Deciding to end your marriage is a big decision.
You got married thinking that this person was someone you were going to spend the rest of your life with. You committed to each other, and have shared a home, memories, perhaps even a family.
Leaving all this behind can be a lot to process and you have to be 100% sure it’s the right thing for you.
Ending a marriage isn’t just about finding someone else, it changes everything about your life as you know it. It’s a big step that won’t be easy and will come with challenges of its own.
Despite this, if your marriage isn’t making you happy, and you can’t see a future anymore, then ending it might be the right next step for you.
But be sure that you’ve thought seriously about what a breakup would mean. Knowing when to call it quits in a relationship isn’t always straightforward. You don’t want to put a strain on your relationship if it’s not something you’re truly serious about, so make sure you’re certain where your motivations are coming from if you decide to approach the subject with your spouse.
There’s a lot to consider if you decide you don’t want to save your marriage. So, to make sure you’ve taken the time before you make your final decision, read the suggestions below on what to do before you make anything permanent.
1. Don’t make any big decisions while you’re emotional.
If you’re thinking about ending your marriage, don’t do anything when you’re in an emotional state.
You might think there’s no hope for your marriage immediately following a big argument or when you’re upset, but when you’re feeling calmer and more rational again, you may feel differently.
An argument doesn’t have to mean the end of your marriage. Separating from your spouse needs to be carefully considered because it’s not a decision that’s easy to go back on. Sure, remarrying your ex is an option, but why put yourself through so much difficulty if you think you might change your mind later?
Running away from the issues in your marriage might feel like the easiest option, but if you have something worth fighting for, then fight.
If you’re thinking about ending your marriage because you’re upset about a recent issue with your spouse, wait a few days before you commit to any big decisions. It’s hard to think rationally when you’re emotional, and having some time and space to process your thoughts can help you find a better sense of perspective on the situation.
That said, you shouldn’t dismiss the feelings you have when you’re emotional. You should be in a relationship that brings you happiness, and if you’re constantly being let down or disappointed by your spouse, then you might be right in thinking that this relationship isn’t for you anymore.
To avoid regrets further down the line, wait until you’re in a rational frame of mind before you make any final decisions about whether you’re physically and emotionally prepared to leave your relationship.
2. Think about how long you’ve been feeling this way.
Ending a marriage isn’t a decision that should be made lightly. You need to carefully consider what it means so that you’re sure it’s what you want.
How long have you been thinking about divorcing your spouse? Is it something you’re considering because you had an argument recently, or have you been mulling it over for a while?
Has there been a change in your life recently that could be affecting how you feel? Perhaps a new job is making either you or your partner more stressed and keeping you away from each other. Or perhaps you aren’t feeling like yourself at the moment and can’t give your relationship the attention it needs.
If the downward spiral in your relationship can be linked to something within your control, then it’s worth trying to find and solve the root of that particular problem rather than giving up on your relationship completely.
Every marriage has moments when you must work hard to keep it together. You might just be finding yourself in one of those difficult patches where, with a little more communication, you can bring your relationship back to where you want it to be.
If you know that you’ve tried to make your marriage work but you still feel as though it’s no longer bringing out the best in you, then you can be more secure in knowing that this is what you really want. Just make sure you’ve thought it through first.
3. Speak to your partner about how you feel.
It sounds like the most obvious advice, but for some people it can also feel like the hardest thing to do. If you’re considering ending your marriage, then you really should speak to your partner about it first.
If you feel ignored or disappointed by your partner, they won’t be able to change if you aren’t communicating with them about it. You feel that it’s obvious what you need from them, but unless you’ve explicitly told them, then there is always room for misunderstanding.
You may be a married couple, but you are still two individuals, and people approach situations in different ways. Your spouse might not fully realize the depth of how you’re feeling and, if they did, they would want to do everything possible to try to keep you.
Nothing in your relationship is going to change unless you let your partner know what you need from them. By being honest with each other, you’re creating an opportunity for you both to try to make things better. If your partner doesn’t take the chance or want to change, then you know you’re making the right decision in choosing to leave.
4. Think about any regrets you’d have.
Ending a marriage is a life-altering decision to make. If you’re going to set off a volatile period in your life, then you need to be sure that you’d have no regrets.
Even if you feel sure at this moment that you don’t want to save your marriage, there will be moments to come when you feel lonely or nostalgic, and you might look back on your relationship through a different lens. It’s in these moments that you don’t want to sit thinking “what if” and regret the decision you made.
The only way to feel certain about ending your marriage is to know in your heart that there was nothing else you could have done to save it. You might miss the relationship you once had, but even in your lowest moments, you’ll be able to pick yourself up and move forward knowing that as much as you wanted your marriage to work, there was nothing more you could have done.
