Divorce: I Want to Leave – What Should I Do?


As a divorced woman, I tend to get asked advice from friends and acquaintances about divorce and how I knew it was time to leave.

Over the years I have been approached by several women saying they are unhappy in their marriage and what should they do?

My immediate advice is Right Now Do Nothing. The exception to this is if anyone in your household, yourself or the children, are being physically or mentally abused. In this case, you should definitely remove yourselves from that situation immediately.

Divorce is one of the most difficult and heartbreaking experiences you can go through, firstly for the immediate family involved, but also the extended family and friends. The ripple effect spreads far and wide and lasts for a lifetime.

Deciding whether to leave or not should take time and a huge amount of thought. It is not a decision to be taken lightly, made impulsively or used as a threat.

However, the flip side to this, is life is short. If you are unhappy in your life, then you need to change something. If your marriage is dead and unfulfilling, and beyond repair, then LEAVE!

One of my favourite quotes is “Life is not a dress rehearsal”. This is the real thing and we get one shot at it. Sometimes, any decision is better than years of indecision. Even wrong decisions can eventually turn out to be right because at least you took control and made a decision. Time is ticking away and you are in control of your destiny and your future.

Make a list of why you want to leave and examine it carefully.

  • Are any of these things just temporary?
  • Can they change in the next year or two?
  • Can they BE changed, or are these all reasons out of your control ?
  • Is there something you could do to change this situation to make it more bearable, or even enjoyable?

We all know that life can be very hard sometimes, and marriages are not always easy. If there is a light at the end of the tunnel, then perhaps it is best to put your miner’s hat on and start walking the tunnel!

Counselling:  Have you and your partner had counselling? Not just chatting to your friends about it, not just talking together about it. I mean meeting with a trained professional who is experienced at getting you both talking about the important things? There may be some unresolved issues which are really standing in the way of true communication and intimacy.

Can you take a break?  Is there a way you could pull away from this situation for long enough to catch your breath and perhaps change your thought process?

A 3-month sabbatical to a tiny town in France may seem ridiculous to your friends, but if it saved your marriage would it be worth it? Perhaps it doesn’t even need to be this dramatic (but hey, how good does it sound?). Perhaps a week away at a friend’s holiday house is all you need to clear your head and give you some clarity.

There was a point leading up to my divorce when I was paralysed with fear and just did not know which way to go. I knew I was unhappy and thought I wanted to leave but the consequences had me frozen.

At this time, I was recommended a book, called Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay by Mira Kirshenbaum which helped me greatly. I worked through the 36 questions in the book which gave me some greater clarity and eventually helped me to make the decision to leave. But not until after I read the book through again!

While my life, and the lives of all those close to me, has been tinged with sadness because of the divorce, and life has not always been easy, it has been a decision I have not regretted.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is stuck in this limbo of indecision.

I do have one important piece of advice.

Remember that once those words are out of your mouth, you can’t take them back. Once you have uttered the words “I want a divorce”, it goes downhill fast. It will take you by surprise how fast things snowball after that.

  • To leave and regret it later would be heartbreaking.
  • To stay, and live a life unfulfilled and empty, would be even more heartbreaking, and full of the constant wondering of what may have been.

Choose wisely and trust your gut.

Avatar of Cathy Bennett

Cathy is a single empty nester, ex primary school teacher, now working in aged care. Mum to Ryan 20, and Lindsay 22 and owner of two dogs. As a full-time sales manager, part time writer, and voluntary dog rescuer, life is busy and fabulous.

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