Do you know when the marriage is over and it's time for a divorce?

Knowing When It’s Time

One of the hardest things about marriage is knowing when to leave.

For some, the answer is and will always be, “Never, no matter what, no matter how unhappy we are or how unsalvageable the relationship. We’re married, and that means forever.”

For others, personal happiness is important, and an entire life spent in a miserable marriage doesn’t translate into time well spent.

People divorce for any number of reasons:

  • an affair
  • abuse
  • they married before they really knew each other
  • they were never truly in love
  • there was a “trap” involved
  • someone changed after marriage
  • the relationship wasn’t solid enough to make it through the stress of kids, career changes, new and different goals, moves
  • someone expected someone else to change after marriage, etc.


Main Reasons For Divorce

All of the above break down into two pretty standard reasons for divorce:

  • Someone has been hurt beyond repair
  • The relationship was missing something that doomed it from the start, and divorce was inevitable
    • or lasting marital unhappiness if divorce wasn’t an option


It’s Easy And Viable

But divorce is rarely easy, even for those who believe it’s a viable—and even valuable—option.

  • How do you know when all hope is lost?
  • How do you know you’re not simply angry about a fight (or many fights)
    • or that you’re not just giving in to a few months of frustration you simply don’t want to deal with, anymore?
  • How do you know it won’t get better, that you’re not going to change your mind after the paperwork’s been filed and you’re officially divorced?
  • How do you know you won’t regret it?


Do You Just Know?

I’d like to say there’s an easy answer to this that applies to all relationships.

An answer like, “You just know.” Isn’t that what they say about love?

being in love is a wonderful feeling except when it changes
You know when you fall in love. Is that the same when you fall out of love though?

“How do you know when you’re in love?”

“You just know.”

Talking about this over breakfast with my third husband, I said, “There are two ways to determine that it’s time to get divorced: either you know it’s time, or the other person knows it’s time, and you have to accept it.”

“I don’t know,” Victor said. “You’ll sometimes hear people say, ‘We thought it was over. She wanted to leave, but I fought for the marriage, and now we’re stronger than ever.’”

Before I go on, in case you’re distracted by the fact that I’m on my third husband, let me say I know that when you learn someone has been divorced twice (or married three times), it’s tempting to make assumptions: “She doesn’t take marriage seriously.” “She treats divorce too lightly.” “She can’t be trusted.”

These assumptions are natural, and I understand your skepticism; however:

  • I do take marriage seriously, but I don’t believe the contract is ironclad
    • the only truly irreversible decision we make is having children.
  • I don’t treat divorce lightly, but I do think it’s an important option.
  • My father taught me that only untrustworthy people say “trust me.”


But Do You Fight For Your Marriage?

I thought about what Victor said, about people who “fight” for their marriage, and my friend Tonya came to mind.

Tonya is still married to the man who cheated on her ten years ago on the night before her birthday. She found out the next day, when she should have been celebrating. She was devastated when she found out and called me, crying.

“I don’t know what to do,” she said. “He was my best friend, Syl. I can’t believe he did this to me.”

Because she loved him so much, she decided to try to make it work.

This meant slogging her way through the pain and the trust issues while resolving not to use what he did as a way to punish him. She didn’t pretend it never happened, by any means.

She made him understand that he had to take a dominant role in re-earning her trust, but she also made clear that she intended to move forward and create a new relationship with him. New trust.

They had several more years of happiness, but those years weren’t without their problems. They’re experiencing trust issues right now, in fact, and seeing a counselor every now and then.

She’s working on it because she wants to work on it, because she loves him so very much. But she’s recently had to admit to herself that unless he starts wanting it as bad as she does, unless he starts trying the way she is, she might eventually have to divorce him because he will have finally—albeit slowly—hurt her beyond repair.


My Own Divorce Reasons

Neither of my two divorces involved anything as seemingly cut and dry as an affair.

For me, an affair would mean automatic divorce.

I’m not someone who could get past it.

The first divorce fell under “married before we really knew each other,” and the second under “he expected me to change after marriage.” In effect, #2: something was missing that doomed the relationships from the start.


So When Did I Know It Was Time?

Do you know when the marriage is over and it's time for a divorce?
How would you know when your marriage is over and it’s time for you to seek a divorce?


How did I know it was time to leave?

In part, because I knew there was something better out there, someone better for me, someone with whom I would share the kind of love they write about in novels. (“That kind of love isn’t real,” my first ex-husband said. “You’ll never find it.” He was wrong.)

That I knew there was “something better” clearly meant, “This isn’t what I want.”


You Need Marriage Inertia

But the other factor was that the early-stage infatuation eventually wore off and the relationship inertia wasn’t strong enough, anymore, to fool us into believing that what we were feeling was the love of a lasting relationship.

Picturing the rest of our lives with each other didn’t lead to feelings of happiness or contentedness, but dread.

I suppose you could say we just knew.

And if Tonya eventually divorces her husband?

She’ll do it because she knows. It’s time.

The answer really is that simple.

“How do you know when it’s time to leave?”

“You just know.”


When There’s No Desire Left

You know it’s the right time to leave when you have no desire to fight, anymore.

You know because you don’t feel the love, and you don’t have the energy to put forth any effort, because you don’t want to make it work.

Even counselling would be a waste of time, because you know you’d see it as little but that necessary step toward getting out of the marriage with the confidence that you’d “earned” the right to leave.

