Things to Do When You’re Thinking about Ending Your Marriage

BY: - 29 Apr '13 | Marriage

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If you’ve found yourself straddling the fence and it feels like your only two options are to stay in an unsatisfying relationship or get divorced, it’s a tough place to be. It’s also a critical time where your immediate actions can make a big difference to the outcome of your marriage.  Hopefully, the third option is to improve your marriage and enjoy your relationship once again.

Examine What Needs to Change

You can’t fix the problem until you’ve really taken the time to identify what the problem is. Simply deciding, “I’m just not happy,” doesn’t offer much of an opportunity to fix the problem. However, if you can identify concrete reasons why you aren’t happy, it’ll be a much better start.

Make a list of what would need to change for you to feel more satisfied in your relationship. Do you need more affection? Do you want more independence? Do you want to feel more emotionally connected to your spouse? Try to make the list as specific as possible.

Communicate Your Needs

Talk to your spouse when you are both calm and have plenty of time to talk. Bringing up your dissatisfaction in the midst of a heated dispute will only make things worse. Instead, talk to your partner about scheduling a time for the two of you to talk.

Have an open and honest conversation with your spouse, but do so in non-blaming manner. Use lots of “I” statements. Instead of saying, “You never spend time with me,” try, “I’d love for us to find more time to spend together.”

Focus on listening more than you talk. Showing your spouse that you are open to ideas and suggestions can go a long way to making the conversation a successful one. Avoid making threats or ultimatums that send the message, “Do this or else.” Otherwise, you’re likely to get your partner on the defensive and if you’re not prepared to follow through, you’re empty threats will have only damaged the marriage more.

Focus on Changes You can Make

You can’t force your partner to change. You can however, focus on changes that are within your control. Your energy is much better spent focusing on changing your behavior. If you make some changes, the result might be that your partner chooses to change.

Set daily goals for yourself. Your goal might be as simple as, “I’m going to smile, hug my spouse before I leave to work, and concentrate on not being irritable toward him today.” Or maybe you’re going to try to behave more affectionately toward your spouse. If you have a goal each day, it can help you to focus on what is within your control in the marriage.

Reduce Distractions and Outside Influences

If you’re straddling the fence about whether or stay in the marriage or leave, the last thing you need is outside influences distracting you. Well-meaning friends and family sometimes offer lots of advice and words of wisdom. However, this can distract you from your goals if you’re not careful.

A friend who says, “If he hasn’t changed by now he’s never going to change,” could influence your attitude toward your marriage. Or a mother who frequently says, “You can always stay here,” might also give you that extra push to go out the door before you’re really ready.

Sometimes another potential love interest can also offer a distraction. If you’re having an affair, it’s going to cloud your judgment about your marriage. It’s impossible to focus on your marriage if you’re involved with someone else.

But it doesn’t even necessarily have to be a sexual affair for it to be a distraction. Emotional affairs can also cloud your judgment. If you’ve been talking a lot to a co-worker or confiding in a special friend about things that you don’t talk to your spouse about, it can mean that your energy is being displaced.

If you have people, or even work or hobbies, that are distracting you from focusing on your marriage, it’s important to reduce or eliminate those distractions. If you want your marriage to improve, it needs to be a priority in your life.  You’ll need to be able to put your energy and attention into the marriage without distractions from outside influences.

Don’t Stay to Justify Leaving

Sometimes people stay in the marriage after they’ve come to the conclusion they will leave, just to justify their decision. They might provoke their partner on purpose at times or start fights so they can feel better about the fact that the marriage isn’t working out and it’s okay to leave.

If you’re 99 percent certain you are going to leave, it’s likely that you’ll look at your partner’s actions in a different light. You’ll likely interpret your spouse’s words and behaviors as proof that the marriage is going to end. It’s also likely to change your behavior. You might be less kind, less affectionate and more irritable, which can evoke more unpleasant behavior from your spouse, which will further justify your efforts to want to leave.

Put energy into improving the relationship instead of looking for reasons to end it. Try looking for reasons why you should stay or proof that if you work on things, you can make it better. If you put your energy into fixing things rather than looking for reasons why you should leave, you can make a difference.

Seek Professional Help

Marriage counseling can help you find ways to revitalize and improve your relationship. You can meet with a marriage counselor by yourself, if you aren’t sure what to do or if counseling is right for you. Ask questions and learn more about what a counselor can offer you and your marriage.

BMWK – If you are on the fence and considering leaving, please make sure you have considered all of the options above.  Is there anything else we should add to this list?

