“Should I Get a Divorce?” Use This Checklist

Which words would you use to describe your marriage?  Happiness, harmony, laughter? Or frustration, irritation, anger, endless arguments?

If you disagree with your spouse, can the two of you talk the matter over and come to a solution, or does it result in an argument or fight? Perhaps it’s even in front of the children; something you vowed you would never do? And if you’re having these sorts of problems, has getting a divorce ever crossed your mind, especially because you’ve read that that would ultimately be better for the kids.

Well, I can be quite clear about that: “No, it won’t!”

I was a divorce mediator before I began saving marriages. To my surprise, I noticed that most people were not at all prepared when they came to see me.

Many hadn’t even considered what their life would look like during or after the divorce. In fact, they often even didn’t know if their marriage was truly “over”. Usually, they just believed their therapist who had told them that their marriage couldn’t be saved.

Divorce is far more complicated than most people realize, thanks to the divorce industry that makes billions from divorce. 95% of the time, it is not the escape most people imagine it to be. “Jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire,” would be a better description of what really happens.

If you are considering divorce, then now is not the time to be impulsive. At this stage, it is of the utmost importance that you carefully consider all of your options and check all the facts before you act.

In this article, I’ve laid out the most pressing and relevant questions one should consider before getting a divorce, and I’ve separated them into 6 sections:

  1. Finances
  2. Your children
  3. Yourselves
  4. Relationships after divorce
  5. Your social life
  6. Finally, if not most importantly: Is your marriage recoverable?

Carefully consider each question I pose, as it will help you decide what your next move should be.

If you seek other opinions, be sure to find someone impartial who won’t have the opportunity to make money from you; divorce lawyers or therapists will naturally want you to become their client.

One mostly neutral resource I’m aware of is the Second Saturday divorce support group. I used to speak there to offer an alternative to divorce and I found the professionals they invite to be caring and forthcoming. It’s a good organization that offers live one-day seminars which will provide you with practical and current information.

They don’t advocate saving marriages, which is what I do, but if you must divorce, they will tell you the truth when it comes to many important laws and the typical ways the courts handle divorce. They are a better resource than the courts themselves.

My hope, though, is that you will not need to get a divorce at all, but we will see. Many people think their marriage is not repairable because of something they heard someone say, or because their hurt feelings are speaking louder than their reason.

The vast majority of “reasons” for a divorce will most likely turn out to be fixable symptoms. As you work through this checklist, perhaps you will decide that fixing your marriage is a better path for you than getting a divorce.

Now get a pen and paper to take some notes and let’s get to the checklist.

1. Finances

No matter how you do it, a divorce is not cheap. It always costs more than you thought it would. It will turn your financial life painfully upside down regardless of how much or how little money you have and it will affect you for many years.

Are You Prepared To Pay For A Divorce?

Although it’s impossible to budget a hard number, these scenarios will help you get a feel for what’s coming. Consider where you fit into these scenarios:

If your combined income is around $100,000, one or both of you will pay between $30,000-60,000 for both lawyers, if you go to court. If you can avoid court battles you will save a lot of pain and money.

If you and your spouse can get along it is possible to use a divorce mediator for “only” $5,000-10,000.

If you have little or no assets, you can probably have a do-it-yourself divorce for the cost of filing fees, which is typically between $500-1,000, plus another $200 for ancillary costs such as serving your spouse. There are also divorce help businesses you can find on-line that can help you for a reasonable cost unless your case is complicated.

If you’re earning far above $100k, the determining factors will come down to how much you and your spouse decide to litigate.

For a much more thorough breakdown of costs, read my article, The Average Divorce Costs Over $30k.

Do You Have A Job Or Are You A Stay-At-Home Parent?

If you’ve been a stay-at-home parent who has been out of the workforce for many years, you may have difficulty breaking back into your industry. That will give rise to the following questions:

Will you have enough money for necessities? You will now have to shoulder the costs for cable, utilities, deposits for both, higher insurance rates, higher taxes, moving expenses, house supplies like towels, silverware, cookware, etc. And don’t forget your children will now need items at both homes.

The amount of money you spend on food will also be higher as you’ll probably be eating out more.

What Will Happen To Your Assets?

Do you have cars, cash, retirement accounts, a house, or investments? Who will get what? I think if most people did a rough thumbnail budget on a napkin, half of all divorcees would stay together. Most people don’t think about the costs, but they are all too real.

If you currently own a house, the most common scenario is that you’ll end up selling it because neither of you can afford it post-divorce. Both of you will probably move into lower-end apartments, regardless of who has the children.

If you own a business, litigation could/will negatively impact your business, customers, and employees.

Over 50% of divorces create poverty!

Have You Thought About Child Support and/or Alimony?

Most people already live paycheck to paycheck when supporting only one household, and now the same income will have to be stretched to support two households.

Ladies, don’t expect to be able to rely on child support and/or alimony, even if it has been awarded to you. Most people think their financial life won’t change much, but what you don’t realize is that if you’re barely making it now then the struggle will increase in unimaginable ways after the divorce.

Thank God most states are very serious about ex-husbands keeping up with child support, but some men take off and don’t care, preferring jail over what they think is unfair treatment. Women are not getting as much alimony as they used to anyway, because courts are moving more towards gender-neutral decisions. So, even though it’s usually only awarded when there are children, there are lots of caveats and it is never enough to maintain the lifestyle you’ve been used to.