Have you tried as hard as possible to keep your marriage together? If not, this is the moment to decide to give it one last try. It may not be easy, and it may not work, but if you can honestly say there was nothing else you could have tried to repair the distance between you and your spouse, then you can leave the marriage secure in the knowledge that you’re doing the right thing for you.
5. Think about what separation really means.
When you think about getting a divorce, are you thinking about what it really means, or are you just focusing on one small element of it?
In your mind, ending your marriage might be a way to escape the fights you’ve been having or to allow you the opportunity to meet someone new. But have you thought about everything involved with separation that you might not be ready for?
Ending your marriage won’t make everything better immediately. You’re suddenly going to be on your own, both emotionally and financially. You’ll be thrown back into the world of being single, and you may not find someone else that you connect with for a long time.
If you’re expecting a new romance to happen immediately, and the life you’ve always wanted to materialize, you could be in for a rude awakening.
Before you decide to break off your marriage, be realistic about what this separation means and how your life will change because of it. There is a framework detailing the 6 stages of divorce you will have to go through, which are: legal, emotional, economic, co-parental, community, and psychological.
It’s not going to be easy, and you need to be prepared for the good and the bad that comes with ending a marriage if it’s something you really want to do.
6. Think about what you would miss.
If you’re thinking about ending your marriage, it might be because you’re focused on everything that’s wrong in your relationship.
You’ve become so consumed by the negatives that you’ve forgotten you did once share happier times with your partner. There was a reason you were attracted to each other in the first place, and if you look for it, some of that attraction might still be there.
Think about what you’d miss if you broke up with your spouse, and indulge in a little reminiscing over the good times. Think about the reality of not having them in your life anymore to see if there are any strong feelings left there that are enough to change your mind about how you feel.
Take time to think seriously about whether you have any doubts about letting your partner go. Listen to your heart and be sure you’re making a decision based on your own happiness. Don’t take the decision lightly, and be 100% certain that you want to leave before you do.
7. Think about what would make you want to stay.
Would you stay in your marriage if there was something about it that changed, or have things escalated so far that you genuinely can’t see a future in it anymore?
If there is something that would make you want to stay, then it’s worth speaking to your partner about. If your partner knew that there was something they could do that would make you want to give your marriage another go, then you might be surprised by how willing they are to try it.
It also means that there is hope for your relationship. If you would consider staying, then you haven’t completely let go of the idea that your marriage could work. If there is a chance that your marriage could reach a happier place again, then are you sure you really want to throw that chance away?
All you can do is speak to your partner and try. See if they are willing to work with you to give your relationship one more chance rather than give up on it completely without ever knowing if it could have worked.
8. Are you physically ready to separate?
The end of a marriage doesn’t just come with an emotional separation, it comes with a physical separation too. You need to think about what splitting up will mean for your life and what that leaves you with. You need to know how to prepare for a breakup to make the whole process easier.
You won’t have the financial support of another income, and you might have to consider moving and leaving the home you built together. You will be on your own; you will no longer have someone else to rely on to be there for you if you’re ever in a difficult spot.
All of this is manageable if you’re sure it’s really what you want. If you did choose to separate, what would your life look like afterward?
Consider everything you may have to leave behind, and the change in lifestyle you might need to make to be able to financially support yourself. Separating isn’t just about not being with your partner, it’s about true independence, and the reality of that might look different to how you’d imagined it.
Don’t just focus on what you could gain from ending things, you need to also think about the logistics of actually separating from them in the first place and all of the financial, physical, and emotional investment that will take.
9. Are you ready to see your spouse with someone new?
You say you don’t want to save your marriage, but are you sure you’re ready for what that means?
If you’re only focused on how you’re feeling and what you could get out of life if you were single, then you might not have thought about how it would feel seeing your ex-spouse with someone else.
Sometimes you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone, and it could take seeing your spouse with someone new to make you realize everything you love about them.
No one is perfect, and no matter how good a couple seems together, there are always going to be times when they irritate or upset each other. Try to make sure you’re not focusing so much on everything you don’t like about your spouse that you forget the reasons you were together in the first place.
Seeing someone else appreciate everything great about your ex can put things back into perspective, and you don’t want to regret making the decision to leave when that happens. It can be even harder to see your ex with someone else if you haven’t found anyone new yourself.
You don’t know what the future holds. If you separate from your partner, you need to be prepared for the possibility that single life will be far different than how you imagine it.
Make sure you are ready to let go of your spouse before you make any permanent decisions, because once they’re gone, that could be it.
10. Who would the separation affect?
Your decisions in your relationship need to be about your own happiness, because you’re the one that has to live with them.
But ending your marriage might not just affect you and your partner. If you are part of the same friendship group, or have close families, you should keep in mind how your separation will affect everyone else too.
