Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Dr. Corey Hirsch, JD, LCSW on Feb 25, 2023 in Relationship and Family

Realizing that it may be time to get a divorce often leads to having to make one of life’s most difficult decisions. One or both spouses may struggle for months (or even years) before finally deciding to end the marriage. Arguably, when people say, “I do,” they mean it, and they intend to spend the rest of their lives together. It’s highly doubtful that anyone spends their childhood or young adult years fantasizing about being in a deteriorated relationship or going through a divorce. However, people may grow apart over time and realize they no longer share the same values. Financial issues or family conflicts can lead to ruptures which cannot be repaired.

If you are contemplating divorce, you likely have many questions and uncertainties running through your mind: "What will the financial consequences be? How will divorce impact my kids and other relationships? How will I make it on my own? Does divorce mean that I am a failure? Sometimes I feel more sure that I want 'out' of this relationship than others. Is the timing right? How can I be certain that divorce is right for me?"

Divorce often occurs after months (and sometimes many years) of ongoing problems and emotional pain — including disappointment, anger, and resentment. The most common reasons for divorce are: infidelity, lack of commitment to the marriage, substance use, parenting disagreements, financial issues, domestic violence, and substance abuse. Dissolution is a process that begins with an emotional divorce and ends with a legal divorce.

Is It Time to Move On?

While many relationships make it through the ups and downs of marriage, many do not. How do you know when it is time to call it quits? Here are some common signs that you may be ready for divorce.

Prioritizing Work, Kids, or Anything Else over the Marriage

Issues such as kids, work, or perhaps ailing family members may impact the relationship in a positive or negative way. Sometimes life just gets “lifey,” and every relationship has its challenges. But when a partner becomes so focused on any one thing, whether it be work or the kids, the marriage suffers. The outside issue takes over, leaving no room for connection, and the other partner feels rejected, lonely, ignored, or unloved. A breach in the relationship occurs, and it can grow so big that that the relationship becomes irreparable.

Winning Is Everything

In marriage, when one person wins, both people lose. While conflict is inevitable, how the conflict is resolved impacts the quality of the relationship. Engaging in dirty fighting (like name-calling, throwing in mention of the dirty dishes, or bringing up old issues) causes disconnection, and the relationship is likely to erode over time. What was once love and connection may result in anger, resentment, and even disgust for the other person.

Disappointment or Non-acceptance

Perhaps you think the marriage can be saved if your spouse just changes one thing or another. Partners often have ongoing and repeated discussions about a particular problem. One partner promises to make changes, and the other remains hopeful that the marriage will improve. Yet, as the same problem arises repeatedly, hope turns to anger and resentment. Trust erodes, and feeling exhausted and worn out, you may wonder if divorce is the only solution.


Sometimes months or years of struggle lead to apathy. Perhaps your spouse used to be your “go-to” person, but now — when something big happens — you find yourself calling someone else. When we stop sharing the important moments with our spouse, disconnection occurs. We may also stop caring about maintaining the aspects of the relationship that brought us together. Disconnection and lack of motivation cause the relationship to stop growing and feelings of isolation, boredom, or complacency to set in.

Reach Out for Help When Making the Difficult Decision to Stay or to Go

Working with a therapist provides the space and safety to process your thoughts and feelings and to understand your situation more clearly. You will learn tools you can use to try to improve your marriage and gain greater clarity about your options. You do not need to make this difficult decision alone. If you are considering divorce, I can help you to confidently decide whether to stay or leave. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment or a complimentary 15-minute consultation, call me at (310) 486-8842 or email me at [email protected]

Dr. Corey Hirsch is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in AGOURA HILLS, CA.

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