For higher-earning couples, you may be in a situation where you are the one paying alimony and child support, which will be a significant part of your income. Generally speaking, the courts award a greater share of the money to whoever has the children.

Final Thoughts On Financial Concerns:

When I was a divorce mediator, countless women thought they could get a divorce, keep the house, keep the children, and live off alimony and child support paid for by their ex-husband, easy peasy. This was a pipe dream. What actually happens to most couples is that they have to sell their house, get cheap apartments, and sink into poverty, fighting the reality of not having enough money. Please don’t let this happen to you. If you must get a divorce, plan very carefully what your financial situation will look like and make changes before you are forced to.

2. Your Children

Have You Thought About The Logistics Of Caring For Your Children?

Although your children are dependent on you, their parents, they also lead a life of their own that you are currently supporting in many ways. The logistical challenges will dramatically INCREASE after divorce.

Who will get custody? Where will they live? Who will take them to school?

Who will take them to and pay for after-school activities?

How and when will they see the visiting parent? What if one parent moves out of the city, state or country? So many broken promises and missed visits. Divorce is very hard on your kids. It is downplayed, but make no mistake about how hard it is on children.

Will Your Children Be Psychologically Okay After Divorce?

Children pay the highest price for their parents’ divorce. Regardless of what many psychologists say to make you feel less guilty, your children are NEVER better off in a single parent home with “less tension”. All children are irreversibly harmed when their parents split up.

Divorce creates a great amount of insecurity in your children. They will feel neglected. They don’t “adjust”, they only adapt. They will suffer, period.

They watch their mom and dad become enemies, especially when fighting through the court system or when they bad-mouth each other. You two were more than just a support system. You were their air and water. They never had to think or worry about anything because of you. Now all of that changes.

Neither of you will be the “go to” person for them because they can no longer trust you. Look at how you treated their mother or father. Could you do that to them? Would you trust you?

Your kids will change for the worse. They often start to lie and tell you what you want to hear because they don’t want to be abandoned as you did their other parent.

Have You Considered All The Long Term Impacts Of Divorce On Your Kids?

This is a deep topic that I describe in detail in my article, The Effects Of Divorce On Children but the short answer is that a large number of them turn to drugs, alcohol, crime, and/or drop out of school. 80% of attempted suicides are people from broken homes. Please read the article.

Final Thoughts On Children’s Concerns: 

Parents who refuse to divorce ‘for the sake of their children’ are true heroes. It is the right choice. However, even better is to turn your efforts into the positive effort of fixing the core of your marriage and turning it into a hive of happiness. That way there are no losers. Everyone wins.

3. Yourselves

Because of how divorce is often portrayed in movies and television (but not when we look at the actors’ real lives), most couples imagine they will get along better after a divorce; the truth is they don’t. I’ve worked with many Hollywood types so trust me when I say that it is not like it is in movies. Let’s take a closer look.

Are You Psychologically Prepared For Divorce?

Your decision to marry was, and remains, one of the most important decisions of your life. Has that ever occurred to you? The psychological impact of failing at one of the greatest endeavors of your life will stick with you forever.

Divorce is considered by nearly every professional to be the worst possible catastrophe one encounters in life, second only to losing a child.

There is never a return to “normal”, especially if it is your first marriage. The effects of divorce are similar to PTSD. Even for divorcees who can afford the time and/or money for therapy or coaching, it still takes years before they feel any sense of “normal” again.

These are common effects of divorce:

  • Inability or greater difficulty opening your heart – This is by far the worst thing that happens because you essentially ARE your heart, also known as a soul.
  • A sense of self-loathing – Deserved or not, self-loathing is common.
  • Lack of self-confidence – Human beings are designed to progress. Fear is crippling. This failure is not like any other. It is huge in scope and complexity.
  • Becoming risk-averse – You will be overly cautious.
  • Depression – It’s a natural defense and almost impossible to avoid.
  • Mistrust of others, especially the opposite gender – This is due to misunderstanding the other gender, which is part of what caused the marital problems in the first place.
  • Hiding – Though rarely mentioned, nearly everyone “hides” in one form or another.

If you are one of the few for whom divorce is the only realistic answer, then that still won’t save you from all the problems mentioned above. But I believe over 90% of marriages on the verge of divorce can still be saved. It may not be “easy,” but it will definitely be much easier than divorce!

What Happens With The Loss Of Friendship Between You And Your Spouse?

Stories of ongoing friendships after a divorce are commonplace in the movies, but the reality is that this is quite rare. Betrayal is hard to swallow for the betrayed. Forgiveness comes only years later, if at all.

You married your best friend and then betrayed each other. Some delude themselves into thinking they were the only one who was betrayed, but that is silly. The layers of swallowed issues will grow even though they are buried.

“Doing something” about growing problems starts with learning how to behave and communicate, then you can reconnect with love, forgiveness and improved marital skills. Your idea for a divorce was literally caused by a lack of marriage skills. If you had you the right tools and knowledge, your marriage never would have fallen from the place of love from which it began. You can see that right? It should be self-evident. A skilled communicator can work with both good and poor communicators. A person with marriage skills can manage and enjoy marriage with a less skilled partner.

