Should  get divorced?

Did you know that September heralds a spike in the number of people Googling the word ‘divorce’. Should I get divorced? is a question that many people ask themselves internally, ask their friends and also search on line. The truth is that only you can decide whether you should get divorced or not, but if you are struggling to decide, how do you work out if it’s time to call it a day on your relationship?

1. Step back and just park the idea

Getting divorced or leaving your relationship is a big decision and isn’t one that you should take in haste as a knee jerk reaction to a situation (and I’m not talk about incidents of domestic abuse here). I’m talking about decisions made in anger and or frustration. Of course, it may be that there is a catalogue of incidents that justify you coming to your decision. That’s fine. That’s ok. The point is, be aware of patterns of behaviour or catalogues of incidents and be clear in your own mind, in a calm and rational state that your marriage is over.

As September approaches, and you begin to get your children ready to go ‘back to school’, it’s easy to think that a stressful and fraught summer holiday will be remedied by divorce. Remember that the lives of your children are very different because they are growing and changing all the time. Many parents will recognise just how quickly their children change after a few weeks in Year 7, but adult lives doesn’t change that quickly. You can decide when to make a new start, but September doesn’t make it so.


2. Write a list of what you want from your relationship

When we can’t see the wood for the trees, writing things down really helps. Take some paper and a pen if you don’t keep a journal and write down the things that you want from your relationship emotionally. Its important that you don’t censor yourself at this stage because doing so will prevent you being honest about what you really want. When you’ve written your list, park it again. Just leave it for a while and let it settle. ‘Brain dumping’ can bring to the surface unconscious thoughts and feelings so just be kind to yourself. Let whatever thoughts and feeling bubble up.

3. When you’re ready, review your list.

Allowing yourself some time allows you to revisit your list with fresh eyes. Its important that you do this exercise when you’re in the best state that you can be. So, when you’re calm and relaxed, look at your list. Mark on it in one coloured pen which of those emotional items are being met in your relationship. How does it feel to see that? Next, ask yourself what are you willing to do to change the situation if anything? With another coloured pen, write down what you can do to support that change.  The thing is, you can’t change anyone but yourself, so if you want changes in your relationship, you must be willing to create the changes yourself.


4. Creating changes in your relationship.

When we are lost, sad and frustrated in our relationship, it easy to get into blame. “Its not me it’s you…”, or “You never do what I ask…” “You never listen”. Blame never works. It creates bad feeling in both of you and doesn’t move things forward.

I often write in my blogs about your point of view, and how your point of view is always right for you because it is your point of view. It doesn’t mean that you are ‘right’. To be ‘right’ the other person has to be ‘wrong’, and from their point of view, they are ‘right’. You go round in circles in an argument. Been there? Probably!

Remember that asking is not nagging

So how do you do it differently?

You talk from you, using the word I.

“I feel…”

‘I would like…”

“I feel upset when I cook dinner and the dishes are left for too”.

Notice that  I didn’t use the word “you” . You is a blaming word in this context.

You, and you alone have the power to ask for what you want and need in your relationship. Now I’m not saying that by asking you will receive, but if you don’t ask you don’t get, right?

Remember that asking is not nagging. No one likes to be nagged. So how do you ask without nagging?

Asking without nagging is easy!

It’s about the intention you set at the request.

If you believe inside that your request will be ignored, the other person will hear it in your voice. This doesn’t actually make them more likely to do the task.

You are probably well acquainted with that voice in your head that reminds you of all the things you aren’t good at? Yes? Thought so. Hearing that doubt from someone else just reinforces it.

Explaining your ‘why’ is not justifying

So, ask believing that the task will be done.

If you have not explained yourself in the past, but rather issued a long list of ‘commands’, be gentle and explain your ‘why’.

Explaining your ‘why’ is not justifying.

“Will you please (put the bins out) (walk the dog) (load the dishwasher) (insert your pet peeve). It will really help me today because …. and knowing that you will do this for me will help me feel….” This gives greater depth to your communication. You are not just giving orders but explaining the benefit to you of the request being carried out on an emotional level, even though the task itself my be very practical. Greater levels of communication pave the way for greater intimacy in your relationship. Whether you have been together 2 years or 20,  your partner cannot read your mind. Chances are, if they think they can, they’ll be getting some of it wrong. Very wrong. So stop expecting that one day your partner is just going to ‘get it’ without you communicating.

As humans and and partners in relationships, we all want to win. So give your other half and yourself a win. A request for help (you win) and the result knowing how you feel positively about it (a win for them).

Ask yourself how can you be more attentive, more loving, more giving? If children are a major part of your lives, what time can you make together, without them?

Love is not always enough

5. When nothing works

You may be reading this and thinking that you’ve tried all this and nothing worked. Are you willing to keep trying?

If the answer is no, that is ok.

Love is not always enough.

Relationships end.

People move on.

It’s how you do it that will influence the outcome. If you’ve given yourself some time to consider your options and work through your emotions and communicate with your partner, divorcing will be easier(this doesn’t mean less painful). Because you know that you gave it everything you have. You know there was nothing left. This will help you to keep your head together when you need to start making practical decisions about the children, property and money.

You might want to try Family Mediation. You can come to Family Mediation at anytime and the sooner you come when your relationship is ending the better. The mediator will help you and your partner discuss whats important to each of you and help you get clear on your options. They will help you keep the lines of communication open, which will make the process much easier.

Emma Heptonstall is a Family Mediator at Your Family First in York, UK. Your Family First can be contacted on 01904 697760 or by email visit us at