New Year, New Decade, New Marital Resolutions

When you're unhappily married, you have three basic options

Posted Jan 17, 2010

If you are in an unfulfilling, unhappy or abusive marriage, you will want to read this article to gain an understanding of the options open to you at this point. While no option is great, one will likely be better for you than the other choices.

You can stay married, you can divorce, or you can separate.

If you choose to stay married, you can simply ignore the problems and hope they go away, or you can take an action to resolve the issues, for example by seeking counseling.

Although the option to ignore marital troubles may sound silly, the simple act of time passing actually can serve to heal the pains or at least make them less prevalent.

More often than not, however, the problems re-emerge later on because they haven't been dealt with and resolved. Meeting issues head on and working to get on the other side of them has a much better prognosis for resolution.

Staying married and working through conflicts, betrayals and problems will require a high level of maturity. This can be a painful, but gratifying process. Often couples end up feeling closer when they reach the other side of the issue however, not everyone makes it through this process.

The second obvious choice is to divorce. For the past thirty to forty years, divorce numbers have hovered at 50% (give or take) so clearly, many people see divorce as a viable option when the relationship turns south.

Although people can remarry their ex, divorce is almost always a conclusive ending to the relationship. If there are no kids, there's not usually continued contact and if there are children, a new relationship as co-parents is established.

Separation is the third choice. When most of us think of a marital separation, we assume that the couple is divorcing and that their living apart is a step in that process.

An often under-utilized tool couples can take advantage of is a therapeutic separation: much like a "time out" if you will. The thinking behind this separation is to gain perspective on the relationship and to evaluate your needs and wants away from your partner.


Each option has pros and cons.

Staying can be easier on the wallet but perhaps more emotionally draining than divorce.
Divorce can be challenging while you're in the midst of it, but quite liberating if you've been in a negative situation.
Separating can help you gain perspective but it doesn't always. Knowing that a separation is temporary is usually not as emotionally charged as when you know it's a step in the divorce process or when you're not sure what the outcome will be so you may not get the full benefit of the "time out."

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