How Will You Cope With Years Of Dishevelment?

Divorce will destabilize your life, psychologically and materially. The resulting instability does not improve, even when your new lives create new experiences. Divorce is like dropping a bomb on your family. It is 100% destructive.

The “new life” you try to build is being laid upon the foundation of the quicksand of your past mistakes. Your family cannot be “re-built”. You’ll patch your individual lives back together again with duct tape and paperclips. These aren’t just trite analogies. This is what it’s like for most people.

Do You Have Time To Go Through A Divorce?

This may seem like a strange question, but your life is going to be put on a hard hold for a while. The process will take many months, maybe years. Divorce proceedings will be all-consuming of your time, finances, emotions and mind. Currently, there are two people who earn money and look after the house and kids. After the divorce, you will have to do it all on your own. Free time becomes non-existent.

Final Thoughts On Your Concerns:

The people who must divorce are just as bad off as those for whom it is only an option, but at least they can truly say “I have tried EVERYTHING”. Most who say this have really only read a few articles, maybe a book, or perhaps they even went to couple’s counseling or weekend retreats that were all ineffective. None of that will work when the going gets rough.

Hardly anyone is able to catch the break-down of their marriage in a timely manner. The best strategy is to stop the train and learn a correct approach to managing your marriage, and then make it count. Such an approach should be clear and logical to you and spell out specific results that you will gain from specific actions that will systematically lead back to marital harmony. If you have not used that as criteria, then you have not “tried everything”.

4. Romantic Relationships After Divorce

Are You Prepared To Re-Enter The Dating Scene?

After a divorce, women generally have a tougher time in this department than men. Typically, less than 30% of women remarry, while 85% of men do.  But that does not mean it’s easy for men, either. It is just that men tend to settle for a lower caliber partner more easily…at least at first.

The success rate for second marriages is dismal. The failure rate is much higher than for first marriages, which is already over 50%.

Regardless of gender or statistics, entering the dating scene as a middle-aged person who’s been off the market for years is no fun and only compounds the negative psychological effects described above. It can be done, but you’ll have to learn how to date all over again, and you won’t have your youthful attractiveness to offer potential mates. I am not being shallow, this is reality! It’s more honest than articles on dating that are designed to get you to buy magazines.

Are You Mentally Prepared For A Potential Future By Yourself?

The reality is that if you divorce, you will likely have a string of unsuccessful relationships and subsequent failed marriages. Do you believe that won’t happen to you? Why not? What have you learned from your mistakes?

Many who go through a divorce now think they have learned the “key” to marriage, but when asked they either can’t define it, or it’s baseless. Many divorce thinking their spouse is the problem, being a narcissist or angry and negative all the time. Even if your spouse is truly 100% of the problem, which is very rare, why did you pick them? How will you avoid picking someone similar? It’s very common for people to pick a new partner almost exactly like their previous spouse. Sometimes they even look similar or have the same name!

People repeat the exact same mistakes in future relationships because they do not see or understand:

  • The differences in the opposite gender
  • Their own correctable flaws and how to correct them
  • Unconditional love and how to manifest it in marriage
  • Their habits that need to change and how to change them
  • Instinctive reactions and how to contain them

Divorce almost always means a future by yourself, or with an unsuitable partner you tolerate just so that you’re not alone.

How Will Your Children Impact Your Dating Life?

Obviously, children are a factor in attracting dates, and also require planning for babysitters and bedtimes. But a bigger concern is that you have to allocate time to dating that should be spent with your kids. Everyone is torn with guilt and rarely able to achieve a balance.

Final Thoughts On Romantic Relationships After Divorce:

Movies and television paint a false picture. Ask your divorced friends! You will adjust, of course, you have no choice, and everyone will adjust differently. But when I tell you that it is far easier to fix your marriage than get a divorce, it is because I have seen both sides. I’ve helped too many people get a divorce, and now I help people find happiness starting right from where they are. There is no comparison. Don’t wait for 20/20 hindsight to convince you. Trust someone who knows.

5. Your Friends, Social Life, And Holidays

This area of your life is different based on gender. For women, your social and family life generally continues unhindered. Men tend to be outcast from their old social life and will need to build a new one.

Have You Checked In With Your Friends?

Women: Your friends will generally support you based upon the decision they think you’ve already made. They won’t necessarily give you beneficial advice. You are not going to take it anyway, so why should they ruin a friendship?

Men: If you complain your friends might listen for all of 10 seconds, but generally, guys will distance themselves from the topic or crack jokes.

I don’t recommend checking in with your friends at all for men or women. It’s your marriage and no one really knows what’s going on inside it. Any advice you get will be based only on what you tell someone. It is better to do tons of research instead.

Which Of Your Friends Will Stick With You?

For men, your “couples” friends, who you double-dated, or went on vacations with, will generally stick with your ex-wife, to please their own wife. If you’ve been married a while, most of your pre-marriage friends will have moved on or gotten married themselves. You will be very vulnerable.

Where Will You Go For Holidays And Family Gatherings?

Men, you’ll often find your greater family centering around your ex-wife and children. You might feel excluded and end up spending many of your holidays in Vegas.

