Nobody enters into marriage with the expectation that it will end in divorce.

Love makes optimists of us all, so it can be very difficult to face the possibility that, despite all efforts, a relationship has become unsalvageable.

Due to a growing trend for couples to marry later, Australia is rather fortunate when it comes to successful marriages in comparison to the rest of the Western world.  This delay to wed is resulting in declining divorce rates.  Still by the age of 53, one in four Australian women will be separated or divorced.

Making the decision to strike out on your own can be daunting, especially later in life.  Not only socially fraught, it can be emotionally and financially draining.

According to Melbourne based family lawyer, Marguerite Picard it doesn’t need to be this way.  It is possible to navigate the labyrinth of issues involved through mediation and mutual agreement.  This is of particular importance when young children are involved.

Many people on the brink of separation are unsure where their futures lay–stay in an unworkable marriage or leave to begin again–facing an unfamiliar existence.

Whilst every marriage and relationship is different, let’s examine a few scenarios which affect couples and may be a sign that divorce is imminen

Lack of intimacy

Intimacy, including sexual intimacy, can be a barometer for how a relationship is tracking.  Often a withdrawal from sex coincides with emotional disengagement.  For some couples, this is not a deal breaker but for many, this loss of intimacy can be traumatic.

Consultation with a professional couples counsellor can be the first step to understanding and addressing any underlying issues.

Left unchecked, this emotional detachment may ultimately lead to one or both partners seeking this intimacy elsewhere.

Withdrawal of affection

Whilst marriage breakdown doesn’t happen overnight, many people find themselves not seeing the signs until it is too late.  Suddenly they find themselves ‘not in love anymore’, without understanding the process which led them to that point.

Often the lead up to this may be a transfer of affection or infidelity.  By this time, counseling is often a step too late and the marriage has crossed over the point of no return.  Once this has occurred it can still be of benefit to each partner to receive counseling to provide a support to transitioning to single life.

Conflicting emotions

Noted researcher John Gotman suggests that it is not a lack of communication, which leads to marriage breakdown but rather a lack of effective conflict resolution. Many consider arguments as battles to be won through intimidation or bullying.  Alternatively, the other party may withdraw emotionally to avoid the conflict.

Early intervention using professional guidance can assist couples to learn ways of dealing with conflict to avoid further erosion of the relationship.

A word on children

No matter what issues a couple are experiencing within their marriage, priority must be given to ensuring the path to divorce is made easy for their children. If there is any violence in the home, the issue becomes non-negotiable and separation is a priority.  Whilst mediation and counseling may save a marriage which has experienced violence, this needs to be from a safe, neutral position.

For those considering separation or divorce–ask yourself where you want to be in five years time. If the answer is a resounding one and if you have tried to resolve the marriage’s problems but find them insurmountable, then divorce may be the next step.

Whatever decision you make, your first step should be to arrange a consultation with a caring and professional family lawyer. They can provide guidance and assistance along with the ability to connect you to a range of professional services including psychologists and counselors.

When considering divorce it is worth remembering, where there is love in a marriage, there is hope.  The decision ultimately is in your hands.

Best of luck!