Laura Doyle

How to Know if You Should Get a Divorce

I hate hearing about someone getting divorced.

It always gives me a sinking feeling because I remember the pain and desperation I felt years ago when I was contemplating divorce. I remember how lonely and miserable that was, and—I now know—how unnecessary.

My mission is to end world divorce by getting women the information that changed my marriage into the intimate, passionate, peaceful union that I have now. That’s what I do every day—give women the tools they need to prevent divorce and create gratifying relationships.

That being said, how do you know if you should get a divorce?

I am quick to endorse a divorce in certain situations. For example, I would support you getting divorced immediately if and only if you are married to a man who is:

Physically abusive to you or your children. Clearly you’re not safe when you or your children are in harm’s way. When your safety is threatened, there can be no intimacy. Protect yourself by leaving and filing for divorce.

Actively addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling. A man who is addicted to one of these three things cannot be trusted. I can offer no hope of intimacy in this situation, as he will always serve his addiction ahead of your safety and happiness and that of your children. This is not a true marriage, as his highest commitment is to his addiction and not to you.

Not capable of being faithful. A man who has been unfaithful repeatedly, despite promises to the contrary, can’t be trusted. This defies the very definition of a marriage, which is a pledge to forsake all others in favor of the person you decide to commit to.

All three of these situations are very hard on your self-esteem. The men in these categories create a world of distortion and destruction with their deception and cruelty—even if they don’t intend to.

That’s not to say that it’s easy or enjoyable to break up your family or your relationship with such a man. It’s very difficult, painful and tragic. My heart breaks for women in this situation. I wish I knew an easier, softer way to find peace and sanity, but my experience helping hundreds of thousands of women from all over the world tells me there is no easier, softer way.

Women who end relationships with these kinds of men and form new ones with good guys repeatedly tell me they are shocked at the improvement. One woman told me she is thankful and joyful every single day to experience the tenderness and constancy of her good guy after divorcing one of the terrible three.

A past extramarital affair does not automatically make your husband a chronic philanderer. And an addiction to food, cigarettes or pornography does not mean your relationship is doomed. And as outrageous as it may sound, a woman who is married to a man who is verbally abusive can still restore her marriage to it’s original glory.

Please don’t be too quick to throw out a husband who is imperfect because you fear that you can never get the intimacy you deserve.

If your husband doesn’t fall into one of the categories above, then I have good news: You have a good man—not a perfect man, but one that you can have a wonderful relationship with.

For more on how to have the intimate, passionate, peaceful relationship you deserve, download the free ebook The Six Lessons to Lifelong Love in the upper right-hand-corner of this page now.

For professional support on how to have an intimate, passionate, peaceful relationship with your man, please sign up or personal coaching or group coaching.


8 Comments

  1. After years of trying to “fix” my husband and our marriage, I stumbled upon this book, misshelved in the aromatherapy section of a tiny bookstore. I knew it was waiting for me to find it. I read it immediately and began to “surrender”, which I interpret as: 1) setting and maintaining boundaries, 2) taking care of my own needs, and 3) not accepting responsibility for my husband’s (or others’) behaviors.
    I began to practice “surrendering” 5 years ago in every part of my life. It worked immediately with my children, quickly with my parents, and successfully in all aspects, from my professional life to dealing with the cable company (notice I was doing that, not my husband–are you starting to ask questions?). Except my husband. Ms. Doyle said it could take a while to get through to the husband, so I tried for almost 3 years. I went around becoming a stronger person and improving relationships and behaviors with EVERYONE in my life. Except my husband.
    It took way too long for me to realize that the reason surrendering didn’t work with him was not because he is “stubborn and difficult” (as his family told me), not that I was “doing it wrong” (I had success with it everywhere else), but because he was (and is) abusive. It was so subtle and insidious that, though I always knew something was wrong, I always blamed myself. When I stopped trying to change him and took responsibility for myself (i.e., “surrendered”), I was no longer enabling his abuse or taking responsibility for his bad behavior. I realized that he had no desire to “please” me. He had no desire to take responsibility for his own life. We had a long and unnecessarily nasty divorce, even though I agreed up front to walk away with almost nothing except the children.
    I know that “surrendering” is meant to save marriages. It didn’t “save” my marriage but it saved my life. Surrendering allowed me to see the real motivation behind my husband’s behaviors. It allowed me to see that he didn’t have my well-being as part of the things that are important to him in life. He chose to bully and punish me instead of accepting responsibility for his role in the marriage. I am showing my daughters what it means to be a healthy woman who respects herself and what to do when others don’t feel the same way about you, even if they say they love you.
    Please remember that “surrendering” requires the good intentions of the husband. If he doesn’t have those intentions, the marriage is not healthy to begin with and shouldn’t be “saved”. A healthy woman will get herself out of a bad situation. Surrendering gave me the tools to get away. I am an unlikely surrendering success.