Final Thoughts On Your Social Life:

Even considering everything that is going on in both of your personal lives, it will be watching your children trying to cope that will cause you the most heartache.

6. Is Your Marriage Recoverable?

To me, this is the MOST important question and you should not try to answer it yourself! You are welcome to ask our counselors and we will tell you the truth. There is no cost and no obligation to write in.

Some marriages cannot be saved, but far fewer than most people think. The reason for the ignorance in this area is that, and I will be candid, society has left it to the psychological profession to be the marital problem solvers. But, by definition, psychology is only a small part of the marital framework. Of course, marriage has a psychological component, but that is rarely where marriages break down. Think about it.

Marriage has a psychological component, but that is a very individual part of your own interface with your marriage. You do not share a mind with anyone; your mind is yours alone.

Marriage is primarily based on love, which is not a creation of man, so has to be understood spiritually, not necessarily religiously, as religion is mostly about morality. The spirituality of marriage needs to be understood. Psychologists have no clue in this area.

Then there is communication, sex, intimacy, and other components that are simply above the paygrade of psychologists. So when they say they cannot help a marriage, they are telling the truth, they cannot help. But that doesn’t mean no one else can’t, or that the marriage is over. The marriage isn’t over until the individual or couple agrees it is.

There are cases that make marriage-recovery nearly impossible:

Are You Or Your Spouse On Drugs, Alcohol, or Psychotropic medicines?

It is possible to recover a marriage in this situation, but it is very difficult. The negative psychological influences of these substances make it an uphill battle. These don’t cause divorce by themselves, but they make it impossible to open your heart. You will have to work much harder to overcome both the current marital challenges and the psychological effects of chemical substances.

You must be guided by your own moral convictions of course, but drugs, alcohol, etc will hurt your chances to such an extent that I would not see clients if they were a big factor of the problem. A little marijuana (less than monthly) or a little beer or wine (not as big a deal, even if it is daily) are not what I’m talking about.

Have You Discovered Something Dangerous About Your Spouse?

If you are in any of the following situations you should end the marriage, except where otherwise noted.

Is your spouse a pedophile? 

Pedophilia is a disease we do not know how to cure. You may feel sorry for that person, but you need to end the marriage.

Is your spouse part of a criminal organization?

Criminal “life” is dangerous. Neither you nor your children are safe. Forget what you see in movies and on TV. Criminals by definition are dangerous.

Is your spouse a violent alcoholic or drug addict? 

Unlike the question of alcohol and drugs above, this one focuses on the violent aspect. You have an obligation to keep your children away from actual danger. Sometimes a violent addict recovers, so try to leave the door open.

Is your spouse physically violent and refuses to effectively deal with it?

There are degrees of “violence”. You need to carefully evaluate your situation, but again it is important to keep your children out of harm’s way.

Does your husband have another family? 

This never gets better for you and your children. There is no possible good outcome.

Is your spouse in a cult and forcing it on your children? 

Cults are dangerous. They are a “drug” of sorts. Cultists don’t change.

Is Your Spouse Having An Affair?

Infidelity is one of the most common “reasons” people get a divorce, but should truly be seen as a symptom of underlying marriage problems that need to be addressed. People with great marriages don’t cheat, so don’t think if you are being cheated on that you are innocent. Your marriage problems existed long before the infidelity.

Cheating is immoral, but the world has lowered the bar on that consideration considerably. Men use porn and extracurricular sex to escape from a marriage that was already bad, to begin with. In no way would any normal person say it is okay to cheat, but neither is it okay to end your marriage because of it. That just excuses the real problems you both participated in.

This situation is sometimes recoverable, and can even turn into a great marriage. The determining factors are different depending on gender:

Men: If your wife is having an affair, it’s usually the end of your marriage no matter what you do. I use the word “usually” because, in all my years, I’ve only heard of one marriage being saved when the wife was having an actual affair. When women stray, they usually do so with their hearts, and there are two parts to this. On the one hand, she broke the bond that kept her your wife. On the other hand, she gave her heart to another man. VERY few women have sexual flings or multiple partners.

WomenWhen men are unfaithful it’s RARELY over!

Husbands will still come back from affairs, even after they have moved in with a girlfriend. Whether or not you can move past the hurt and forgive them is a big challenge, which I fully understand and discuss in other articles. But be assured that this situation is recoverable. Infidelity was only the most visible symptom of problems that had been plaguing your marriage for years. If you fix those problems, the infidelity won’t be an issue any longer. It will go away forever.

Are You Currently Separated?

Believe it or not, this is not the end of your marriage. As long as you have an opportunity to meet with your spouse on occasion, recovery is likely. Rebuilding a marriage in this situation is not a rare occurrence for us, as long as the wife is willing to work to make it happen due to the dynamics between the genders.

That does not mean dragging your spouse to a counseling session and having them fix their problems. That means broadly addressing your marriage’s health, starting with stabilizing it. You need to become a changed and improved person, probably similar to the person you were when you were first started dating. This is the only chance you have at attracting them back if they have already left – and we do it all the time.

Final Thoughts On If Your Marriage Is Recoverable:

Most marriages can and should be saved.

If your marriage can be saved, fighting for your marriage does NOT mean fighting the divorce itself. Like infidelity, the divorce is not the problem; it’s the symptom. It is not the thing that is killing your marriage.

