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8 Revealing Questions To Ask Yourself If You Think You Want A Divorce (& What To Do Next)

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Should I Get A Divorce? Signs Your Marriage Is Over & You Should Break Up
Love, Heartbreak

You deserve to be happy.

When you're considering leaving your spouse, you may have a long list of possible reasons for divorce. And whatever your top reasons for breaking up are, it's obvious that you've seen signs that your marriage is over, and that you're simply not as happy as you once were.

When asking yourself, "Should I get a divorce?" it's important to recognize that there are many causes of divorce, and if you're feeling like things are simply not working out, then you'll know when it's time to move on.

RELATED: Stop Being A Victim Of Your Own Divorce & Take Charge Of Your Life​

Married life is complicated. Spouses who are afraid to leave their unhappy marriage will question not only their relationships but also themselves. While outsiders may be quick to judge those who linger in misery, the act of leaving is rarely simple.

Although it may be healthy and happy, a marriage doesn't bask forever in wedding day euphoria. It has its proverbial ups and downs and sprinkles even the happiest partners with periodic longings for independence. 

So how do you know when your marriage is over? What causes a happy marriage to go bad and lead down the road of divorce?

When marriages take on the dark cloud of being unhappy or even toxic, countless signs come up:

  • Infidelity
  • Violence
  • Anger issues
  • Indifference
  • Drug/alcohol abuse
  • Lying
  • Sexless
  • Control/dominance
  • Improper/abusive parenting

And yet, when people are in an unhappy marriage but are afraid to leave, their reasons for not leaving can almost skirt the gravity of their unhappiness:

  • Staying together for the kids
  • Not wanting to part with money
  • Not wanting a lesser lifestyle or loss of home
  • Overwhelmed by the divorce process
  • Fear of loneliness

RELATED: 30 Real Women Reveal The Exact Moment They Knew Their Marriage Was Over

The underlying resistance to leaving an unhappy marriage almost always comes down to fear, so knowing when to leave a relationship is more complicated than just knowing you're unhappy.

The prospect of divorce feels shameful and embarrassing and the thought of court, conflict, and expenses create a panic that they can't seem to envision a better future.

There is also fear of financial deprivation or loss. If the couple has children, there is worry about their welfare. Divorce can also lead to lower self-esteem, breeding the fear of never being loved again.

What are you to do if you have an unhappy marriage but are afraid to leave? What if you know that things between you and your spouse are not going to get better so you are just living out your days? What if, deep inside, you know that you are staying married in name only and for a list of people that doesn't include yourself?

Obviously, the decision to stay or leave is one that only you can make. And that decision can be made only as a conclusion to an authentic questioning of your own heart.

If you're still unsure, ask yourself these 8 questions:

  1. Are you happy with the life you are living?
  2. Years from now, perhaps after your children are grown and gone, will you regret staying or leaving?
  3. Are you staying because of what others might think?
  4. Is your partner committed to making your marriage work, or are you both in a marriage alone?
  5. Is there abuse or any other reason to fear for your safety or that of your children?
  6. Has your social and support circle diminished?
  7. Have you made every effort you can to save your marriage from getting to this point?
  8. Do you feel dead inside?

If you know that you are too afraid to leave your unhappy marriage, you will have to come to grips with the ultimate personal sacrifice.

For each day that you stay in a toxic environment, you lose a little more of yourself. Your life becomes a slow, emotional, and spiritual death.

It may sound nonsensical, but embracing your fears is an important step in rising past them. The process is both as simple and difficult as facing each fear on its own and countering it with facts and action sufficient to release it.

If your marriage is in any way toxic or abusive and you know you need to leave, your preparation will be especially important. You must recognize the signs your relationship is over so you can move on and find happiness again.

RELATED: 10 Brutal Lessons I Learned From My Divorce — So You Won't Have To

Here are 5 steps you can take once you decide your marriage is over and you want a divorce (so you can find happiness again):

1. Secure your safety

First and foremost is safety. Always. Secure in advance safe housing and protection (if necessary). Tell one to several people whom you trust exactly what you are intending to do, and keep them informed as you go through the process.

Become a detective on your own behalf and collect information, weigh all your options, and consider all your possible losses in light of all you stand to gain. In the final analysis, what carries the greater weight?

2. Secure your future and finances

Worried about your financial survival? Begin the process of creating financial independence. Understand your financial affairs and, if possible, find a financial planner to help you create a plan and a way to manage it.

Start looking for ways to increase your income. Even part-time work can forge confidence in your ability to provide and to survive independently.

Need education or training to guarantee the right job for you? Start researching classes or simply begin exploring topics online. Not only will your financial confidence increase, but your self-confidence will, as well.

3. Make sure your kids will be taken care of

If you have children, securing an attorney with a specialty in custody can help you navigate one of your most justified fears — the welfare of your children.

The fear of losing your kids can be paralyzing. But a good family attorney can relieve a lot of that anxiety by looking out for and maximizing your time with them.

The fact that a marriage is unhappy, let alone toxic or dangerous, doesn’t mean it is easy to leave. Quite the contrary, actually.

Such a marriage tends to be more complicated to leave, not less. Relationship patterns become ingrained and money and children take time and conscientious handling when dividing a home and family.

4. Seek professional help

When you are in an unhappy marriage but are afraid to leave, it is especially important to have knowledge, wisdom, and objectivity on your side.

By having a divorce coach, therapist, and trusted family attorney onboard early in the process, you will add to your circle of those who know your intentions and can support you.

If you are married to someone who is manipulative, threatening or dangerous in any way, stop any direct communication after separating. Communicate through your attorneys or directly only, as is necessary for children involved. You will need clarity and only those influences with your highest good at heart.

5. Do things that bring you joy

Come back to the feeling of doing things you love.

Marriage, in and of itself, will ask the best of you. But, an unhappy marriage can rob you if it, then demand it as you try to find your way out. It sounds unfair, if not impossible.

If you are in an unhappy marriage but are afraid to leave, know that you do have choices, and you can rise to happiness. Take a deep breath and calmly weigh the value of your life against the price you are paying by not living it.

RELATED: Should I Get A Divorce? How To Know For Sure

Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce and life coach. Her writing on marriage and divorce has appeared on MSN, Yahoo! & e-Harmony among others. You can learn more about Karen and her work on her website.

This article was originally published at Dr. Karen Finn. Reprinted with permission from the author.