Find out more about  Amy Morin and her article  What to Do When You’re Thinking about Ending the Marriage on The Marriage Counseling Blog (

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13 WordPress comments on “Things to Do When You’re Thinking about Ending Your Marriage

  1. Stazi Simmons

    The list makes perfect sense and I’ve done just about everything on that list. However, when I got tired of putting in effort towards my marriage and saw my husband not treating me in the same manner, I told him it was time for us to go our separate ways during a marriage therapy session. It takes two to make a marriage work. Both partners have to do equal parts to make their marriages survive especially without outside influences who aren’t married and in-laws. Unfortunately, I filed divorce due to the fact my marriage was just too toxic and monster-in-laws didn’t help matters at all. I’m sad for my little girls who won’t have the opportunity to grow up with both parents in the home but at the same time it’s not healthy for children to reside in a unhealthy environment with both parents consistently arguing.

    At this point, I don’t have any desires to date or ever get married again.

    1. Ronnie Tyler

      Stazi it does take two to make it work. And I think this post says..exhaust all of your options before you make that decision to leave. And it sounds like that is what you did.

      But “one bad apple can’t spoil the bunch” ..and I say that because you might not be ready to get married again right now..but please don’t limit your self. You never know what life has in store for you…and if you meet that person that treats the way you deserve to be treated…it is the best think in the world

    2. Nikki E.

      Reading all the womens’ post on here I have to admit that I being married for 15 months and my unsaved husband has talked about divorce. Mainly as a threat to not getting his need met immediately. But from where I stand it takes one person to turn a marriage around. God can and will soften a husband’s heart if you trust. Marriage is a covenant not a contract you made between you both. That day on the alter between you two was the Lord. He will fight on your behalf to save your marriage. Marriage restoration is a reality research it. Not seeing changes and results is NOT a reason to walk away from a marriage. This battle is spiritual warfare. I will fight for my marriaage and my husband’s soul till the day I die.

    3. WhoCares

      You say you feel bad for you little girls because they won’t have both parents in the home, but yet you keep your husband (their Dad) from seeing them. What is worse him not being in the home or not having a relationship with his kids? Apparently you have decided to not allow them to have a relationship with their father. I hope that your going to be woman enough to explain to them that you are the cause for his absence in their lives. He took care of you, married you and provided for the four other children that aren’t his. Did you ever think that maybe the problem is YOU. You have six kids by different men, all you seem to do is produce babies and now you want to use his two as leverage for your own selfish little game. You are pathetic.

      1. Glory be to God

        Women who use thier kids to gain thier own decietful ways dont realize that she causes emotional distress on her children. God did not give amy man or woman his fruit to destroy them mentally. From reading this post on Things to think about before ending your marriage. I didnt read amything witnin some of the post amd response on how did that woman make change within herself I only read its the man fault. Woman I know that it takes two to make a marriage work so what did you do or what didnt you do to show your husband change. You cant ask for change if your not willing to change your behavior. Woman dont ever use your kids to get back at a man that comes back to hurt you. The same thing you teach your kids will be used against you one day.

  2. Stephanie B.

    I feel you Stazi…. I am currently married of 7 mo. (yep 7 months) and my husband wants a divorce! I’m willing, trying and ready to work it out but his mind is so closed that he is not willing. I’m sad about the whole ordeal, and mad at the fact that he is not willing to fight for our marraige. It does take two. I do not believe he has positive feedback in his ear if any at all and rather throw our years down the drain. I don’t want to be done but only God can help our situation now and thats what I will allow to intervine. Sorry for all the married couples going through issues.

  3. Jules

    Stephanie B. your post hit home because I have also only been married for 7 mos. right now my husband and I are separated. He says he wants to work it out but I am looking for evidence of change. All I hear is what I did to him to get the marriage to this point but not what he did or even what he can do to make it better. He has been listening to his family and they are telling him to leave me. As if any of this is there business! I would love my husband to come back home but I feel like if I don’t see a glimpse of change or accountability I am wasting my time. Reading you post made me see how I am making my husband feel by not wanting him to come back right now. I guess he feels hurt and rejected but so do I and my biggest fear is that he comes back nothing changes and things just get worst. I will be praying for you Stephanie and all the troubled marriages.

  4. CD

    I too am almost on the brink of calling it quits after a mere 6 months of marriage. We’ve been together almost 12 yrs but the same unresolved dating issues have resurfaced with a new one added after marriage. I made an appt to see a family therapist by myself because he doesn’t want to go. I pray this will help us.

  5. Nikki E.

    There are days I know my husband’s bad attitude towards me is merely a distraction from the devil to discourage me. When this happens I walk upstairs pray against the attack. Then a come downstairs and show my husband love unconditionally. Do this and you will see changes. The devil must take his hands off your marriage! Light dispels all darkness. Do not do not focus on the circumstances. Walk by faith not by sight and the Lord will show you what he can do.