Your marriage is dysfunctional due to your and your spouse’s behaviors; both of you, which was caused by incorrect (uneducated) thinking on both your parts. This does not mean morally wrong, but rather behavior and thoughts that are destructive to a marriage.

Saving your marriage is still possible, even if you have already begun divorce proceedings.

You may think you have “tried everything,” or have been to many traditional counselors. But so far you’ve only tried things that statistically don’t work. Less than 10% of people who see a traditional counselor stay together long term. Knowing that, why would anyone go to one? Don’t be discouraged by it, there is too much at stake.

Saving your marriage is not accomplished just by making any random effort. It is only possible with the “right” effort.

You won’t find success without making a sufficient change in yourself, an evolution of consciousness that is sufficient to attract your husband back into your life or your wife back into your heart. That is the very first step. Trust me on this. This discovery of where to begin the process of saving a marriage raised my success rate to over 90%. While most therapists start with the problems, I begin with your individual thinking.

I mentioned at the start of the article that I was a divorce mediator, then became a marriage saver. This transition occurred after I saw over and over again, the same fixable reasons people were getting a divorce. I eventually systematized all of my knowledge so that anyone could follow it on their own to save their marriages. People were even able to save their marriages alone, even when their spouse wasn’t interested at first.

We do not just give you marriage tips, or how to “convince” (trick) your spouse into thinking you are a different person, or that it was just a “mistake” and you should get back together. That kind of “help” is more harmful than beneficial.

Our system gives you an opportunity to re-evaluate your habitual thinking and make real and permanent changes. You will learn how to create new habits that will make you into the person you want to be, and a person your spouse wants to be with again.

Before spending thousands of dollars and several months turning your life upside down by going through a divorce, please consider my program. I’ve produced a 45-minute video (YouTube) you can watch where you’ll get to meet me as I describe how my system works.

You can do this! You can be happy again. But don’t just find random resources looking for tips here and there. That’s not how any real education works in any field. You need to take your marital education seriously. My program is structured and proven to work. I will show you how to gain control over your thoughts and emotions. You will need to put in the effort, but you will quickly see all the mistakes you made in the past, and that your current marriage is the most incredible opportunity for joy and happiness.

With divorce on the table or even pending, you are in a situation where you must act quickly. Please read the articles and watch the video linked above. If you are interested, you can read about my 12-week marriage-saving system here.

The process of recovering your marriage is simple. It may not be easy, but my system is very successful when taken seriously.

I hope you’ll take all of my experience to heart and that you’ll learn from the mistakes of others so that you don’t have to go through them yourself. I want only the best for you.

Paul Friedman
Paul Friedman
Founder, The Marriage Foundation
Paul devised an entirely new approach to marriage that empowers individuals to finally understand and cultivate expanding happiness and love in their marriages.

He has written two books, produced several video educational programs, regularly speaks on marriage, and founded The Marriage Foundation as a non-profit organization.

Our mission is to end divorce by spreading Paul's revolutionary marriage system around the world. We have helped thousands of individuals and couples for nearly 20 years and in over 45 countries.

32 thoughts on ““Should I Get a Divorce?” Use This Checklist

  1. jason J Reply

    Is having an affair and losing total trust a sufficient grounds to get a divorce. How can you continue with someone that is cheating

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      Hi Jason,
      The most simple answer is that if you want a divorce than anything is “grounds” because we all have free will, and the laws of the land back that up.

      But the best approach is to step back and gain some objectivity. Nobody but you and your wife can ultimately answer if divorce is the right way to go.

      We discourage divorce when there are children involved, but it is because we know how hard it is on children who are in the family.
      We also discourage using your children as leverage to use on your wife, but you should instead do all you can to be an amazing husband.

      In other words, use your concern for your children to work on your own part in the marriage, and hopefully your wife will come around when she sees how much better a man you are towards her.

    • David Reply


      I stumbled on this article while doing my own research, and given your question, I have a few comments. First all, my name is not David (sorry, but protecting my anonymity). I wanted to be honest rather than starting this whole reply with a lie.

      1. I wholeheartedly agree with Paul’s response, that it is ultimately up to you and your spouse to determine what necessitates divorce.

      2. Having said that, I had multiple affairs and indiscretions before I finally woke up and understood just what I was doing. We have two children, and I was lucky enough that my wife had enough compassion to see through the tough times, but she also had lost complete trust in me for a time, and still to this day brings it up (but doesn’t throw it in my face) during difficult times.

      We still struggle with it. With the CHOICES I made (not mistakes – choices) – every. single. day.

      My point is this – if the affair produces a better marriage by way of more insight into what to or what not to do, then it MAY be worth it (although, again, only you can decide that). If, however, the ‘offender’ continues the affair, refuses to go no contact, has additional affairs, shows zero remorse, etc., then I can’t see that being a lasting or happy marriage – not to mention a healthy example for children.

      3. Finally, Paul is once again correct. Children complicate things, in a good way and sometimes in bad ways. The question you need to ask yourself (and, again, only you can answer) is are your children in a happy and well cared for environment? Or are they in danger of not only being hurt, but emotionally stunted by being shown what a relationship shouldn’t be, rather than what it should.

