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  • Writer's pictureYvette E. McDonald, LCSW-QS

Contemplating Divorce: Navigating Your Heart and Mind


Making the decision to divorce is one of the most challenging and emotional crossroads you may ever face. It's a step that can feel like standing at the edge of a precipice, looking into the unknown. You may be feeling a profound mix of emotions—fear, sadness, anger, confusion—and it's natural to worry about regret and whether you've truly explored every avenue to save your marriage. Here, we'll walk through some thoughts and questions to help you make sense of your heart and mind during this difficult time.



I want to start off by telling you, "Your Feelings Are Real and Important"!

First, it's crucial to validate your feelings. Your emotions are real, and they matter. The struggle you're experiencing is not only significant but also deeply personal. Feeling torn is part of the process, and it's okay to acknowledge that this is hard. You are not alone in this; many have walked this path before and have found clarity, whatever their ultimate decision.


Questions to Reflect On


To help you navigate this challenging time, consider the following questions. They are designed to help you reflect deeply on your relationship and your own needs and desires:


1. What Led Me Here?

- Reflect on the moments and patterns that have brought you to consider divorce. Are they isolated incidents, or part of a recurring cycle?


2. Have I Communicated My Needs?

- Think about whether you've fully expressed your feelings and needs to your partner. Have you given them the chance to understand and address your concerns?


3. Am I Being True to Myself?

- Consider whether staying in the marriage aligns with your true self and values. Are you able to be authentically you in this relationship?


4. What Are My Fears About Divorce?

- Identify your fears about divorce. Are they rooted in practical concerns, like finances and co-parenting, or more emotional ones, such as fear of loneliness or societal judgment?


5. What Efforts Have We Made?

- Take stock of the efforts both you and your partner have made to salvage the relationship. Have you tried counseling, improved communication, or other means to reconnect?


6. What Would My Life Look Like Post-Divorce?

- Imagine your life after divorce. Visualize the day-to-day reality. Does this future feel liberating, or does it fill you with dread?


7. How Do I Feel About My Partner?

- Assess your current feelings towards your partner. Do you still love them? Is there resentment that overshadows everything? Can you imagine rebuilding a positive connection?


8. Have I Sought Professional Guidance?

- Consider whether you've engaged with a therapist or counselor who can offer an objective perspective and help navigate your feelings.


 

Trying Everything: Ensuring No Stone Is Left Unturned


Before making a final decision, it's important to feel that you've tried everything within your power. Here are some steps you might consider, both as a couple and individually:


As a Couple


  • Couples Therapy: Engaging with a professional can open up new lines of communication and provide tools to resolve conflicts.

  • Discernment Counseling: This specialized form of counseling is designed for couples where one partner is leaning towards divorce and the other wants to save the marriage. It helps both partners gain clarity and confidence in their decision-making.

  • Rekindling Connection: Spend intentional time together without the distractions of daily life. Revisit places and activities that once brought you joy.

  • Improving Communication: Learn and practice effective communication techniques. Honest and respectful dialogue is crucial.

  • Setting Boundaries: Ensure both partners understand and respect each other's boundaries. This can prevent feelings of being overwhelmed or underappreciated.

  • Structured Separation: This is a planned period of time apart with clear agreements on how to interact and address issues. It can provide space for reflection and growth without the immediate pressure of finalizing a divorce.


Individually


  • Individual Therapy: Sometimes, personal issues and past traumas need addressing before you can fully engage in repairing a relationship. Therapy can help you understand your feelings and behaviors and provide strategies to cope and communicate better.

  • Self-Reflection: Spend time journaling or meditating on your feelings and experiences. Ask yourself what you truly want and need in a relationship, and whether those needs can be met within your current marriage.

  • Personal Growth: Engage in activities that promote your personal growth and well-being. This could include pursuing hobbies, continuing education, or focusing on physical health. A stronger sense of self can bring clarity and resilience.

  • Reading and Research: There are many books and resources available on relationships and personal development. Educating yourself can provide new perspectives and strategies for dealing with marital issues.

  • Mindfulness and Stress Management: Practices such as mindfulness, yoga, or other stress management techniques can help you stay calm and centered, making it easier to deal with marital stress and make clear decisions.

  • Building Support Networks: Lean on trusted friends and family, or join support groups where you can share your experiences and gain insights from others who have faced similar challenges.


By exploring these individual avenues, you ensure that you are bringing your best self to any efforts to save your marriage, and you'll have the confidence that you've genuinely tried everything within your power before making a decision about divorce.



It Takes Two: The Reality of Relationships


While it's essential to put in your best effort, remember that it takes two people to make a relationship work. Both partners need to be committed to resolving issues and improving the relationship. If one partner is unwilling or unable to meet halfway, it can be incredibly challenging to make meaningful progress.

If you find yourself constantly being the only one making efforts, it's important to recognize that a healthy relationship requires mutual effort, respect, and willingness to grow. You can only control your actions and responses; your partner must be equally invested in the process for real change to occur.

By exploring these individual avenues, you ensure that you are bringing your best self to any efforts to save your marriage. You can move forward with the confidence that you've genuinely tried everything within your power before making a decision about divorce, knowing that you can't do it alone.


Trusting Your Decision


Ultimately, the decision to divorce or stay together is deeply personal. Trust that you have the inner wisdom to make the right choice for yourself and your family. Remember, choosing to end a marriage doesn't mean you failed. It means you're brave enough to pursue a life where both partners can potentially find happiness, whether together or apart.


Moving Forward


Regardless of the path you choose, be kind to yourself. Allow yourself the grace to feel and process. Lean on friends, family, or support groups who understand your journey.


Your heart and head will guide you, and whatever you decide, know that you are doing your best to navigate this complex and emotional terrain. Trust in your strength, and take each step with the knowledge that you are deserving of peace and happiness.


 

As an individual with Autism and ADHD, and a counselor and writer, I navigate the intricacies of neurodiversity and divorce firsthand. In my counseling practice, I specialize in working with individuals on the brink of divorce, providing tailored support and guidance during these critical times. I foster a safe, inclusive environment that celebrates neurodiversity and addresses the unique challenges faced by those going through separation. Through my writing, I aim to enhance understanding and appreciation for the complexity of human cognition, including the emotional and psychological impacts of divorce.

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