As a vocal single woman, I find that I’m oftentimes considered a safe space for women who are unhappy in their marriages and contemplating getting a divorce. For reasons I can understand (on the surface), they tend to feel comfortable using me as a sounding board to ask the hard questions they’ve only considered internally. It’s been a really interesting position for me because, frankly, I’m no expert on the subject. I only have my experience.

While I’ve appreciated the trust, openness and candor of women who have confided in me, I recognize that every couple’s experience will be singular and specific to what they have gone through. I have no right to give input on an experience that isn’t my own. However, I am a part of a larger collective of people who have serious thoughts on the topic of getting a divorce. That said, I want to share a space for genuine and sincere conversation about the realities of divorce. My hope is that anyone, male or female, who has suffered a divorce will also chime in to help support others who are on brink of deciding whether to stay or give up.

The Right Time to Consider Getting a Divorce

So let me first preface this discussion with a definitive statement: there is never a “right time” to get a divorce.

I think many people expect me to express a sentiment opposite that. Because I’m secure in where I am in life right now, I think the expectation is for me to say, “Oh, divorce awesome! Life is grand! Definitely go be single again!” That’s nowhere near where I am or what I believe. Want to know my real response? “Single life is hard. Really hard.” I have an amazing support system. I love all of the opportunities I’ve been offered. I really love my life now. But make no mistake: this isn’t the life I dreamed of having.

Getting a divorce was never in my plans, and it has never been a preference. I can embrace it now because I know the work I put into saving my marriage. I dug in deep to reconcile—for years. That’s a part of my story people don’t realize or always focus on in their own situations. When I announced that I had entered single motherhood, I owned it because I knew the effort and steps that I took to NOT be there. A lot was lost in the story from the reader’s paradigm.

My announcement didn’t explain the numerous times my (then) husband and I worked on reconnecting. It didn’t show the countless therapy and counseling sessions we attended. It didn’t illustrate the things we did, from A to Z, to exhaust all options to make things better. I embraced my decision because I knew at the end of it all we tried and gave everything. If someone cannot say the same about their relationship efforts with absolute confidence, I dare say getting a divorce shouldn’t be a consideration.

The importance of Self-Reflection

Before you decide if you and your partner should consider getting a divorce, I think it’s vital to consider the actions and motivations of both parties throughout the relationship. And, that should first start with you considering yourself. I firmly believe you have to work on yourself before you can walk away from a marriage as the best you. You have to get real with yourself regarding why things are not working, and if you were responsible for any part of a breakdown. I think both parties must do that genuinely and equally. If not, both parties will potentially bring skewed or dishonest realities to to the table.

I had to do that before considering my ex’s faults in the relationship. Make no mistake: I threw some hard questions my ex’s way, but I had to direct them to myself first. Am I responsible for doing some things wrong? What could I fix about how I handled situation X that keeps recurring? What could I have done better about situation Y? Doing so made me hone in on my own strengths and core sense of self. It also helped me take responsibility for the things I could change while simultaneously defining the things that were out of my control. It helped me walk away from my situation knowing I was leaving as my best “me,” something I feel is important in setting up a healthy foundation for a new life, if that is the ultimate choice that’s decided.

Know Your Reality

When it’s all said and done, there is only one perfect answer to the question of getting a divorce. But I don’t and never will have that answer. The decision is completely up to you. You and only you know your reality. Only you know if the relationship can be restored or if it is beyond repair. Only you know what you and your partner have done or not done, if you have both given your all, and what you ultimately want or don’t want from each other at this point.

That’s a reality that can be seen and experienced by no one else, so don’t let anyone define it for you. Your friends’ thoughts about your significant other don’t matter. What others think about your situation doesn’t matter. Your parents’ opinions don’t matter. YOU and your reality matter. That’s all. Don’t give weight to anyone or anything that hasn’t experienced exactly what you have. If it can’t work, make the changes you deem necessary to do something different. If you can fix it, solve the problem(s) and pursue happiness with your partner. But only you know what can and should be done. Don’t make excuses for or against that reality.

A Final Word

Divorce is and should be a very difficult decision and consideration. As with any other hard decision, you should be able to stand by it confidently. The choice to exit a marriage shouldn’t be made with any less thought than you had when you entered it.

I think it’s also important to note that getting a divorce won’t necessarily make things in your life easy or easier, especially if children are a part of your union. Neither will divorce erase all that you experienced in your relationship, both good and bad. As with everything else in life, your choice to stay or go will simply be a part of your journey and story. The next step in the plot’s amazing and beautiful development is yours to make.

Choose wisely.

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