      Lots of questions to ponder, but divorce is not a small thing to consider, so it should be complicated.

      I wish you the best of luck.

      • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

        Dear David
        The common ideas of children not doing well in “tense” homes are based on far too many speculations about degrees of tension, how the children are affected,and what may come afterwards if you separate. When you cut through all the speculation, and consider that each parent has free will to improve, or demolish, the marriage, and thus the children’s environment, it is clear that the challenge you have most control over is the one you should tackle. In other words, put aside your fears, accept the results of your past actions (which will slowly diminish if you change your behaviors) and focus on making your marital relationship solid, according to our teachings (I know our’s work) so your children will be safe in a loving home.

        I want to add that your unfaithfulness is in the past, so you have to learn methods for curtailing your wanderlust or they will come back. By all means, if you cannot afford our course, at least read Breaking The Cycle, so you can stop banging into walls you do not see. Let us help you!

  2. John Reply


    If my wife doesnt like my mother and makes me to choose between her and my mother, what do i do. She wants to write-off my mother in our family and I cannot compromise that because I love my mother and my family. We have two kids and this will affect my children in future. I totally cannot disown my own mother for her sake. Please advice.

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      Dear John
      One fruit on a tree can indicate a problem with the tree itself. Your marriage is not altogether functioning or this topic would never be one that needs discussion. Please work on creating your marriage into a joyful place.Then, watch how these kinds of issues dissolve.

  3. Liz Reply

    My husband said he doesn’t love me anymore. It’s been 1 1/2 since he told me. We’ve went to counseling and church groups. We get a long for the most part. We have 2 kids. I’m trying to hang on, but it’s so hard to stay in a loveless marriage.

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      Hi Liz
      It seems to you that you have tried by going to counseling and church groups, but unfortunately it is the blind leading the blind…so although your pure intentions were there, on BOTH of your parts, you had no chance of getting any help. This is sad, but true.

      Before I first started to help couples I figured I would find a good marriage counselor to send the cases who I thought could be helped to. But everyone I spoke with was really dumb about marriage.. That’s why I did my own research…okay, I don’t want to bore you…
      The bottom line is I hope you have took the advice in the article and bought one of my books! You and your husband can read it together, and I will bet anything your marriage will turn around very quickly… If your husband is into it, and you are too, you could get the golden treatment with the course. But I will tell you right now, there is NO reason why you two should not be madly in love with each other!

      Stay in touch… unless you are leaving some huge things out, you guys will get there VERY quickly… EZPZ

  4. Sam Reply

    I can’t forget my husbands infidelity with his coworker. He said he backed. But still they are in the same office. I have two son. I’m 45, and he 48. I love him but can’t take his cheating. What he did in my bed too. How can i forgive him.. Who break my 20 years trust. On my 20th anniversary too.

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      You are sitting on a time bomb! See if you can’t sign up for the webinar for infidelity

  5. Mrs. Scott Reply

    I have been married for 4 yrs. My husband takes flirting to the next level of over stepping boundaries. He exchanges numbers with other women, he takes them around his friends and family of which I’m not invited. He is friends with all of his exes and their children on social media. We’re not friends on social media or my children. I’ve expressed this issue with him time and again and all he does is makes excuses for it and dismiss how it impact our marriage. This year was the first year my children and I were invited to his families Thanksgiving dinner. And to my surprise his ex girlfriend and his daughters mother was there ( his daughter is 26 and married with 2 children, so I don’t get why her mom who is supposed to be engaged to another man,there). I’m tired and ready to give up. I’ve prayed, went to counseling and talked to friends.

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      Clearly there are things you have left out, but the bottom line is your marriage is failed. So, you can do something about it, or quit it. If you want to have a good marriage with him I would say you are way past reading one of our books, you need to take our course… Here is an explanation in this video

      Feel free to write back after you watch the video

  6. Al Reply

    Hi I’m Al ,

    I’ve been married to my wife for almost 7 years , we are at a point where she still has not healed from the abuse of her mom . Her mom was not all that supportive be cause we decided to live together before we got married. This put a massive impact on our marriage my wife doesn’t like to celebrate our anniversary, doesn’t have pictures in the house . She’s gotten counciling but it always resurfaces, I’m just emotionally drained iv tried to be supportive. Her mom doesn’t believe she done anything wrong and so theres no closure . We haven’t had a child of our own , not really having sex on a regular . Just been dealing with alot of things . I’m not really thinking divorce but part of me is thinking separation . I adopted her son about 4 years ago so there is a Teen involved. I just dont know what to do. It all comes back to her mom . Help!!!

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      Dear Al
      None of this comes back to her mom.
      I’m pretty certain that if you read my book Breaking The Cycle, as a marriage manual, you will be able to figure the rest out. Its gnarly now, but your marriage is in less danger than you think IF you get and use the concepts I explain. Really, unless there are some things you forgot to mention. If something is hidden, though I don’t get there is, you don’t need the course. Though most who get to this article do, your situation is not there.

