Everyone knows the phrase, “the honeymoon is over.” In almost every marriage, there comes the point when you realize it isn’t perfect or easy. You may hit some little bumps in the road, or it may get so hard that you wonder if you can stick it out. Do you even want to be with this person anymore? Is it worth trying to save the marriage?
If you’re contemplating divorce, that’s a strong signal that your marriage is in legitimate trouble. But that doesn’t mean it’s over, but it won’t save itself.
First and foremost, if you are in a violent or abusive (physically, mentally, emotionally) situation, do not delay! Make a safety plan, and leave immediately.
If that’s not the case—if you’re just in a tough spot and wondering whether your partnership will survive—it’s time to reflect deeply and honestly.
When your marriage is on the rocks, and you’re questioning and doubting, it’s common to fall into confirmation bias, finding proof everywhere of your worst fears—your spouse is impossible, your situation unmanageable, it’s hopeless, it’s OVER.
So, before you decide to call it quits, take time to focus on signs of hope consciously.
Here are 12 Signs Your Marriage is Salvageable, according to relationship experts:
- Ending your marriage fills you with doubt, dread, and distress. Typically, when someone wants to end their marriage, they reach a point of no turning back; there is pain, but there is clarity. If you feel tempted to leave, but it feels devastating, you should still work on saving the marriage if you’re not sure you want a divorce.
- You can admit you’re not perfect. You and your spouse may disagree a lot. There may be hurt, anger, and frustration. But if you both acknowledge that you have some responsibility for what’s gone wrong, there is hope you can repair the marriage. Amy Spencer, the author of the book Meeting Your Half-Orange, advises couples to shift perspective: instead of playing the blame game, recognize how your own behaviors have influenced how your spouse behaves. Cultivate empathy.
- Core values are intact and shared. If you and your spouse still have big things in common—your life philosophy, spiritual or religious beliefs, future dreams, etc.—you have a foundation to rebuild.
- The thought of divorce only comes up when you fight. Your arguments are heated and exasperating; they make you wonder what you ever saw in this person; you both blurt out hurtful things you don’t mean. However, if you only think about divorce when you’re fighting, it may differ from what you want.
- You still think of yourselves as a team. Despite your problems, you consider yourselves a unit. You have a “we/us” identity. At heart, you believe in your marriage and yourselves as a couple and can’t imagine being apart. It’s not time to pursue a divorce yet.
- You have positive associations. Seeing your spouse still makes you smile. A happy memory makes you laugh. Something triggers a reminder of the other person, and you think of what you like about them. These are often signs you can work it out.
- Things only went sideways when you had kids. It’s certainly not your child’s fault. And it’s not that you should necessarily stay together for the sake of the kids. But, if your troubles only began with the stress and exhaustion of parenting; and if you can both recognize that this time of putting family first is inevitably hard on your partnership, intimacy, and life as you knew it; and if you can support each other through that, and be intentional about finding ways also to tend your relationship—you have a solid chance at getting through this.
- Outside factors play a significant role in your unhappiness. Financial pressures, work stress, strained family relationships, and life changes are some external forces that can impact a marriage. It’s essential to discover the root of the problem. It may not be about the two of you.
- You still like spending time together. Yes, you fight a lot right now and have issues to work through, but if you still enjoy being together at least some of the time, don’t give up yet.
- You’re still intimate. When there’s a strong attraction and sexual spark, when you want to have romantic dates, even though you’re not getting along sometimes, you likely have a bond you can nurture.
- Deep down, you still love, trust, and respect each other. An actual loss of respect for the other person is usually a sign that the marriage is over. But you have a solid base if you still respect and love your partner and feel they love and appreciate you. If you feel safe sharing thoughts and feelings; if there is trust and transparency despite your disagreements; if there’s communication and closeness that undergirds it all; if you know you can be yourself with this person and you don’t have to pretend—give it another chance.
- You’re both willing to put in the work. You both believe in your marriage and its sanctity. You’re committed to doing everything you can to save the relationship. In that case, there’s a lot of work to do, it won’t be easy, and you’ll probably need professional support—but there is hope.
If you eventually decide that your marriage really is over, the caring and experienced family lawyers at SFLG are here to help you navigate the divorce process as smoothly as possible.
By Debra Schoenberg