It could split a friendship group at worst, or at least make it awkward for everyone to be around each other for a time. By distancing yourself from your ex’s family, you’d be losing a future relationship with them too.
If there are children involved, then it’s vitally important to consider whether a separation is really what you want. You need to be absolutely sure and ready to co-parent in the best way you can to try to keep their lives as normal as possible.
It’s certainly better to be apart than living through an unhappy relationship, as this can affect those around you just as much as going your separate ways.
But when it’s not just your feelings involved, you need to be sure that any pain that is shared by loved ones will be worth it in the end as you become a happier, emotionally healthier version of yourself.
11. Try therapy.
You might be at the point where you just don’t feel as though you can communicate with your partner and things in your relationship aren’t improving. You don’t know how to move on from the rut you find yourselves in, and ending your relationship seems like the only option left.
If you haven’t already tried, this is one of those times when going to couples therapy is highly recommended. It might be the final trick to try before you call it quits.
Speaking to a professional—one who is trained to remain neutral in their opinions while encouraging both you and your partner to find and address the source of your issues—could help you finally communicate in the way you’ve never been able to before.
Rather than speaking to a friend or family member who could be biased in the advice they give, a therapist is trained to know how to get the best out of a session and help you and your partner work through your issues together.
You won’t see the effects if you don’t commit, so try giving it some time and see if it can make a difference to how you feel.
Speak to a certified relationship counselor because they are best-placed to help you try one last time to save your marriage. You may want to try speaking to someone via RelationshipHero.com for practical advice that is tailored to your exact circumstances. All from a service that has helped over 100,000 people with their relationship challenges.
If you’re really sure you don’t want to save your marriage, then there are still some more factors to consider. Make sure you’re prepared by thinking about some of the suggestions below.
12. Get your affairs in order.
Marriage isn’t only about separating emotionally from your spouse; you need to plan what a physical move could look like. You must think about where you might live if it’s not with your partner, how you’re going to afford your lifestyle without a dual income, and how you’ll manage seeing family and friends if you can’t see them when you and your ex are in the same place.
If you’ve made up your mind that you want to leave your spouse, then think about starting to prepare by separating your incomes and putting some savings away for a deposit on somewhere new to live.
Consider the practical aspects of a separation as well, such as how you would divide your assets. Pay as much attention to thinking about how to separate financially as you would emotionally. That way, you can be more ready to face this big change in your life.
13. Be respectful.
Sadness can easily turn to anger, and when you’re both hurt and feeling vulnerable during this split, it can be easy to say things you don’t mean and make the whole process even more hostile.
As hard as it might feel at times, try your best to be respectful and not add to the tension between you and your partner.
When you tell your spouse you want a divorce, they could be shocked and upset. Neither of you are necessarily going to be thinking rationally when you’re going through that process. Give each other the time and space needed to work through your feelings and process the change.
Your ex might cope with the situation in a different way to how you do, but even if you don’t understand or agree with how they’re coping with their feelings, they deserve to be able to express their emotions in their own way without your judgment.
A little bit of respect can go a long way and, although it may not make everything better, it might just stop a bad situation from getting worse.
14. Take time to work on yourself.
If you genuinely want to end your marriage, then the first thing you need to focus on is yourself.
Even if this separation is what you want, it doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy for you to adjust to your new life.
Don’t try to cover how you feel by distracting yourself with something or someone else. Throwing yourself into work, dating, or socializing might help you feel better for a while, but it’s also a way of ignoring your real emotions about your divorce and the life you need to carve for yourself now.
You’ll never truly find peace with moving on from your marriage if you don’t take the time to find peace in yourself. Embrace your new life on your own by getting to know what truly makes you happy.
It will take as long as it needs to take for you to fully move on from your marriage, but investing in your own happiness is the best investment you can make if you want to create a life that’s right for you.
Ending your marriage is a personal decision and one only you can make the final call on.
There’s no use staying in a marriage that is making you unhappy because it’s the rest of your life you’re talking about. Even if breaking up your marriage will hurt other people in the short term, in the long run, being around you when you’re happier and emotionally healthier will not just be better for you but better for everyone else in your life too.
You’ll be able to be a better colleague, friend, and family member if you feel like you can be the best version of yourself, even when that comes with the sacrifice of your marriage.
Some relationships work for a set period of time. Even though you thought it would last forever, circumstances, or even just time, push you too far apart. But simultaneously, don’t think that marriage is always going to be easy. Being with someone for the rest of your life takes work and commitment from the both of you, and it’s not going to always be exactly how you imagined.
The idea of recapturing those early-day butterflies of a new relationship might seem exciting to you, but is it really worth throwing away the love and stability you’ve built in your relationship over time?
Whatever you decide, just make sure you’ve taken time to consider all the implications seriously first. You have to do what’s right for you, but just make sure you don’t do something you’ll later regret.