My son had a horrible car accident a few years ago. Thankfully, he came out physically unscathed – very shaken, his car was totaled – yet he was fine. He was still in college at the time. As he tells the story, it was after surviving that accident that he realized he had been given this chance so that he could do something for others. From that moment on he began to focus on education reform. Almost 10 years later, he’s a Ph.D. student at Stanford in Education, Technology and Entrepreneurship.
We all wish we could have a clear vision of what we want to do and where we’d like our lives to go just like my son – particularly around getting divorced. The hardest thing to do is make that decision to move forward with the actual divorce. I have yet to meet someone who is divorced who knew with certainty that it was the right solution. Even in the worst of cases, there is trepidation – maybe things will get better if we stay together, he/she promised not to drink anymore, perhaps we need a better marriage counselor, the kids will be a mess – there is always a logical reason why divorce doesn’t make sense.
The truth is that life is uncertain, you have no way of knowing what will happen if you stay in your marriage or if you get divorced. People say that when they met the person they married they ‘just knew’ they were the one. At that moment, you have a clear vision of a family and a life with this spouse where you grow old together sitting on the porch watching the sunset. You don’t think about all the things that could go wrong. When you’re deciding whether or not to divorce, you imagine all the possibilities of what can go wrong.
In some cases, after a long period of turmoil, something happens like my son’s accident that finally shakes you into moving forward with a divorce, in most though, it’s a process. There are some steps you can take to help you decide.
- Do a personal happiness assessment. Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D. defines happiness as “pleasure plus meaning.” Using that definition, how happy are you? If that’s too vague, you can take a Happiness Quiz here. Now ask yourself if that state of happiness will sustain you for the rest of your life in your current situation.
- Assuming there is some degree of unhappiness in your life (you are reading a divorce blog after all), what are the sources of your unhappiness? Is it solely your spouse or are there other areas of your life that could improve that will help feed your relationship and make it better?
- Do some visioning. Imagine what your life will look like if you are no longer living with your spouse. What would your days look like? How would it feel to wake up alone, to manage your own finances, to shuttle your children between two homes? What would it be like to have a different partner? These visions may be terribly scary but are they better than living in the situation you’re currently in?
There’s a lot more that will contribute to your decision, particularly the tactical aspects of your family and finances, yet, perhaps these tips will give you some direction to move towards. If you’d like more clarity, schedule a Clarity Session with me and we can talk through your options