Should you divorce, a question this woman struggles with

Should You Divorce? 3 Ways to Know When Divorce is the ONLY Option

Trying to figure out if you should divorce is an agonizing process. I mean, sheer torture. It’s overwhelming and confusing and can make you go back and forth in your head, sometimes for years. Unless you’ve lived through it, I’ll never be able to adequately paint a picture for you. All I can tell you is that the question in your head “Should I or Shouldn’t I?” haunts your thoughts, your steps, your decisions, until finally, FINALLY you put it to rest with a yes or a no. I’m guessing that the title of this piece drew you in because you are struggling with this question.

Let me pause here to acknowledge that some women won’t answer the question at all. It will continue to follow them around for the rest of their days and eventually they’ll take it to their graves. My heart hurts for women who choose to live that tormented life. But for many of us, we reach a point where we must figure out the answer to that question because we simply can’t go on this way.

But does it ever become clear? Will you have a moment where you’ll know with certainty, one way or another? In my experience as a divorce coach, no. Not usually. There are so many shades of gray… and good days mixed with bad days… and that pesky “hope” that keeps thinking things will change and that quiet inner voice that keeps arguing that it won’t… that combination keeps you in a muddled state of thinking, of spinning.

You might find that it’s starkly clear to others what you should do with your life. Some won’t hesitate to tell you what they think either. Perhaps a friend, when you go to her to vent after a fight yet again, says in exasperation, “You have to divorce him!” Yet your mother may stand firm in her advice that marriage is forever and you simply have to find a way to fix it. But I’m here to tell you: I know absolutely nothing about what is clear to you. If I am talking to you, and you are stuck in that sickening cycle of thinking and wondering if you should divorce, I’ll give you three reasons when the answer is probably YES.

Should you divorce? Yes, if:

Abuse is in the picture

This was my story and it took me a long, long time to even understand that I was being abused, let alone leave. But deep down I wondered for years. I wish I had listened to my gut and looked it up, read something, talked to someone, examined our behavior to decide for myself if the way he treated me was “abusive.” I believe if I had, I would have been forced to acknowledge that it was not okay and that may have led to me getting help. I am telling you from 17 years of my own personal experience and through the stories of hundreds of women whom we’ve helped at SAS, that it never gets better. Without professional intervention, it will only get worse, I promise you. So if you wonder if (or know) that you are in an abusive situation, you have to follow your heart and figure it out.

Abuse comes in many forms, too… It does not mean you are walking around with black eyes or landing in the ER regularly. It means that he repeatedly and fundamentally disrespects you, that he hurts you emotionally, mentally, spiritually, or physically, or that you feel less than an equal human to him. If that feels awfully familiar, divorce is likely a necessary step to regaining your life, humanity and self respect.

He refuses to do anything different

You’ve recognized that something isn’t working and you know you guys need to work on it for you to survive the long haul. You may be online at night, looking at relationship websites and blogs and chatrooms … all geared toward saving a marriage. And you bring certain ideas or options you’ve learned to your partner, with excitement because there is hope! We can fix this, we just need to do X! And here’s a class/therapist/book/boot camp that will help us! Only to have him shut you down with his refusal. Maybe he’s in denial and doesn’t think anything needs changing… or he won’t see a therapist because that’s for sick people… or he says that he’ll try but constantly makes up excuses to skip out on any help you’ve organized.

There comes a point where you have to admit that he’s not going to participate with you. It’s a painful recognition. But this is a partnership and it takes both of you. You cannot keep beating a dead horse. You cannot revive this relationship alone, it’s impossible. If he refuses to do anything different, you’ll need to do something different for yourself. You must find another way of living. You should get space. This may mean divorce.

You’ve gotten professional help and exhausted all avenues

It’s heartbreaking but sometimes you have to come to a mutual agreement that you have tried everything and it’s still not going to work. Hopefully you worked together and tried talking, tried therapy, tried anything you could find that you thought would weave you back together and after all that effort, it’s still not good. In that situation, there comes a moment when it’s appropriate to stop. You must make the decision to end it with dignity and with respect for one another. At SAS, we recommend this path for those who feel they have exhausted all avenues to happiness as a couple. We encourage you to take that discovery journey together, because if you do (ultimately) decide to split, it sets you and your family up for a healthy resolution to a difficult situation. Consider Discernment Counseling, which is designed to help couples arrive at the right decision together.

We know how hard this is — this question of should you or shouldn’t you divorce? We also recognize that it’s helpful to hear from other women who have been there — and we’re telling you, as confusing as it is — there are times when the answer is more “yes” than “no.”

