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Contemplating Divorce: Whether to Stay or Go. (Part I)

By Susan Pease Gadoua, LCSW (Social Worker)

I want to start off this entry with stating strongly I am in favor of helping couples stay together whether they are marriages or committed relationships. My hope is that folks can get past their difficulties and learn how to rebuild their connection.  Unfortunately, there are some circumstances where things have gone too far in the wrong direction and the option of divorce (whether formally in the case of a marriage or situationally in the case of a committed relationship) is necessary.  Also sometime folks who are very frustrated in their relationship, may out of desperation, threaten divorce or leaving their partner.

Having started with my disclaimer, if divorce is a possibility, it is important to understand what is involved in the process and if necessary what to do if that is the choice that needs to be made.

In her book “Contemplating Divorce” Ms. Gadoua starts appropriately with the process of thinking about divorce. She starts with the “Pre Contemplation Stage” where folks are realizing that they are unhappy and vaguely thinking about the possibility of leaving their partner.

The author talks about how to constructively deal with that stage and how Pre Contemplation can evolve to her next stage of “Contemplation”.

In the “Contemplation” stage the person is seriously thinking about not being in the relationship.

Ms. Whether identifies what she intelligently calls “The Marriage Indecision Cycle” She then goes on to talk about how to handle that cycle.  The author gives exercises and examples through out the book to guide the reader into deciding what their next step should be.

Ms. Whether though out this section relates what can and should be done to try and save the relationship.  Clearly her goal is not to help people get divorced but to help them to think through their decision and those decisions’ implications and action steps.

The book also talks about the Grief Progression.  This Progression helps the reader understand the various emotions involved in the different stages of this process.

For example there are discussions about feelings of loss, “self protest” (why you should stay) as well feelings of despair and detachment.

Ms. Whether’s position first is you should work at understanding and changing your relationship and only after you have really tried using guidelines she offers, then it is time seriously consider the option of ending the relationship.

In my next blog I will talk about:

  • What Ms. Whether suggestions about how to effectively handle  emotions;
  • How to gain deeper understanding about your relationship and things that can be done to deal with unresolved issues.






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