the prime mover in your decision can save you from possible regret.”
  6. Can I Feel Even The Tiniest Snippet of Love? In order to ease any transitions for all involved, trying to call upon this may be important whether you stay or whether you leave.

In addition, two particular books by experienced therapists have helped many of their readers. (Some have said these were better than therapy.)

1. Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out of Your Relationship (1996) by Mira Kirshenbaum

First, go to Divorce Source, where you can find the 36 questions Kirshenbaum poses in her book. Each addresses an important aspect of your relationship, whether in the past, present, or future. Look these over and then decide whether the whole book is a must-buy.

2. Contemplating Divorce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Deciding Whether to Stay or Go (2008) by Susan Gadoua

Gadoua helps you identify whether you are fear-avoidant or goal-oriented in your process and whether you’re focused more on your own needs or those of your partner and/or family—or somewhere in between.

Emphasized also are such factors as “the marital indecision cycle” and specific “workability factors” having to do with safety, love, and esteem needs. Examples of some important and related considerations are offered in a book excerpt on her Psychology Today blog.

Below is an interview with author Gadoua about her clinical work with couples on the brink: