What Do You Do When Divorce Has Become an Option? 10 Steps To Save Your Marriage
by Benjamin and Alisha Walker
One of our mantras is divorce is not an option. We wrote a blog post called 12 ways to have a loving marriage, at the top of the list is divorce is not an option, but what if it really is? What if the relationship you are in has gotten so bad, that you just can’t take it? How do you handle that? Where does that conversation begin and with whom? So many people come to us in throws of emotion, because let’s admit it, deciding to get a divorce is emotional. You are deciding to break apart from that one person that you said you would love and cherish for better or for worse in sickness and in health”.... so what happened?
The thought of divorce comes when you have had enough of whatever the issue or the issues are. You are frustrated, angry, overwhelmed and you may even feel that there is no turning back. Your thought may be, especially around this time of year, I need to make some changes in my life because I want the new year to be better and either we are going to change or I’m going to change without you.
You are not alone, can I be a little transparent. There have been times in our marriage, that I have contemplated divorce. I even tell a story of the first year of our marriage when I felt so overwhelmed with the new life that we had that I felt like Harriet Tubman on the underground railroad, a slave who wanted freedom. I really and truly just wanted to run away, get away from the situation and most importantly my spouse. I felt like he was the one that was the cause of my unhappiness and that if I left him I could go on with my life and be happier. The not so lovely side of marriage is what people don’t talk about or if they do it’s when they are at their breaking point and are about to leave anyway.
When you are planning a wedding, everyone talks about the dress, the colors, how many people you are inviting”...., but people rarely talk about the trying times of marriage and what it takes to get through them, so let’s talk about them.
Marriage is hard work. It takes commitment, persistence, a willing spirit, fidelity, forgiveness, grace, compassion, love, trust, and God. A lack of any of these can and will cause a crack in the foundation of your marriage. As a result of a lack of any of these you can find yourself with divorce being an option. Ok so let me ask you, what are some of the reasons you want to leave? (Take out a sheet of paper and write these down. If this is your first encounter with our writing, we do give homework, but it takes work to achieve any goal including marriage) What are the reasons that you would stay? What are the top 5 issues that are currently causing stress in your marriage?(put them in rank order from 1 ““ 5) If you were able to change any of the stressors which one would you choose that could have the most impact on the rest of them. People often have many stressors going on at once in their lives, unfortunately their relationships usually get the brunt of the issues going on. So if you are having a hard time at work when you come home, who usually gets it, your spouse. If the children have irritated you, who normally has to hear about it, your spouse. When your spouse gets on your nerves, who has to hear about it, your spouse.
The decision to divorce is not an easy one and definitely one you should not take lightly. The feelings that you’re experiencing are all over the place and you’re really not sure or if you’ve thought about it long enough, you may be numb to what is going on because you have virtually already given up. If there is a glimpse of hope for your marriage and you have even a mustard seed of faith, read on.
Steps to save your marriage:
- Prioritize marriage ““ Make your marriage a priority. Remove those things that have gotten in the way of you prioritizing your marriage. Marriage needs time and commitment to heal. If that means you sitting out a semester of school, giving up that part time job or at least cutting back on the hours, cutting back on the kids activities. Cutting back on those things that were really a way for you to avoid your spouse and the issues you face.
- Change your position ““ If you haven’t already, pray. If you have, continue. Get on your knees daily with the intent of hearing what God has to say about your marriage. Ask Him for His help in your marriage. Don’t pray for God to change your spouse.
- Regroup ““ The two of you have to come up with a game plan as to what you want and need to do for your marriage. You both have to be committed .
- Refocus ““ Focus your attention on what you can change to make the relationship better and stop focusing on what you think your partner has done wrong. Take the negative lens off and begin to see them in a positive way.
- Get help ““ Get help from a professional, not your momma, your boys, your girls, fraternity or sorority. You need help from someone who is going to help guide you out of the situation. This person or people should be able to help you set goals as well as hold you accountable for the changes you have committed to make. They should be someone who is able to empathize but also able to confront when they see that you are only giving 10% instead of 100%.
- Learn to problem solve ““ All marriages have conflict and problems. Learning how to solve your problems in a way that doesn’t cause any more conflict is key. You and your spouse have to learn to deal with your issues without it turning into a full blown argument even with the big things that have typically caused issues. The truth of the matter is that problem solving is the crux of issues for most couples. The skill to discuss financial issues as well as sexual concerns is the same, the topic is just different. You have to learn to problem solve whether you stay in this relationship or move on. Truthfully if you decide to divorce, problem-solving will still be an issue, just the problems have changed. Instead of dealing with the problems, you never help around the house, how can I get him to help; the problem is now when and who will the kids spend Christmas with next year.
- Recommit ““ recommit to your marriage. If you are thinking of divorce at some point you lost the commitment you once had. Get rid of all people, places and things that get in the way of your commitment.
- Forgive ““ Yes we said the F word. This is a HUGE one in marriage. Forgiveness is necessary for marriage. Your spouse will continue to do things to hurt you even when they don’t mean to. In order to move past hurts you have to forgive even if they haven’t apologized. I’m not saying they shouldn’t apologize, but if you wait on the apology, you may get stuck focusing on what they did or didn’t do and that can cause you to focus on the negative rather than focusing on any of the good in your marriage. (We will be doing a post on forgiveness in the coming weeks)
- Mustard seed faith – Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “˜Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20 If you have even the faith of a mustard seed, even the mountain of a divorce can be moved.
- Be willing ““ You have to be willing to make changes, accept changes from your spouse, forgive, give grace, and trust and allow God to move.
Benjamin and Alisha Walker, The Marriage Coaches, are passionate about helping couples repair, restore and revitalize their relationships, through counseling, coaching, and speaking. Alisha is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Georgia and Benjamin is a minister and they help couples daily in their counseling practice in the Metro Atlanta area. The Walkers have been married for over 12 years with 5 children and live by the motto, I love being married. www.themarriagecoaches.net
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