Divorce is not uncommon today, but that doesn't mean making the decision to end a marriage has gotten any easier. Often, there are a number of factors to consider, from children to finances, and sometimes the answer isn't always in black and white.
Plus, divorce regret is a real thing. According to a 2016 survey conducted by U.K. law firm Seddons, 22 per cent of more than 800 divorcees wished they hadn't ended their marriage.
Sir Paul Coleridge, a retired family law judge in London, can attest to this. "Of course there are cases where divorce is inevitable. I haven't sat in the courts for 40 years without knowing that there are cases where it is just as well the parties separated," he told The Sun U.K.
"But it has been obvious to me that, by and large, a significant proportion of people who separate wish they had not five years down the line."
Although Statistics Canada no longer provides updated information on divorces across the country, a 2011 census found that roughly five million Canadians separated or divorced in the last 20 years.
If you've been struggling with the decision to get divorced, Karolina Pasko, a New York-based registered psychotherapist and relationship coach, suggests you ask your partner these three questions.
1.Would you be happier without this relationship?
"The despair in a relationship can be caused by the unresolved inner conflict that is projected onto the relationship," Pasko told HuffPost Canada in an email.
That's why the psychotherapist says it's important for couples to take a step back and figure out whether stresses from other areas of their lives are having a negative impact on their marriage.
"When we are going through the tumultuous time in our relationships, we tend to focus on the negative or what we do not have," she explained. "The grass always seems greener on the other side."
Ask your partner the question above so that you both have the same understanding of where the negativity from your relationship is coming from.
2. Do you like the person you've become in marriage?
Marriage isn't always a blessing. Sometimes it can bring out the worst in you and your partner, which is something you both need to recognize.
This particular question will help you figure that out, as well as whether or not "the bad times outweigh the good ones."
"After years of self-sacrifice, trauma, and self-doubt, people tend to stay in relationships [instead of ripping off] the Band-Aid," Pasko said. "When you have to become somebody you are not to make another person happy, you know that the Band-Aid needs to go and healing must enter."
3. What are you prepared to do and give up to make this relationship work?
"When things get emotional, our judgment tends to be clouded by phrases like 'no more' or 'I am done trying,'" the relationship coach said. "Asking your partner what they are willing to do instead of what they are not will invite a breath of positive air into your conversations."
Having this open and honest conversation with your partner could help resolve conflict and bring balance back into the relationship. But while compromise is key, Pasko warned that couples should be aware of when they are asking too much of their partner, as too much self-sacrifice can be toxic.
Other major things to consider, according to Pasko, is how your marriage conflict is affecting your kids (if you have them) and if you are staying in the relationship due to social pressures or fear of loneliness.
Referring to the former, Pasko said, "Often we suck it up for the kids, but think again. When your kids are seeing you — their role models — mistreating, devaluating, stonewalling, or disrespecting each other, you should understand that they will seek out this type of relationship when they grow up."
As for the latter, the psychotherapist noted that the divorce stigma is less than it used to be (heck, there are even divorce parties now!), and added that "Today, staying when you can leave is a new shame."
Regarding the loneliness excuse, Pasko said: "Remember, the decision made out of fear is rarely the right decision."
"The only way you will make the right decision is if it is based on truth and responsibility," she said. "Stop worrying about what is wrong with you. Stop asking questions about your spouse and start asking questions about the life you want and how you will take charge of the new you regardless of your decision."
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