If you are trying to decide whether or not to get a divorce, your decision should be based on the fact that there is no hope left for your marriage. If you have any reason to believe your marriage can be saved, or more accurately, should be saved, it would be far better to seek the help of a marriage counselor rather than the divorce court. Mel Krantzler, Ph.D., divorce counselor and best-selling author of "Creative Divorce", quotes a client who told him, "I only wish I had taken my wife's advice and gone to a marriage counselor with her when she suggested it. We may have remained together, knowing what I know now, rather than break up. Now I'll never know if that was possible." The following are some signs that it is worth your time, energy and commitment to try to save your troubled marriage.
1. You and your spouse still believe there is some love left in your relationship
Often a spouse will claim that they want a divorce when in reality they just want to alert their partner that their marriage needs serious work. There may still be strong feelings of love for the other person, but the problems and frustrations of an unhealthy marriage have just become too difficult to bear.
2. You both realize you are equally responsible for the unhappiness you are experiencing
If you can both recognize your part in the breakdown of your marriage, you are well on your way to resolving your difficulties. Once you both own up to your responsibility, the next step is to figure out ways to overcome the behavior that has caused the problems and commit to working together. This is a good sign that your marriage can be saved.
3. You both recognize you are harming each other out of thoughtlessness, not vindictiveness. Often married couples grow apart because they become less and less aware of each other’s needs or feelings. The various pursuits of life, such as careers, kids, hobbies and other obligations or distractions can cause partners to lose track of the importance of their relationship with one another. In this case, a readjustment of priorities and a rededication to focus on each other will help get your marriage back on track.
4. Both of you are willing to get outside help
You understand that a good marriage counselor will be able to view your situation objectively. Often one spouse or the other will be reluctant to seek outside help because they don’t like the idea of airing personal problems to a stranger. However, sometimes this is the only solution, especially in situations where communication has become increasingly difficult. If both partners are willing to seek help, it is a good sign that your marriage is important enough to both of you that you will do whatever is necessary to repair it.
You are willing to let go of self-righteous feelings and would rather forgive each other than "get even." This is vital to the survival of your marriage. If you can let go of past hurts and disappointments, you will be better equipped to move forward and create a new marriage within your current marriage. This new marriage will be based on love and forgiveness rather than alienation and blame.
A. Lynn Scoresby, founder and president of My Family Track , First Answers , and Achievement Synchrony , and has been a marriage and family psychologist for more than 35 years. He has published more than 20 books and training programs.