How to Stop a Divorce…The Best Advice
Whether you had an idea that things were not going so well or you were caught completely off guard, your spouse has now stated with clarity that divorce is the next step.
Even if you had been fighting on a regular basis and threatening to divorce or separate, the feeling has changed and now, with a clearer statement made, it actually seems about to happen.
You may be telling yourself that it’s the best thing to do. Or you may find yourself in a panic, unable to wrap your mind around what divorce would literally mean for you and your family.
Your spouse says they want to divorce and you don’t know how do you handle it.
Divorce is obviously quite common in our world. However it is rarely an easy thing to go through with, especially from an emotional perspective.
This is an area of experience for which there is no course of study. Your instincts and emotions may be compelling you to do one thing but it is probably going to be in your best interest not to let those instincts and emotions drive your behavior.
There are good reasons for this position. There are often times that a divorce may seem imminent but the partners find a way to rethink their position and reconcile their differences. If you are the one who has gotten the bad news that your spouse wants a divorce, I urge you to slow down and think things through.
Sometimes a spouse begins to fantasize what life would be like without the many problems that marriage and families can bring. The stresses of everyday life which might include arguments and misunderstandings between you may weigh too heavily and, without help, can result in hasty decisions.
I have put together what I believe is the best advice for a spouse who does not want to get a divorce despite the other spouse claiming they do want the divorce.
Bear in mind, as was stated before, the responses that will likely serve you best will probably be contrary to what you feel like doing.
Don’t Panic! The tendency, when the impact of your spouse’s stated intention to divorce hits you, is to feel that your world is about to explode and your life (and the life of your family) will be coming to an end shortly. You need to pull yourself together after the shock and begin to think things through as you form your strategy. Feeling anxious about what will happen next is understandable, but letting yourself catastrophize and blow things out of proportion will do you no good.
Don’t Overreact! I’m not suggesting that you should not have real feelings of upset about the possibility of a divorce. Quite the contrary, you are entitled to feel any way you need to feel. I am speaking specifically about the way you choose to behave. For example: becoming violent, calling everyone right away to vent, insisting that your spouse must leave the house immediately and other extreme behaviors can be counterproductive, especially if there is a possibility of reconciliation.
Try to Understand. It may sound a little far-fetched for you to try to understand where your spouse is coming from, especially if you’re not seeing things the same way. However, if the two of you have not really had meaningful, authentic conversations about what is actually happening in your relationship, you need to take the time to hear the other out.
Take Responsibility. I am not suggesting that you take the full weight of the blame for the decline of your relationship, but at least be open to recognizing what role you may have played. If you can be open minded in the face of this crisis you may realize that there may be some shared responsibility for the problems in your relationship.
Take a Step Back. Although you may want your partner to rethink the decision to get a divorce, becoming wildly desperate in the pursuit of changing her mind is not a good idea. You may be sad or distraught or devastated but repeatedly begging or imploring your spouse to stay in the marriage can have the opposite effect. Taking a step back is about giving you some time and space to get focused on creating a stronger and better you.
Create Some You Time. Of course you are probably feeling depressed, helpless and in pain thinking that your marriage is coming apart along with your family life. You can allow yourself to feel this way but not indefinitely. What you need to do is pull yourself together and do things that will help you to feel better. Focusing on yourself will not only help you to feel better but will also help you gain confidence. The more confident you are the more attractive you become to others, including your spouse.
Get Professional Help. Your spouse may not agree with you or think it is too late for the marriage. You may have already “tried” some counseling in the past but obviously it was not effective. There is an option for another type of counseling. This type of counseling is called Discernment Counseling and presents a way for couples to consider their options before making a final decision about divorce. It is best suited for couples where one partner wants to preserve and repair the relationship and the other is leaning towards ending it. (http://discernmentcounseling.com/)
The worst case scenario will be that your spouse continues to move towards divorce.
At that point it will be in your best interest if you’ve thought it through and are willing to talk about what the consequences will ultimately be for the two of you and your family.
Sometimes the sense of what a divorce would actually mean sinks in and the spouse has a reality check . It may not seem likely, but even at that late date the possibility exists that your spouse changes their mind and decides to work things out.
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About the Author
Dr. Stan Hyman is a licensed psychotherapist and life coach in private practice in Miami, Florida. He works with couples struggling with powerful issues such as infidelity, loss of trust and intimacy. He often works with couples on the brink of divorce, helping them to gain clarity on what path they will ultimately choose.