“That example you used before, the one with Tonya,” you say. “You didn’t really answer Victor’s argument about situations in which one person wants to leave, but the other fights for it and they end up happy. Instead, you got sidetracked by the ‘fighting for it’ and went off on a somewhat related tangent.”


The Real Truth

You’re absolutely right.

Here’s what I actually said to Victor:

“If someone says they want to leave, and the other person decides to fight for the marriage, the only way it will last and end up stronger than ever is if the one who said they wanted to leave wasn’t certain they wanted to leave.”

As someone who wanted to leave a marriage, and whose spouse tried to fight for it, Victor — who ultimately ended up getting the divorce — knows this better than anyone.

If you’re having doubts about leaving, and if your doubts have to do with your feelings for your spouse and NOT with how you’re going to manage it financially or how your friends will react or how you’ll split up the savings account, it’s not time to leave.

“What if I make the wrong choice?” you say.

If you’re asking yourself this question, if you truly aren’t sure it’s time to leave, then it probably isn’t time to leave.

Try again.


Speak Your Mind, With Your Opinion

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  • Should you give up or always look to save your marriage?
  • Do you think that you ARE enough?
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And thanks for reading too – Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

When Is It Time To Divorce? 1

Sylvia D. Lucas is the Author of popular book What Every Woman Wishes Modern Men Knew About Women. Do check it out for yourself.

Sylvia D – who has written posts on GeekandJock.

15 thoughts on “When Is It Time To Divorce?”
  1. Sylvia, appreciate the article and the insights you’ve provided on the process a person goes through when they’re feeling like it may be time for divorce. This choice is seldom easy but it is one that must be made sometimes because there are no other options left to consider between the partners.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Eric.
      Divorce is certaqinly an undesirable option in most cases. It’s a tough choice to make after you married for all those right reasons.
      I would say that marriage isn’t easy and before any divorce, consider carefully as to whether there’s anything else you or them can do to save the marriage.
      Divorce is always the last resort, don’t you think?

  2. Oh wow, I just clicked through to read this from the activity stream on Martin’s comment. While I haven’t gone through a divorce myself, I have 2 sailing buddies who are both facing off with their own impending divorces so this will be great for them to check out.
    Thanks for great and well written account, Sylvia – even I enjoyed it lol

  3. I fought hard to save my marriage. We had that breaking point where I realized that we had two totally different ideas for marriage. I wanted a physical, sexual relationship, he did not. We tried everything, and I know I have no regrets and I’m at peace with the divorce. He loved me and I loved him, but it wasn’t enough to keep our marriage intact.

    1. Thanks so much for your visit and more imortantly, sharing your story with us.
      I must say I’m astonished that a guy wouldn’t want a part of a dynamic and sexual relationship though. You could write a pretty interesting guest blog for us on that topic if you had an interest in doing it.
      But yeah, marriages do happen and that’s a part of life. Typically, each other’s journey takes them on differing paths and usually you don’t see that split until the gap is too wide. Sounds like something similar happened to you guys, huh?
      Are you OK now and are you involved with anyone that’s more compatiable?

      1. My divorce was final in February. I’m not dating yet, but I also still live with my ex husband as we wait for our condo to sell! I’d be happy to do a guest blog post. (You can also see my blog for more on my story.)

        1. Way cool, Kat – just read your last post actually and commented – beautiful person, your Dad.
          Thanks too for joining our community and really looking forward to future stories from you here.
          Much love to you.

        2. Oh I read and commented on your blog Kat – great read and story.
          We look forward to a future guest post from you too – already emailed you so let’s make that happen soon, huh?

  4. Hi, Maya. I'm glad this helped you feel even a little bit better (more certain, maybe?) about what's happening. Which is not to say I'm glad you're getting divorced, but of course it's important that you feel sure that it's the right thing to do. Best to you and your kids. – Syl

  5. Love , we all do it , it what makes us all connected. Love with all your heart and you will see it multiply. Have you ever been so full of love you think you are going to explode it is the best feeling of all. Just because you love somebody doesnt mean you have to be married to them. You can still love them no matter what happens. Love each other
    Chante Rudder

  6. This is such a great post. I am in the midst of a divorce as we speak, and this is something that confirms things I already felt from within. The core of my problems are because of my kids, but having done what he did, it really is irreversible and there is no turning back. I am very happy I found this site.

    1. The first approach to save your maairrge is reevaluating yourself. Make a list of things that you do wrong and turn them into positve. Your responsibilities should not have any boundaries and don’t get over head or consider yourself as equal with your husband. Respect him as the head of the house hold. Get yourself motivated and never shy away from you husband to tell him that you love him even if you will get a negative response. So one you figure out what you are doing wrong, what are the roots for you maairrge down falls, have a better understandable communication with you husband. Know what to say, how to say, and when to say it whatever in you mind. Learn to always say yes followed by what ifs if you understand or want him to explain more. Continue getting focused on positive and loving yourself on what you are doing. Do not attempt to please him but only the man upstairs. Because if he figure it out that you are trying to please him, he might act otherwise but as long as you are focused on turning you maairrge round, he will figure out that you are changed and begins to give you positive responses. When communicating, develop a plan of action focused on positive and truth, talk about where things stand, get your feeling out on the table, accept responsibilities for you part. dicuss what each of you need in that moment eg personal need, drive, vulnerability and avoid choices that lower the ability to maintain commitment and trustworthy. Discuss what you want the future hold for the two of you.

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