Advice When You're Faced with the Divorce
By Susie and Otto Collins
After Cheryl's husband Pete had an affair, she thought that
she'd eventually be able to get over the shock, hurt and
This is her partner of over 20 years!
She and Pete talked, he agreed to end the affair and they
planned to make significant changes in
their relationship in order to re-build trust.
That was 9 months ago and it seems to Cheryl that nothing
has actually changed for the better between them. In fact,
she's not even certain that he actually ended his affair.
After a betrayal of trust, such as infidelity, in a
relationship, you might be wondering if you've had enough.
Perhaps you've been unhappy with your spouse for quite
Maybe the two of you argue frequently. Or maybe you don't
argue, but there has been a distance and coldness between
you for a long time.
Making the decision to end your marriage and get a divorce
is one of the biggest you will probably make in your
Even in cases where it is clear that breaking up is truly
best for both of you, it still is not the easiest thing to
What is your bottom line?
We all have limits when it comes to what we will and will
not tolerate. It can be the case that limiting ways of
thinking can box us in and keep us stuck.
But other times, limits can serve as healthy boundaries. By
honoring this type of limit, we remain true to our
Those limits-- what you are willing to tolerate-- probably
have a bottom line. This is the proverbial line in the sand
which you will not cross.
It's different for us all, but each and every one of us has
a bottom line.
If you aren't clear about what your bottom line is, take
some time to go within. You might write down on a piece of
paper the qualities and aspects that are most important to
These could be called your values. We are not suggesting
that certain values are good and others are bad.
This is an individual determination.
While you cannot determine another person's values-- not
even those of your spouse-- you can make relationship and
life choices that are
alignment with your values.
This often involve making agreements with your partner and
setting boundaries when necessary.
Return to your list of values. Circle those that seem like a
bottom line value to you. These are the things that you
absolutely will not be flexible about.
Cheryl makes a list of her values. After this exercise, it's
apparent that fidelity is a bottom line value for her.
She feels doubtful about Pete keeping his promise to end the
affair and so her bottom line value seems to be in jeopardy.
As she writes down her values, Cheryl realizes that many of
the other words she wrote on her list are not being honored
By staying in this marriage, she is also not honoring her
commitment to be in a trust-filled, mutually respecting
Cheryl is beginning to believe that ending her marriage is
the only way she will be able to start lining up with her
personal values again.
She plans to get more information to try to figure out if
Pete is still cheating. And she also plans to obtain
information about filing for a divorce.
What is your next step?
Just like Cheryl, by writing out what your personal values
are-- especially your bottom line-- you might feel less
conflicted or confused about whether or not you want to take
steps toward a
And, even if you make the decision to end your marriage as
Cheryl did, you don't necessarily need to run out, find an
attorney and file for divorce immediately.
You can take this process at a pace that feels right for
You might, for example, choose to live separately from your
spouse for a period of time.
During this separation, the two of you might meet with a
counselor or coach or you might choose to begin your new
You might also decide to give your relationship more time.
Perhaps the strategies to rebuild trust that you and your
spouse have been trying just aren't a good fit for your
Seek outside help from a professional and/or books and cds
for new ideas that might help you form new relationship
habits that will bring the
improvements you want.
On the other hand, you might feel so clearly that it is time
for you to end your marriage that you do want to take the
first steps in getting a divorce.
Only you can know what the best next step is for you.
If you have children, we encourage you to be considerate of
them and keep them informed about the changes happening in
your marriage as is appropriate for their ages.
We don't suggest that you stay together only "for the sake
of the kids."
This can prove miserable for all of you involved. As
difficult as it can be for young ones to share time with
divorced parents, it can be emotionally damaging for them to
live in an environment that is angry, upset and hurtful.
Above all, we encourage you to trust yourself and your own
Take the time to really tune in to what's most important to
you and to what you decide for your next step.