Working with the spouse who is considering divorce

Working with the spouse who is considering divorce

October 10, 2015 Couples Therapy Marriage Therapy 0
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Are you not sure of the direction you want to take in your marriage? Do you need someone to talk to who can help you with untangle the emotional web of your marriage before speaking with your spouse?

Then you should consider talking to a psychotherapist about your marriage. While the eventual outcome would be to have both spouses working together for a common cause it is not uncommon nowadays to have one spouse who is interested in starting counseling without the other one.

In this article we want to address this idea of working with one spouse who is considering divorce.

Why is Divorce Prevalent in Today’s Society?

Since the easing of the divorce laws back in the 1970’s, divorce has become more and more common among couples. Currently, 55% of couples divorce. Part of the reason is the belief that divorce allows one or both of the parties involved the opportunity to start over and be happy.

While, no statistical evidence exists proves that adults are happier when separated versus staying in an unhappy marriage, this myth persists. The challenge is that many partners have vivid memories of all the wrong, negative, or emotionally charged issues in their marriage.

However, they do not remember the good times as much. This is called attachment injury. This is the source between small arguments that grow into larger ones. The person is not arguing about the small thing, but the larger underlying problem in the marriage. It is the result of unhealthy communication between spouses. Therefore, before you decide to even speak with a psychotherapist you need to understand a few questions.

Questions to ask before seeing a psychotherapist

    1. Do you want a divorce or a better marriage with your current partner? Divorce can be a radical step to take for both parties involved. Therefore, you need to know whether your ultimate goal is divorce or improving your marriage. 
    1. Is the relationship past the breaking point? Along those lines, understand that some relationships are just not salvageable anymore. Think hard if this is one of those lines that can never be repaired. Most problems couples face are ordinary and can be fixed.
    1. How face you faced severe stressors in your relationship? 80% of couples who face events like the loss of a child, financial ruin, protracted illness, or infertility get divorced. The added stress makes it harder for couples to relate to each other and the emotional energy is just not there in many cases. It is hard to be resilient against the loss and support a partner.
    1. Have you looked at your role in the divorce? Part of the problem with attachment injuries is that they allow you to scapegoat your partner. The reality is that a marriage is a two-sided street. What role did you play to get your relationship to this point? To understand your relationship, you first need to understand yourself.
    1. Are my standards for my spouse impossible? No one is a super hero. It is impossible for our spouses to leap tall buildings, pick up the groceries, drive the kids to soccer, pay the bills, and still be attentive at night. Don’t forget that this is all in between the time they saved a kitten from a tree and foiled a robbery.


We all want to think positively of our spouses. However, our expectations must not get to the point where they            become impossible hurdles for them to leap.
2015-04-24b Learning from psychotherapy techniques -- index card #anxiety #therapy

Determine if you should talk to a psychotherapist

What do you then if you want to save your marriage, but cannot/do not bring your spouse along to therapy?

Here are a few steps to determine your next course of action:

1. Assess your situation. The first step is to assess your marriage. Is it because you need to some time to figure out the next step? Or do is it because your spouse does not want to go to counseling?

The harsh reality is that you need both sides to repair a marriage. If one side is not willing to work on it, then it might be out of your hands.

2. What is the reason your spouse does not want to go? It does take two to tango as they say, but your spouse rejecting therapy might not be a death knell to your relationship.

They might simply not have the same level of hurt as you? Communicate with them to determine how they feel. If they are not looking to go at this point, do not nag, argue, or wound the relationship further. “You can’t nag your spouse into getting help.”

3. If your spouse does not want to go, you can still go yourself. While couples counseling generally requires two people, going by yourself can help for one reason.

You can determine what actions you can take to initiate change. Remember that a marriage is a combination of two imperfect people. Focus your energy on self-improvement to see what happens.

Final Thoughts

In the end, you have to weigh whether your relationship can be saved. If you believe it is worth the effort to do so, then talking to a psychotherapist can be an instrumental step in shifting your behaviors. By shifting your own behaviors, you can then possibly shift those of your spouse as well.

If you are considering divorce and need someone to listen to you, please feel free to contact us. We are trained in helping couples get through this tough time in their life. Our number is 847-824-8366.





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