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Golden rings hanging on ropeThough few couples go into a marriage anticipating that their union will not last, unfortunately, a large percentage of American marriages come to an end. In fact, approximately 40% to 50% of U.S. marriages end in divorce.

Divorce may be common, but it is never easy. Many couples enter divorce with even more trepidation than they entered their marriage, and sometimes, it just isn’t clear whether or not divorce is the right choice.

If you’re struggling with the decision to divorce or continue your marriage, give yourself time to thoroughly evaluate the situation. Before making your choice, try asking yourself the following three questions:

Question 1: Have You Had the Divorce Talk?

Communication is one of the most important pillars of a healthy marriage, so it is likely you’re struggling to share your thoughts and feelings with your partner if you’re considering divorce. Nonetheless, if you’ve been able to have a civil conversation with your partner about divorce, consider holding off the paperwork. While some partnerships use threats of divorce as a tool to express emotions or to manipulate, if you and your partner have been able to speak calmly about divorce, marriage counseling could be a viable option. You might be able to use those communication skills to talk about what is underlying your desire to separate, and you could be able to mend the relationship. Premarital counseling has been shown to reduce divorce likelihood by 50%, and any counseling, in general, will do more good than harm.

Question 2: What Exactly Is Making You Want to End the Marriage?

Some relationships are pushed towards their end by obvious contributing factors. For example, domestic violence, drug abuse, and alcoholism are common justifications for separation. Additionally, couples therapists report that 50% of their caseload is due to infidelity. However, not all breakups are so cut-and-dry. If you cannot pinpoint exactly why you want a divorce, spend some time figuring out exact reasons you want to end your marriage. Consider making a list of habits and events that seem significant enough to be deal breakers. Only you can decide what you want, but seeking clarity through journaling and contemplation can make your choice a little easier.

Question 3: Are the Consequences of Divorce Going to Be More Unpleasant Than the Consequences of Staying Married?

While those who are not married or who do not live together can separate with relatively little effort, divorce takes a significant amount of time and money. Many individuals experience financial hardship after a divorce, as well as uncomfortable reactions from friends and family. Divorce may be the best choice for your scenario, but remember that some unpleasant consequences are unavoidable. If you suspect that those consequences will outweigh the unhappiness you feel right now in your marriage, consider seeking therapy or other ways to improve your marriage if your partner is willing to cooperate. In some cases, relationships improve with patience and time, and the heartache of divorce can be avoided.

Deciding to divorce may be one of the toughest decisions of your life. Unfortunately, divorce almost always results in sadness, confusion, and sometimes anger. Try asking these three questions for greater clarity, so that you can make the best decision for yourself, your family, and your future.