  2. My husband left me after 17 years of marriage because he said I “didn’t listen.” What he meant by “listen” was that I didn’t do everything exactly the way he wanted it done, or allow him to control and dictate my every move or emotion, while he laid out of church, spent wild amounts of money, and went drinking with friends. Over time, it became clear he was addicted to alcohol and pornography, both of which he blamed on me – If I had been a better wife, he wouldn’t have had to turn to them. I tried for months to be more submissive and loving, to save our marriage. Still he left. Two weeks after he moved out, I found out he had a giflfriend. When he began talking of leaving, months before the final move, I completely rededicated my life to Christ and to the study of His word. Since then, I have never felt closer to the Lord. But I still wonder what I could have done to save things. Should I have gone ahead and engagee in the kinky sex he wanted? Should I have turned a blind eye to the myriad pornography, including homosexual porn? Although I am beginning to see how free I am in Christ and how good life can be without my husbands oppression, I still wonder: What could I have done?

  3. stmonday

    Karen–Yours is a divorce I endorse. You can’t have an intimate relationship with a man who is addicted to alcohol or not capable of being faithful. My answer to you is no–you should not have tried to bend to his wishes. I feel it was critical to your safety and well-being to be away from him. I’m happy to hear that you are now safe! That’s wonderful. Perhaps you will consider taking the actions that would lead to attracting a good man–one who will cherish, desire, protect and adore you. There are many and the difference is night and day. Laura Doyle

  4. Please understand that I am not trying to be unkind, but I am desperately in need of truthful encouragement. On the same day I posted my comment, you responded to the poster above me, but left no words for me. I am curious if that was intentional or if a reply of some sort might still be forthcoming. Thank you, for this site and for sharing your wisdom.

  5. Traci–I put the wrong name on the post from 8/27. It was a response to you. Karen didn’t indicate that her husband was addicted to alcohol, so I know that response wasn’t intended for her. Apologies for the error. You’ll be amazed when you get into a relationship with a good guy and see what a difference that is.

  6. Thank you so much. I appreciate you and this site very much and I know it is instrumental in my healing process.

  7. Cristina

    I feel in a similar relationship like Traci had. My husband after knowing him for 24 years with 2 children, decided to reveal a new him, with a strong kinky taste. He decided he is a Dom and has been having an online case with another woman, a sub. They have been together at last once that I know, I believe he developed sex addiction through the kinky sex he started to explore as he can’t leave it and don’t really care with consequencies. He is confortable in our marriage and doesn’t want divorce. At the moment we are separated by my choice, but living together because finantially we can’t do it differently. I have been reading and applyed the surrender, hopping to recover the marriage, but he still says he doesn’t want to try again unless he is sure I can give him all he wants. And the other lady keeps pull him and he can’t leave because of the sub way she treats him. Any advice would be greatful, I have also considered a divorce if he doesn’t change his behavior. He says he loves me, but doesn’t want to leave the kinky style he is having online and we have no intimacy at the moment. Don’t really trust him while he has someone…should I keep try…thank you.

  8. Cristina–Sorry to hear about your husband’s disappointing and hurtful behavior. A 24-year marriage with two children is a rare and valuable thing and I applaud your efforts to try to restore the marriage with surrendering. I certainly respect your decision to separate while he’s still involved with another woman. I don’t blame you for not trusting him presently while the other woman is still in his life.

    During the next 60 days, consider embarking on an experiment of showing as much respect, gratitude, acceptance, vulnerability and receptivity as you can muster. You might kick it off by apologizing for specific times you’ve been disrespectful to him, and then express gratitude three times daily, for instance. You will need to be vigilant about your self-care to pull this off. I know it seems like he’s the one who should be making that kind of effort right now, but there’s a family hanging in the balance and I’d hate to see any stone left unturned with something so precious at stake. Consider being the bigger person.

    At the end of the 60 days, you can re-evaluate the situation and decide what fits for you. It’s possible that this can resurrect your husband’s sense of loyalty and devotion and that will help him decide to end his infidelity. We can’t know for sure how he will respond, but you will know at that time that you’ve done everything you could to preserve your family. You might consider taking Intimacy Skills Training during those 60 days for support.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you as you summon your highest self for the purpose of resurrecting your marriage and the man you fell in love with.

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