When Your Marriage is Crumbling

a man and a woman sitting on a couch

The vast majority of people who speak wedding vows mean them, including the “until death do us part” stuff. That’s one of many reasons why it can be so devastating to realize that your marriage is in trouble. Once your relationship begins its descent, it’s really hard to reverse the fall and start heading in the right direction again.

The biggest thing you can do is decide just how much fight you have left. Your partner needs to decide that as well. There’s a saying that it takes two people to make a marriage work, but only one person to ruin it. Neglect, indifference, and contempt are poisonous to relationships. Both of you have to care, and both of you will have to really work to make sure that the marriage can be salvaged.

In some cases, marriage counseling is a good option, but only if both partners are fully on board. Be wary of a spouse who says, “Why would I want to pay a stranger to listen to my problems?” Spouses who are resistant to counseling probably think everything is fine. Or if they don’t think everything is fine, they don’t think it’s bad enough to seek professional help. They’re telling you that they’re OK with the way things are right now. If you’re not OK with the status quo, then you’ve got some tough decisions to make.

When you suspect infidelity

Has your spouse been “working late” an awful lot lately? Are they getting text messages from strange numbers? Do they act defensive when you ask who they’re texting? All of these are signs that some sort of cheating may be occurring. It could be an emotional affair or a physical one (although it usually doesn’t take very long for the former to turn into the latter). If your spouse won’t give you answers, it may be time to bring in someone trained at finding answers to uncomfortable questions.

The decision to hire a private investigator shouldn’t be made lightly. It shouldn’t be used as an attempt to control or abuse your partner. But if you’re on the way to divorce and need proof of an affair for whatever reason, a private investigator can provide you with that proof. It may be useful if you’re anticipating a child custody battle, but before you spend a lot of money on a private eye, call a family law attorney. A good attorney will be able to tell you whether or not an investigation would be useful in court. No-fault divorce laws mean many states don’t particularly care if one partner cheated on the other. Thankfully, we’re long past the days when you had to prove that your spouse was cruel or unfaithful before a judge would grant you a divorce. It’s up to you if you want to know for the sake of knowing, but realize it may not get you the leverage you desire in court.

Finally, think of the children. That doesn’t mean you should “stay together for the kids,” though. That’s usually a terrible idea, because the relationship between you and your spouse is going to be the model your kids use for relationships in general. Don’t teach them that marriage has to be full of distrust and anger. But if you’re divorcing your spouse, you should take care to do it as carefully and ethically as possible. Don’t sling mud just for the sake of scoring points. Kids absorb way more than you realize.

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