Divorce is not a decision that should be taken lightly or decided overnight. Whether it was a short or long marriage, you should take the time to ask yourself a number of questions before you sign those divorce papers.
We asked relationship expert Paula Quinsee to share some of the crucial questions women need to ask themselves before making a divorce official. Here is what she said:
1. How long have you been together?
‘The reason for this is that every couple goes through a typical relationship cycle usually coming to a crossroads around the seven to nine-year mark (hence the cliché “The seven-year itch”). This is not to say that this cycle does not happen earlier in some relationships, but for the majority, it’s over a longer period.
We’ve passed the romantic phase of when we first met our partner and now are probably wondering what happened to the person we fell in love with? This is because as individuals, we grow and evolve with life experiences and the life stage we find ourselves in at that moment. In most cases, children have come along, too, which adds another dynamic to the relationship.
With time, we get stuck in our day-to-day routine and our life becomes well just that – routine. Leaving us feeling unfulfilled, empty, disconnected from our partners and alone. And that’s when the trouble starts.’
2. Why are you considering getting divorced?
‘What is it exactly that is leaving you feeling this way, have you got into a rut? Are you disconnected and living separate lives? Do you still care about the person and can you see them in your future? Every relationship goes through bad patches. That does not necessarily mean your relationship is over, not working or that you’re not meant to be together. It’s just feedback that something is not working and what do you want to do about it if anything? If the relationship is abusive then personal safety and that of your children comes first and you need to make that your priority.’
3. What do you really love about this person?
‘You should be able to list at least five things about them ranging from their quirky traits, personality, physical appearance, things they do and how they make you feel. If you can only list a few things (e.g. I enjoy being with this person) then you may want to question whether it really is love or more companionship, or the fear of being alone or finances that is driving your decision.’
Read more: How to successfully co-parent with your ex
4. If you had the opportunity to turn things around, would you want to and how badly do you want to fix this relationship?
‘Rate this question on a scale of 0-low/10-high. Anything below a six is going to take a lot more effort to fix the relationship but it’s not impossible. Are you prepared to do the work? If not then maybe it’s time to move on. If yes, then you need to look at what’s working and what’s not working in your relationship and start actioning those items – do more of what’s working and change what’s not working.’
5.What has your role/contribution been in getting things to where they are now?
‘As much as we like to blame our partner for what’s wrong in our relationship, we need to take ownership of our role and contribution. See that as areas of development going forward so that the same thing does not happen in your next relationship.’
In the event that your partner is the one who is pushing for a divorce and you feel blindsided by their request then ask yourself:
- What got us to this place and how did I not see the signs or miss what was going on?
- Review your financial situation and how you will be able to cope on a single income going forward. This may involve a lifestyle change.
- Should children be involved, you will need to negotiate and agree on who is going to pay for what in relation to each other’s earning capacity.
- What do you need to gain closure and to be able to move forward and start a new life?
- Do you need answers to any unanswered questions you still have?
- What if you never get these answers? Can you make peace with that and move on?
- Do you need forgiveness – from yourself or from your partner?
- What needs to happen for you to move on e.g. having no contact with your ex at all?
- What do you need to do to pick up the pieces and move forward so you don’t dwell on old times and keep yourself stuck in the past?
‘Divorce is not a death sentence even though it can feel like one. It can teach us valuable lessons about ourselves, relationships and marriage if we are prepared to see both the positives and negatives sides of the situation,’ assures Paula.