Have you ever struggled with a big decision? I’m not talking about trying to decide between chicken or beef enchiladas. I mean BIG, difficult, life-altering decisions. All of us have walked up to a fork in the road and had to decide between going one way or the other. I love Yogi Berra’s perspective: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it”. Unfortunately, big decisions are a little more complex. Often, it’s a choice between two very good options. But sometimes it’s more like a ‘caught between a rock and a hard place’ type of scenario. There’s plenty of books out there that talk about how to make a good decision in difficult situations. But I want to focus on one particular situation that I believe is one of the most difficult – DIVORCE.
Divorce is a decision; and one that deserves a lot of honest, sober-minded consideration by those involved
This experience is inherently a very emotional thing. As a marriage & family therapist that specializes in helping couples who are looking at divorce, I do my best to try to help them see through the emotions of the situation and see the factors at play in their decision-making process. It reminds me of a situation my wife and I found ourselves in several years ago.
Keep it or scrap it?
It was winter, 2008 and my wife and I were driving back to Oklahoma City from my parents’ house in Missouri. We had just celebrated Christmas with my family. We had our baby daughter in the back seat, and a trunk full of presents. We were about halfway through our 4 hour trip home, and we were right in the middle of Tulsa, Oklahoma, when it happened. I noticed the “Check Engine” light come on. I didn’t think too much of it at the moment, because it had done that before, and it had always not been a big deal. But about 10 seconds later, that peace disappeared when the “Oil Pressure” light came on and we smelled smoke. Then our beloved car went completely dead, leaving us coasting down I-44 in the middle of the night. I made it to the shoulder of the highway where we did damage control. Long story short, we were able to get help from my younger brother and his wife, who were about an hour ahead of us. They drove us the rest of the way home and we had the car towed to a local repair shop, until we could decide what we wanted to do.
In the day or two that followed, we had a decision to make:
- Option 1: We figure out what went wrong and decide if it can be fixed.
- Option 2: We sell the car for $500 to a scrap yard and go into debt for a new one.
Keep it, or scrap it. Two simple options, but many different factors involved in that decision. What went wrong? Is there too much damage to repair? Is the car worth it? Do we have enough money to fix it? Do we want to go into debt to get a new(er) car? These are just the logistic aspects of the decision. Then, there are the emotional aspects of it: Did I ever really like that car? Can I ever feel like I trust that car after this incident? These questions are but a few of the many factors involved in decisions like this.
Before pulling the trigger on a relatively big decision like that, we had some questions to get answered first. After doing some research and making a bunch of phone calls, we decided that even though it would be more FUN to just scrap the thing and go get a newer car, we should probably fix the Honda (we had found out that it was fixable), and drive it a few more years while we save our money for something newer. And that’s what we did.
Take a second look: IMPORTANT questions to consider
Now, let’s take another look at the questions we were forced to ask in our car situation. They’re the same basic questions that a couple asks when looking at divorce.
- What went wrong?
- Is there too much damage to repair?
- Is this marriage worth it?
- Did I ever really love this person?
- Can I ever trust this person after what has happened?
The basic questions are these: Is it fixable? And if it is, do I even want to fix it? These are not questions to be taken lightly, and I make it my mission to help people look at all these questions honestly before deciding on which path to take.
Discernment counseling may be what you are looking for
If you or someone you know has gotten to the point of considering divorce, I encourage you (or them) to take this fork in the road VERY seriously. Don’t make a knee-jerk decision. Seek out a professional to help you work through all the questions and emotion you are experiencing. Through a process called Discernment Counseling, we ask those important questions, and give each partner the space needed to give honest and authentic answers. This is what I truly love to do! So, feel free to contact me if you’re interested or have questions on this process. I’d be happy to help, or, at minimum, point you in a direction where you can receive the help and resources you are looking for as you take this journey.
ARTICLE WRITTEN BY:
Licensed Marital & Family Therapist
Certified Discernment Counselor