If you’d like more information on knowing if you should divorce, you’ll want to view our FREE video in which SAS for Women Cofounders Liza Caldwell and Kim Mishkin explain the steps you can take to see more clearly and the 4 Big Mistakes you must avoid. (This video is not live but recently filmed with an anonymous group of women viewers who participated in asking questions and commenting.)

Share these insights


  1. Janine on June 12, 2019 at 01:20

    Check, check and check. Thanks for this

    • SAS for Women on June 12, 2019 at 08:18

      You are welcome, Janine. Good luck!

  2. Melissa on December 5, 2019 at 22:10

    Tonight I asked my husband if he would consider counseling to help with our issues to which he said “how is a counselor going to fix you?” That comment spoke volumes to me I think I know what I need to do

    • SAS for Women on December 6, 2019 at 13:03

      VOLUMES, Melissa.
      It takes two to embrace the work needed to improve and rehabilitate a marriage.
      Thinking of you!

  3. Star on June 5, 2020 at 14:59

    Mu husband stops communicating with me 2 years back. What should I do?

    • SAS for Women on June 5, 2020 at 15:03

      Dear Star, the best action you can take is to spend time speaking with someone about the steps you might take. We’d welcome talking to you if you choose.
      Use this link for a free consult.
      For those of you seeking help, please know SAS for Women offers a free 15 minute coaching sessions to any woman who requests one. If you’d like to learn what next steps to support yourself might look like, we encourage you to visit this link and find a convenient time for us to talk.
      don’t give up on yourself,
      Liza @ SAS

      • Hopeful on January 26, 2024 at 15:16

        my wife of 7 years (together 11 years) told me she wants a divorce last week. we are in our 50s with no kids. there is no abuse, I’m willing to do everything differently – e.g. I’m willing to relocate closer to her family. She only wants to do discernment therapy and when she finally agrees to couples therapy, she backs out after 2 sessions. she is an avoidant – she has a hard time with self reflection and keeps herself distracted with a hectic work schedule and busy social calendar. she’s been divorced twice before. she keeps finding new things to complain about and blames me. I keep fixing these and then she finds something new. The reason given to me this time is her feelings have changed and she’s happier by herself than with me. this after telling me and her family/friends a month ago that she was back in the marriage. No conflict or arguments since then – Ive been standing back. I dont know if I should take her seriously- this has been an 20 month cycle of separation/reunion/separation/reunion/separation.

  4. Princess on June 25, 2020 at 13:10

    My husband has been doing everything to kill our marriage and blame me. No communication, no financial support, always away from home, he cheats one after another. I have to seek help on how to get out. I am busy looking for advice and will keep reading your website on how to move forward.

  5. Flower on August 11, 2020 at 12:25

    I can check all those boxes; however, still difficult to admit that my broken marriage will never be what I want it to be. Mental and verbal abuse top my list….almost 25 years of it….no fight left!

    • Joy on June 7, 2023 at 11:50

      I’m there with you….except it’s 35 years. TIME is one thing we never get back. I should have done this about 34 1/2 years ago. 🙁

  6. Wondering on December 7, 2020 at 16:43

    What if your husband feels like he’s been trying and he doesn’t have any “gas left in the tank”? We’ve never tried counseling and he is definitely not abusive. Doesn’t feel like we’ve reached the point when divorce is an absolution?

  7. BABS on August 8, 2021 at 12:48

    This marriage has been over for years. We sleep in separate rooms he hit me once about 30 years ago so I had him arrested!! But he is emotionally and mentally abusing me!! My kids think he’s perfect and I’m the crazy one. He planted that seed years ago and does gas lighting tactics and says I’m lying about fights we have gotten into!! Im 60 years old I get 500 disability just started a few months the ago. I don’t have money for an attorney but he does!! Im exhausted and tired of putting up with this crap!!nothing is his fault; its all me so he says.

  8. Desire on September 18, 2021 at 09:28

    Hey i need help
    I ask my husband to go to counseling with me and he said no, it will not make any difference.
    Please help. I’ve been suffering from depression with all of this trouble
    And no one wants me to go and talk to someone. Thank you.

    • SAS for Women on September 20, 2021 at 13:31

      Hello, Desire,
      Your name says it all. It doesn’t matter what others think or say, you have a DESIRE for things to improve in your marriage and for YOU to feel better.
      We invite you and any woman reading this comment to schedule a free consultation where we will talk with you privately and give you next healthy steps to support yourself — even if you cannot afford to work with us ongoing. We’ll look forward to speaking with you.

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