You might feel like you’re living in limbo in your marriage.  Maybe you feel that while the marriage is not good, it’s not quite bad enough to divorce.  You just don’t know how to move forward.

It seems you’ve come to a crossroads in your marriage.  You don’t know whether to divorce or stay married.  And if you decide to stay married, how can you move forward?

Here are 5 things I’ve learned over the course of more than 20 years of marriage and as a divorce lawyer that can help forge a path forward:

1.       Accept what is.

It’s often said that we first have to accept something before we can change it.  It is easy to deny there’s a problem.  But denying it will typically only force each of you to go it alone.

While it might not be easy to accept there are problems in the marriage, accepting allows you to focus on what might have gone wrong.   And that’s when you can start to change things.

2.        Remember the beginning.

When a marriage is in trouble, remembering what you once loved about your spouse can help you decide how to move forward.   Here are more questions you might ask yourself to help the decision become clearer:

  • Before you were married, what did you admire most about your spouse?
  • Did you make each other laugh?
  • Were you both excited to get married?
  • Did you actively plan your future together?  Did you talk about having kids, where you might live?
  • How did your spouse propose?

On the other hand, the way the marriage came about can be very telling.  For instance, perhaps you got married believing the other person would change, that maybe he or she would become more responsible or committed to the relationship.

Perhaps you believed you would change for the better if you got married.  Or maybe you decided to get married because you’d been dating a while and marriage seemed the next logical step.

Remembering the beginning and asking yourself these questions can lead to greater clarity about how to move forward.

3.       Put the shoe on the other foot.

Recognize there are two of you in the marriage.  Chances are your spouse feels he or she is right too.  Perhaps you can understand why he or she might feel or act the way they do.

You might ask and listen to how your spouse views things.  This doesn’t mean you have to agree.  Everyone sees things differently.  You have a story. Your spouse has a story. Listen to their story as an outside observer with complete curiosity.  Focus on the emotions you hear behind the words.  Imagine just trying to learn where they are coming from.

4       Commit to what matters.

If you have kids, recognize that no matter what happens, you will continue to raise them together and share in their life experiences.  So, when you start aligning your actions with a commitment to success as co-parents, things can change.

5        Take responsibility.

Responsibility is not the same as blame.  It’s when you take ownership of what you see as your part and how things came to be.   Often, the biggest turning point is when we begin to understand our own role in what happened.  Taking responsibility is realizing that everything that is or will be is up to you.

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