Leaving a bad marriage is not easy so if you’ve decided you want a better life and are putting an end to a toxic marriage, bravo! Recognizing that you’re in a bad situation is hard enough but then respecting and loving yourself enough to say you’re truly done is daunting but doable if you are truly ready to leave.
Here are 5 steps to take when leaving a bad marriage:
Can you afford therapy? If you’re leaving a bad marriage, you will need support and to work through the issues that have built up during the marriage. Another great reason to try therapy? When leaving a bad marriage, you may be tempted many times to go back to your ex and a therapist can support you on your journey towards a healthy you and either rebuilding a healthier marriage or, a healthier life ahead outside of the marriage. Many therapists will work on a sliding scale and if you cannot afford it, try speaking to someone you trust like a pastor or rabbi, etc.
Are you working or, are you a stay-at-home parent? If you aren’t, will you need to support yourself? Most likely the answer is yes so start applying to jobs, even if you find something that’s simply right for the meantime. Any bit of money earned is a step towards your independence, which is crucial when leaving a bad marriage.
If you’re already working and you are the breadwinner of the family, stop and consider how divorce will impact your earnings. Speak to a local attorney and find out your state’s laws on child support and spousal support.
Let’s also not forget any debt you and your soon-to-be-ex may have. Are you prepared for how that could be divided during a divorce? Important things to consider.
More financial factors:
- Do you have a bank account in your name only? If not, open one. What about a credit card? Open one as well.
- If you’re a stay-at-home parent, can you brush up your resume because you will need to work after divorce? And can you find family or loved ones to help with childcare when you return to work?
3. See a Lawyer
If you are determined to divorce and your spouse isn’t willing to use a mediator, which is a more affordable option than a litigated divorce. Most lawyers will do free consults and will give you a decent idea of what you are heading into financially and if you have children, with regards to custody. It never hurts to be prepared and no: don’t tell your partner you’re consulting with a lawyer!
4. Line Up the Troops
If you have kids, start lining up support now. It is hard being a single parent so having family and/or friends, who will help you and your kids through the transition, especially if it’s an ugly toxic marriage, will be immeasurable. Some family may have a hard time agreeing with your situation even if the marriage is that bad, so tell family members you can count on to be helpful on this journey.
5. Mantras/ Stress Outlets
Ending a marriage whether it was a good or bad marriage is emotionally taxing. Start finding ways to decompress whether it’s through meditation, yoga, reading, weekly meet-ups with a friend for a beer, coffee, a football game, or a manicure, or going for a run.
Even more pressing, start to work on your way of thinking and how you view yourself and your ability to handle divorce stress. Daily positive mantras such as: “I deserve a better life” or “This will get better” or “I am whole on my own” are good ways to mentally train yourself to want better for yourself and help you through the dark periods of separation and divorce.
The bottom line? You deserve to be happy and if your bad marriage is not fixable, don’t feel bad about walking away.