It doesn’t matter if you’ve been married four years or four decades. You might still be struggling with the decision to end your marriage. The indecisiveness can be overwhelming, so much so that it could leave you in a state of paralysis. But choosing to do nothing is not an option because no one wants to look back on lost years and regrets. Often, you need to examine what’s happening in your relationship and ask yourself some hard questions. The answers to those questions could help dictate what happens next. Here are a few to consider.
Does your partner listen and respond to your concerns?
Most experts agree that arguments aren’t the problem in relationships. It’s how you and your partner respond to those arguments that really matters. When there’s a problem and you’ve tried your best to hash it out, it’s important that both partners work hard to change behaviors and compromise. If no action occurs, that shows a lack of respect. That lack of respect could be a sign that your partner doesn’t value what’s important to you and to the relationship.
Do you have shared goals and values?
When it comes to goals and values, it’s always helpful if you took the time and effort to make sure you and your spouse were aligned before you tied the knot. This is often revealed in something as basic as household duties. Will you share these responsibilities, or do you believe in more traditional roles? It’s even more apparent when you’re raising children together. For instance, do you agree on how to discipline your children? Even with the best-laid plans, it’s not unusual for people to change over time. When this occurs, you and your spouse may need to work through the changes and look for ways to compromise.
Is your partner there for you in good times and bad?
It can be fairly easy to get along when times are good. Your finances are in order, the kids are doing well in school, and everyone is healthy. On the other hand, tough times can place unexpected strain on a marriage. When a child is ill, a parent is aging, or someone loses a job, that’s when you really need and expect support from your partner. If he or she does not rise to the occasion and is not willing to help, it may be a sign that the marriage is not valued.
Are you happy when spending time with your partner?
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to determine if things are going well is to ask yourself how you feel when you and your spouse are together. Are you excited to see each other at the end of the day? Is your spouse the first person you go to with news that is either exciting or devastating? And do you generally like to spend time together? If you’re not comfortable together, or you feel uneasy when your spouse is around, that’s probably not a good sign. As life partners, you want to enjoy your time together.
Do you put other people and other things ahead of your marriage?
There may be periods in your life when other things demand your attention. During those times, your spouse may feel like he or she is being temporarily ignored. But if you are caring for a sick child, for instance, the circumstances may dictate that you focus on your child’s care. On the other hand, when other things demand your attention over a long period of time, the two of you may find yourself drifting apart. That can lead to a weakened relationship and before long you barely know each other.
These questions are only guidelines. If you’re unsure about where your marriage is headed, it may be time to talk with a professional.
Dr. David Lowenstein is a Columbus, Ohio-based psychologist with more than 35 years of experience. He conducts individual, family, and group therapy sessions in his German Village office and also via telehealth. Dr. Lowenstein is also available for expert forensic testimony, and for educational workshops and presentations. He is frequently called upon as an expert source for print, radio, and broadcast media. Contact Dr. Lowenstein at Lowenstein & Associates, 691 South Fifth Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43206, or call 614.443.6155 or 614.444.0432.