For some, life in lockdown has had you re-evaluating your relationship. The emotional strain of lockdown, COVID-19 stress and financial uncertainties are taking their toll on us all right. Looking at the impact of easing out of lockdown in other countries suggests that here in Scotland we could see an increase in couples splitting up in the next year. But is now the best time to ask for a divorce? Here are some questions you might want to consider before you embark on that journey:
- Have you made clear your concerns about the relationship?
Have you communicated this to your partner and have they really heard? Recent research has shown that people hear only between 30 – 35% of what is said to them. So, they are unlikely to change their behaviour unless they are aware of your concerns. Being really clear that you’ve given it everything in terms of speaking the truth to your partner will also help in the healing process should the marriage dissolve, because you’ll know that you have done everything possible to make the relationship work.
- Do you and your spouse have shared expectations about the roles you play in the relationship?
Have you talked about expectations on the roles you play? Try writing down what you both expect from each other and divide up household chores and financial responsibilities.
- If there is a way to save the marriage, what would it be?
Making a list of what you think you need to do to save the marriage and what your spouse needs to do is a good idea. Ask your spouse does the same too. It’s important that both of you perform this exercise that way you avoid it all being about what the other person needs to do.
- Would you really be happier without your partner?
Being clear about what is most important in your life can make the decision of whether to stay in the marriage less overwhelming. So, have a realistic look at whether what you’re getting in the relationship is worth what you’re giving up.
- Do you still love him or her?
There are lots of reasons why people decide to separate or divorce. Emotions inevitably are involved which can make things complicated. It might be that you still feel love for your spouse, but you feel hurt, unloved in return, or unvalued.
- What is your biggest fear in ending the relationship?
For some people, it might be the fear of being single again or of being alone for the rest of their life. An understanding of what those fears are may help in deciding whether separation or divorce is the best way forward.
- Are you letting the prospect of divorce ruin your self-image?
The realisation that divorce maybe near often makes people feel like failures. Instead of dwelling on this, look at what you did right and build form there.
- How can the divorce be handled to minimize the harm on the children?
If you and your spouse or partner are really miserable together, getting divorced might be the best thing to do. But if you have children remember you will always be parents together and as such you are still going to be in each other’s lives. You need to think about how you’re going to do this so that the children are not caught in the middle. Avoid using your children against each other in the process and be wary of how you interact with each other in front of them.
- Are you prepared for the financial stresses divorce may bring?
Start thinking about the financials as early in the process as possible. Consider meeting with a financial adviser, if you can, talk to a lawyer and write down what this is all going to cost. With so much coming down the line, it can bring fear so it’s important to feel grounded with as many financial facts as possible.
- Do you know your rights?
Having information about your rights early on means that you will have less uncertainty and steps can be put in place to achieve a fair and appropriate outcome hopefully with bitterness, expense and delay kept to a minimum. Often the separations which are protracted are where one or both members of the separating couple have unrealistic expectations about what they can expect or are entitled to.
Remember that there are several ways to separate and divorce in Scotland and depending on your particular situation mediation, collaborative practice or even court may or may not be the best option for you. Engaging with a solicitor early on in the process can help identify which approach will be best for you and your situation. So, try not to worry about what a court battle might cost as your solicitor’s aim will be to help you to consider all the options available to help you separate in a less adversarial way.
- Am I ready to handle the day-to-day details of living that my spouse took care of?
It’s important to prepare for what life could look like post separation or divorce so you’ll need to understand that you may find yourself paying bills or figuring out taxes for the first time in years. If there are children, who will take the lead in keeping track of their activities calendar? And so on.
- How do I keep from making the same mistake the next time around?
Understand that the problem maybe you, not the particular marriage. If you are bored in a relationship, you may find yourself bored in another one, too. If you quarrel with your spouse over whose relatives to visit during the holidays, the same conflict may reappear in a subsequent relationship. Spouses who were able to realise that they contribute to marital problems could sometimes change course and possibly save a relationship or, failing that, make a future one more long lasting.
If you’re having trouble figuring out if you and your partner should divorce then you might benefit from speaking with one of our specially trained Family consultants who can help you try to work through any issues and then decide from there. Visit our search page to find a family consultant near you.