How Do I Know I Am Ready for a Divorce?

A great question not so easily answered. Research has shown that even happy long-term marriages have rough patches that the couple manages to triumph over, not just survive. Yet, there are truly very bad marriages that often involve behaviors such as abuse and addictions. And there are marriages that have seem to have nothing “wrong” with them, except that it didn’t turn out to be a love match.

Now that divorce is more prevalent and more socially accepted, divorce has become one way to handle marital unhappiness. But how do you know if divorce is the next step? Hopefully, this tip sheet will ease some indecision.


A person is probably, emphasis on the word probably, ready for divorce when he or she agrees with statements 5, 6 and 7 and any others.

  1. There has been a history of abuse: verbally, physically and sexually. Abuse of self and children is one of the leading causes of divorce.
  2. My partner has committed a felony.
  3. My partner has absconded with my money or put us and the family in financial jeopardy due to irresponsibility.
  4. My partner has a history of rage.
  5. I have sought professional help, was honest with the therapist and took the therapist's advice over a course of time (at least three to six months.)
  6. I can honestly say that I have tried everything, including knowing and addressing that I am most likely part of the problem.
  7. I understand that major life events often trip off or amplify unsettled relationship problems. However, my desire for a divorce is independent of major life events. For example, in the last 18 months, I have not experienced major illnesses or deaths of key family members, serious financial problems, major career change/work unhappiness/firings, major moves, births or loss of a child, etc.
  8. There have been affairs, especially a history of affairs.
  9. One of the partners announces a change in sexual orientation.

In addition, if you think you are ready to divorce, try a technique that I call "Future Imaginative Scripting." Spend the next two to four weeks pretending that you have definitely decided to divorce. Don't talk about it to anyone. Just "try out the decision" for a while and see what kinds of feelings and thoughts come up.

This article first appeared in, the award-winning consumer website of the National Association of Social Workers. Enter and click on my name in the Contributors drop-down bar on the far right on the top to see more of my articles.

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Author's Bio: 

LeslieBeth Wish is a Psychologist, Clinical Social Worker and author who is nationally recognized for her contributions to women, love, relationships, family, career, workplace, and organizations.

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