  7. Darrin Reply

    My wife took out three children and left the state. She moved in with her mother who is an alcoholic and hoarder. My career brought my family here. My wife agreeed to come – she was not forced.
    I was blindsided. She wants to remain married but conditionally – me returning to her home state. I tried that for 7 yrs and was very unhappy. One of many reasons I wanted to move was that it is a remote area with little white collar industry available.
    I live her and I know she loves me. But I am dumbfounded that she ran away with our children. Before moving we wet both very invested in our children (school, athletics, activities, church, chores, etc.)
    No abuse, no addictions, no affairs. But major divide in making decisions together and trust. She made a unilateral decision that has impacted the entire family, namely our children who need their daddy very much and I need them too.

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      My heart goes out to all of you.
      You already know there is no “solution” for this kind of tragedy. There are no sides or worthy explanations. There simply are times and experiences in this world that knock us down, and often keep kicking.
      During these experiences we still have choices to make, and we must reflect, introspect, and put our efforts into changing ourselves, because that is the only thing that will make us better equipped for the future.
      I, and many, turn to God. I pray for those who behave towards me callously, knowing they must “pay” and I love them, so want them to grow, too.

      You didn’t ask for advice, and there is nothing I could offer anyway. But I will pray for you all.

  8. Karen Reply

    My son cheated on his wife with a coworker, although it is over his wife is demanding he quit his job. There are no jobs that match what he does in the area, he will have to take a big pay cut if he can get a different job, and he has a time limit. My son loves what he does. He is worried that they haven’t fixed the underlying problems for him to give up the security and income of his job. There are no kids. Thoughts?

  9. Paul Friedman Post authorReply

    Why are you involved? Your son and his wife have a marriage which should exclude you from virtually every aspect of their private life.
    You should politely decline your son’s any request for marriage guidence, and NEVER chime in with your opinions, or suggestions on your own. In fact, if your son or daughter-in-law ask you should effectively tell them to take responsibility for their life together and strive to love one another, and nothing else.

    If either of them want my help they can comment in a post, or if they want help from one of our counselors they should write. That is the only suggetsion you should make.

  10. Steph Reply

    So I love my husband more than words could ever explain, but he has severe anger problems. These problems are effecting my happiness, but he thinks he shouldn’t have to fix these issues that everyone should just understand and not take it personally when he is lashing out, being mean and breaking things. He goes through phases where for about 2 weeks a month it gets to be almost unbearable and then something gives and he’s back to being my husband. He has actually apologized for living in a house full of pussys when I told him this behavior was not ok. Also I found out in these angry phases he was turning to live random video sex chat that he had hidden from me for at least a year so now my trust isn’t as strong either. I really don’t know what to do, talking to him just sets him off and he does not believe in counseling. I hate that I find myself slowly pulling away and looking for a way out. But I dont know how to fix this.

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      I am sure nobody can appreciate what you are going through, and I’m glad you came to us. I will do my best to assure you your marriage is not a sad ending, but before we can heal the marriage we need you to get into a good place, where you are calm, objective, and not at all reactive.
      I have been writing an article that addresses the most common questions our counselors get and it has so much that will be relevant to you so I would like you to read it https://themarriagefoundation.org/our-counselors-responses-to-most-asked-marriage-help-questions/

  11. Leiyann Reply

    My husband and I have been together for 17years. We have two beautiful children together and a third on the way. Last month he told me he had an affair with one of his friends. He believes her one month old baby is his. I’m heart broken. He wants to be an active father to this child eventually. Right now, I don’t want to be involved with the other child at all.

    I know the underlying issues of our marriage-my lack of affection and sexual desires the past 3-4 years. We are in counseling and it is very helpful. I love my husband but I can’t help but feel ashamed and embarrassed for trying to make it work. When I think about how my family and friends will react, I immediately want a divorce. When I think of us and our children, I believe it’s worth a try. Your article says that having another family is grounds for divorce. Is having a child from an affair also grounds for divorce? How will I trust him when he has to have contact with her to care for the child?

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      I must respectfully say that the counseling isn’t working for you although there may be some improvements. You need to have a specific pathway to total healing in your own heart and mind. So, please consider taking the course and see if your husband is also interested. You can continue the counseling of course, but I feel you need more.
      In your circumstances, which are not usual for when a man starts another family, you should do all you can to heal yourself and your marriage. The advice in the article doesn’t apply to you because your husband is trying to juggle things to gain as happy a path as is possible in spite of his error. I think you may want to try expanding your heart on this one, too. Love is not for us to decide who gets it and why. Love is the essence of life to be shared appropriately for all, especially with our spouse and all children.

  12. Adrian Reply

    Sorry I am not using my real name. 6 months ago my wife came and told me she had a affair. She did not disclose full detail. After some digging it lasted 6 months with a customer from her work. She told me the affair was over. In July I caught her meeting with him to talk. The partner is also married. She told me she doesn’t want a divorce but not sure about reconciliation. Don’t understand what that mean. She also have a male friend that I have met that knows more about her personal life than I do. They would meet every now and then to have dinner and to complain about their spouse. I know he wants to take it to next level and I believe she has thought about it. I still love her and wants to keep our family together we have 2 kids of our own and I have one from previous relationship. I don’t trust her because she continues to lie over and over. Is it too late.

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      The answer to Adrian’s question should be expanded into two differently asked questions. They should be
      1. Will (could) my wife ever be my “real” wife, one who is intimate with me, honest with me and loyal, and
      2. What could I have done differently in our marriage to have prevented the dynamics from allowing this?