  6. Sara

    I am praying for all the married couples who are struggling; my husband has been taken over by the devil in the form of another female who he is currently having an affair with, who he believes he loves. After 12 years together and 6 1/2 married he has finally been taken from me although I have vowed to never give up on our marriage.

  7. Nikki E.

    The stand for your marriage begins now. Many spouses return from adulterous relationships when the other person pressures them to marriage or their conscience takes hold of them. But many have nothing to come back to as the other spouse has grown tired of waiting, their heart has hardened as pride set in from the injustices done. But the prodigal son had a compassionate father to return to. In our culture we feel we have to convict our spouses that they have wronged us but put to prayer He who made their hearts will convict them and cleanse them of unrighteousness. Sara I would be leary of thos toting “wordly” advice.

  8. Kim

    I think the article is great. I feel as though I have been over these very points every 6 months for the last 9 years. The only thing I would have added is “Executing the Plan to Leave” because as for me, it may be time to exit.

    From multiple infidelities, to being verbally disrespected in front of friends and our children, to the most recent comment he made to his closest friend…I’ll bust her in her _____ mouth!!! It’s just progressively gotten worse and I have stayed out of my own embarrassment that I didn’t leave sooner. As an educated woman, a woman with her own career before he came along, I was just fine on my own. Marriage wasn’t on my radar and I was ok being single in the literal sense of the word!

    So now, I feel I’m here as a result of my own embarrassment that I didn’t shut this madness down when I was pregnant with my son. My own embarrassment that while trying to help him build a career, mine got side-tracked. My own embarrassment that he’s not really the person he claims to be and that few know that. My own embarrassment that after this last incident, we don’t have a dime!

    I am in my mid 40’s. I have no desire to spend the next 10 years like the last. He refuses to go to counseling. I refuse to keep living his lie. So, I am in the early stages of deciding the “how.” The time will never be “right,” especially for my sons (and my step son who is in his early 20’s). But I have a life to save and it is my own!

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Couples Spotlight: Mike and Henrietta Jones

BY: - 30 Apr '13 | Couple's Spotlight

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I love hearing other peoples’ love stories and their thoughts and tips on what makes their marriages work. This week’s spotlight couple has been together since their sophomore year of high school. Henrietta is a graduate of Morris College in Sumter, SC with a Political Science Degree, and works as an administrator assistant. Her husband, Mike is a graduate of Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, NC with a degree in Criminal Justice and is employed by the US Department of Justice. They currently reside in Bluffton, SC and have two sons: Michael who is 16 and Chancelor who is 8 years old.   This power couple has been together for 26 years and married for 16 years.
What was the glue that held you two together especially during those first years in and out of high school?
Mike: The glue that held us together at least on my part was my commitment to her, and me knowing at a fairly young age that she was the person that I wanted as my wife.  I knew that she was the one for me from day one, as corny as that sounds, but I just knew.
Henrietta: It was love at first sight.  It was something about the  swag that he had as a young boy that drew me to him.  I could tell that he wanted to be somebody and he was going places, and I wanted to be part of that.  We continue to share a bond that is unbreakable.  I honestly believe that it is a love that God has placed between the two of us, and that no man or woman can come between.
How have you been able to maintain your level of friendship over the years?
Mike: This is the person that I enjoy spending time with more than any other person.  I respect her feelings and I never want to do anything to disappoint her. She is my best friend.
Henrietta: We maintain our friendship by being supportive of each other through both the good and bad times.  I laugh at his jokes even when there are not funny, and I give him his space when he needs it, and likewise with him.
What is the biggest life lesson you have learned in your 16 years of marriage?
Mike: How to compromise.  You have to be flexible and you have to be open to things that might be a little uncomfortable for you at times, to get to where you want to be in your marriage.  We are both strong-minded people so there are times when we have to compromise and just agree to disagree on things.  I learned not to sweat the small things at the end of day because we both have what is best for our family in mind.
Henrietta: You have to maintain an open line of communication.  Honesty is the approach that we take with each other.  I feel that you should be supportive of your spouse in whatever they are attempting to accomplish, even if you don’t necessarily agree with it. You must be willing to give of yourself at all times, and you have to make sacrifices.
Click the pages below for more of Mike and Henrietta’s story…….
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About the author

Christine St. Vil wrote 153 articles on this blog.

Christine St.Vil is co-author of the Whose Shoes Are Your Wearing: 12 Steps to Uncovering the Woman You Really Want to Be. A happy wife to an amazing hubby of 8 years, and homeschooling mother of three, she teaches moms how to FLY (First Love Yourself). She uses her corporate background to work with women who are ready to start a new business, accelerate their career growth & design a life they love. She's on a mission to help moms to battle the mom guilt epidemic, so they can begin to put themselves first on their never-ending list of priorities.


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