A marriage is a serious commitment, and divorce can often come loaded with apprehension and shame. However, there are times when getting a divorce is the right choice — no matter how difficult that choice may be. But every marriage has its bumps. How can you tell whether you really should get a divorce or whether you should continue working to repair your marriage? “Divorce is a process and not an event,” says Deborah J. Cohan, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, who specializes in intimacy and relationship issues. “It is a process that actually has roots in courtship.
The patterns that are set early on reverberate throughout a relationship.” Every marriage has its issues, Cohan says. Married couples may have financial disagreements, issues surrounding work, sex, or children, or other stressors that get out of hand. “Yet there are plenty of couples who disagree over some of these or all of these issues and still manage to make it work,” Cohan says. The sign that the tension in a marriage warrants ending it altogether, Cohan says, is a sense of contempt and resentment that builds over time. “Those are the feelings that erode intimacy, partnership, friendship, and fun,” she explains. “For example, if someone comes home in the evening after work, sees the other person’s car in the driveway, and doesn’t even want to go inside,
that’s a very bad sign.” If everything about the person starts to seem irritating or if your opinion of the other person just gets worse and worse — that, Cohan says, is difficult to repair. Xanet Pailet, sex and intimacy coach and author, agrees. “When you are in a toxic relationship in which there is so much unexpressed resentment and anger that it turns into disgust and contempt for the other person, the marriage is very likely beyond repair,” Pailet says. Toxic relationships come in many forms, but Pailet says this scenario may apply to your relationship if your skin crawls when you see the person or if you can’t stand being in the same room. “If you are constantly mocking each other,
rolling your eyes, and treating each other with such a deep level of disrespect, divorce is likely in your future,” she says. In addition to this scenario, experts agree that if you are in an abusive relationship, you should seek to end it and to get the help you need. “If you experience any type of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, you should absolutely be leaving the marriage immediately,” Pailet advises, “and if necessary, seek shelter with friends or family.” If your marital problems are less serious, experts say the marriage may be worth working on together. Your relationship may once again become a happy one! The happiness that comes with successful marriages may be one of the reasons married people actually live longer.