As a family lawyer, one wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that I only ever suggest that divorce is the right choice.
I’ve seen my fair share of positive and negative divorce outcomes during my 35 years in practice, but no matter the outcome rarely is the journey through divorce easy and without emotional pain and financial stress.
Certainly, there are family conflict situations, such as domestic violence and abuse where separation and divorce are necessary for the safety, protection, health and well-being of both parties and all children involved.
But of the one in three ‘failed’ marriages in Australia that will end in divorce, I believe many can be saved.
If you and your partner are willing to take an active role in your marriage, look realistically at your relationship and explore all other options, you can repair your marriage and become a happier and stronger couple.
Whether the decision to divorce is mutual, forced upon you or at your request, here are some things to reflect on to help you weigh up whether divorce is the right choice for you.
Expectations versus reality
Before you married did you have expectations of what your marriage would be like? Did you share these expectations with your partner? In hindsight, were these even realistic?
Often, we don’t know we have these expectations until they aren’t being met. And if we don’t know what we expect, our partners most likely don’t know either.
Continually unspoken and unmet expectations can lead to disappointment, resentment and even conflict.”
Throughout a marriage, couples can discover and develop new expectations. And it’s these continually unspoken and unmet expectations that can lead to disappointment, resentment and even conflict.
If your marriage expectations aren’t meeting your marriage reality, it’s time to let your partner know.
Fixed versus fluid
Few people enter marriage with the idea of divorce in mind. Many of us blindly believe that on the whole things will stay the same.
But throughout a marriage people change, careers take different directions, the family unit evolves as couples introduce children and inevitably priorities shift.
Change is natural and can also bring growth, knowledge and self-improvement.”
No one knows how changes will affect a marriage. But when couples understand that change is natural and can also bring growth, knowledge and self-improvement, they can learn how to accept the change in our partners and work on continuing to grow together.
The number one reason couples divorce is due to a lack of communication – openly and honestly sharing your ideas, thoughts, and feelings with your partner.
Not everyone is comfortable in expressing themselves, even married couples who have reared children and shared other life experiences together.
When couples aren’t happy in their marriage, it can be easier to sweep it under the carpet than initiate an uncomfortable conversation.
The longer issues go unresolved the more they can fester.”
Research suggests that generally men and women have different communication needs and styles: where women need men to validate their thoughts and feelings, men believe women tend to nag and complain.
When married couples know what they need and how best to communicate their needs with their partner, they’re more likely to achieve a better outcome.
Speaking with someone external to your marriage can help you to see whether divorce is the right choice for you, but where possible, the best place to start is with your partner.
*Andrew Corish is an Accredited Specialist in Family Law with Corish & Co Specialist Family Lawyers North Sydney. He is trained in Family Dispute Resolution.