      1. Without getting into the psychology behind his wife’s actions because they should not matter to Adrian, suffice to say that all of us are ‘what’ we are because of our habits. We act and react in predictable ways to occurrences and challenges. When women, specifically women, are weak morally when loyalty is called for in marriage, (women are not the same as men in this case) her ability to stray makes her chances of straying again nearly inevitable, unless, and this is a HUGE exception, she was not merely straying for ‘fun’ and “gratification”, but was already out of her marriage for all intents and purposes. So, in both cases, the chances for a successful re-start of his marriage are not dependent on only Adrian’s education and major personal growth, but hers. As a man who demonstrates a lack of awareness of his wife’s states of mind and emotions it is unlikely that he could be the one to inspire her to look at herself or want to alter her course in life. On one hand, his marriage is doomed because he has no power in his role as husband, and on the other hand, she has already left her marriage.

      2. What Adrian could have done differently is valuable for others and for his future but will probably not change the course of his current marriage; probably, not 100%.
      All troubled marriages can trace their suffering back to two core problems with how we get married
      1) not understanding marriage, which is good because in the vast majority of those marriages all we need to do is get the needed marriage training to change everything and end up with a blissful marriage that functions as it should producing ever-increasing love and happiness. and much more rare
      2) we picked a “loser” and we must now first learn about marriage and change our ways, which will help us be happy in spite of our partner’s deep-seated flaws (write to our counselors for help in making the determination https://themarriagefoundation.org/free-marriage-help/) or leave the marriage when there is no choice, like when you have children.

      Adrian should, for his children’s’ sake, do all he can to learn about marriage so he can prolong his marriage and increase his skills as a husband and father. He would do better with the course for men than with one of our books because the skills he will learn from the course are very useful for what he is going through and those skills are life-changing.

  13. Colleen Reply

    Miss the love in my marriage. Sex is rare, he is so angry all the time. There is nothing I can say without him screaming at me. So harsh I don’t even think he likes me at all… heartbroken

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      The course for women from The Marriage Foundation would be a great choice for you.

  14. Tony G Reply

    Married 37 years, wife said she was done 1 year ago. Tried marriage counseling, no help (I’m sure you aren’t surprised!) She has moved into her own apartment (4 months ago), and there is no affair. I love her deeply but for many years have made many of the classic mistakes (and never physical abuse or affairs). For at least the last 6 months, I have been making significant changes in my behavior and my outlook on life and all my relationships. Have already been applying many of the self help improvements that TMF suggests and am reading “Breaking the Cycle”. What’s my best course of action to get her to see that we can re-build a better life together than apart? I strongly believe that I can essentially start with a clean slate, work to make our relationship whole again, and to make her happy. I’m sure that my consistency and selflessness will be important, but what in your experience is a likely timeframe for my wife to even begin to consider trying to work towards reconciliation? Or is this non-recoverable? Thank you for any advice and help you can provide.

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      Tony is doing everything right. The only advice I would give him is to keep his eyes open for the idea of starting a new life. Not to push for one, but to be open to it.

  15. Brandon Reply

    I have been married 22 years. About 3 years ago I told my wife I thought we should divorce but I would re-think it if we could do some sort of therapy. We went to about 5 sessions, and that was it. It became “we’re too busy” and “we’ve made enough changes.”

    Like her mother, my wife’s focus has become on taking the kids to their respective sports and talking about nothing but the kids and their sports. We never have sex–she has never enjoyed sex and is generally inorgasmic. She blames it on a car accident before we met that injured her physically.

    When I try to talk about our problems, she procrastinates, or just listens to me complain, then shrugs and says we are busy because we have kids. If we finally do a rare date night out, she spends the dinners talking about bills, house projects, and the kids and their next sporting event.

    I fear she wanted to stay married only out of concern of how she would survive financially or because of the “shame” of getting divorced.

    I’m so tired of living like this. We have no strategy to fix this situation which really bothers me. Not sure what to do?

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      Brandon is in a tough situation because he does not see that there are probably causes that he is responsible for and has also paid the ‘price’ most pay for going to a therapist, most of whom do not know how to help couples (to no fault of their own). If he reads one of our books or takes the course for men he will at least have many things he can try. I think it would really help him.

  16. Rose Reply


    I am not sure where to go with my marriage. We’ve been married 11yrs, have a 5yo and 2yo. He likes to push my buttons, for example, if I ask for him to help do something he will sit there until I get upset and then he will start moving but tell me to calm down. Then, with our 5yo, he has very little patience and does more than one consequence for bad behavior. We usually fight over the kids and don’t see eye-to-eye on raising the kids or expectations/rules for behavior. He also will just shut down if I try to tell him what it is that’s bugging me and I would like to change. He even shuts out the kids and just has a blank stare. He does smoke weed about once or twice a week, but I’ve told him he should stop but he won’t since his friends all do it. My friends have suggested a divorce and that, while he is nice, I could do better (have a man/father, not someone acting like a kid). We’ve tried counseling twice with no improvement, so we are open to any thoughts.

    • Paul Friedman Post authorReply

      Husbands are not meant to be upgraded like appliances. Your marriage has the potential to lift you both to places of love and joy but we are not taught. Take the course for women. You will be so glad you did.

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