What To Do When A Marriage Starts Breaking Down

written by Fred Campos

Marriages and long-term relationships break down.

That is an unfortunate but a true sad fact of life.

It is thought that around 50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce and separation. Here are some more interesting stats and figures about marriage breakdown in the US:

  • The divorce rate per 1000 women is 16.9.
  • The divorce rate is higher than in 1960 but less than in 1980.
  • 41% of first marriages end in divorce.
  • 60% of second marriages end in divorce.
  • 73% of third marriages end in divorce.
  • The United States has the sixth highest divorce rate in the world.
  • Every thirteen seconds there is a divorce in America.
  • The average length of a first-time marriage that ends in divorce in the US is eight years.
  • The average age for the couples going through their first divorce is thirty years old.
  • If people remarry after a divorce, they wait on average three years.
  • Women are more likely to instigate a divorce; this happens in as many as 75% of marriage breakdowns.

These are some pretty sobering facts, right? They are important ones, as they help us to understand more about why divorce happens and the signs to look for that a marriage or a long-term relationship is beginning to go sour. In this post, we are going to look at some of the things that you need to do when your marriage or relationship starts breaking down.

Consider Whether You are Safe

Domestic abuse and violence are cited in around 25% of all divorce cases. If this is a factor in your relationship breakdown, it is probably not something that can be dealt with in any other way. If you do not feel safe living with your partner in the family home, make plans to leave and find somewhere safe to stay while you initiate divorce proceedings. Talk to family and friends and tell them about your situation or contact one of the many refuges or charities that exist to support people who are experiencing domestic abuse and violence. If your life or safety is in immediate danger, call the police.

Is There any Chance of Reconciliation?

Sometimes, couples do not want to separate, but they know that they cannot go on being married and living together as things are. If you both want the relationship to continue, you both need to put the effort and time into making it work. Of course, this is a lot harder to do than it sounds, especially if you have young children taking up your time and energy or financial or employment issues, which put an extra layer of stress upon you. You may want to take a look into marriage counseling, as this can help you to work through any issues that you are facing with the helo of a qualified, impartial, and experienced mediator. Be aware that this route can sometimes throw up issues that you did not know existed between you, and unresolved feelings and problems can rear their head. It is important that you go in knowing what to expect from marriage counseling.

Have a Break

You have heard of the saying ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’? Well, for some couples, this can be very much true. If we have been with someone for a long time, we can often feel suffocated and crave some time away. This can cause resentment and problems in the marriage, particularly if one person in the couple has more freedom than the other. Having a short break away from each other, whether it is booking a solo vacation or going to stay with a family member or friends for a couple of weeks, can make the whole world of difference about how you feel about each other. As Chicago said, ‘even lovers need a holiday, far away from each other.’

Make a Plan

If you know that things cannot be made right and that any hope of things improving or a reconciliation is entirely off the cards, then it is time to start making plans. Of course, this is entirely different for every couple, but in most cases, it involves one person moving out of the family home. When this happens, you need to think about what items they are going to take, and this is where it can get messy for some couples. If you are not sure if you can do this without arguments and disagreement, get someone impartial to mediate and help you. 

The person moving out needs somewhere to stay, whether they get a place of their own or they stay with family and friends. They also need to be able to financially support themselves, which needs to be taken into consideration, especially if there are children involved.

Talk to the Children

Assuming you have children, they are one of the most important, if not THE most important thing to think about when it comes to making plans on separation and divorce. First things first, reassure them. It is very common for children to blame themselves for parents splitting up, or to think if their mother or father leaves their other parent, they are also leaving them and that they no longer love them. It is essential to reassure them and explain to them that that is not the case and that two happy parents living apart are much better than two unhappy parents living together.

Make Plans for the Children

Of course, children make divorce and separation a lot more complicated. They have to be provided for – they need a home to live in and to be provided for, and their lives need as little disruption as possible. When you are working out what your next steps are and where you are going to go next, they need to be your first consideration.

Talk to a Lawyer

When you are pretty sure that a divorce is what you want, it is time to get some legal advice. Even if your split is amicable, it is important to know what your legal rights are and where you stand and to make sure everything is done properly, especially if a property or other assets and children are involved.

Talk About It

The end of a marriage or a long-term relationship can be one of the most devastating and stressful times in someone’s life, no matter how amicable it seems to be. If you feel like you are struggling to come to terms with it or move on, do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help and support. It may be from friends and family, your doctor, or a professional such as a therapist.

Take Care of Yourself

Self-care is essential after a divorce or separation. As we said above, they can be almost traumatic, so it is important to look after yourself. Plan something to look forward to, such as the holiday you have always wanted to go on, but your ex-partner did not, or take up a new hobby or class. Use your new-found freedom to live the life that you want to live and begin to move on.

When a marriage or a relationship begins to break down, it is never easy. Taking systematic steps to get the proceedings underway can make the process much easier so that you start to grieve for your relationship and begin to move on.

What additional advice would you add?
Contributed post. Feature image via Pixabay CC0 License.



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