If you are thinking of leaving your marriage, you need to check the FIVE W’S…
the basic questions for information-gathering or problem-solving. They are often used in journalism, research, and police investigations and provide the formula for getting a complete story, a complete picture.
YOUR FIVE QUESTIONS +1: WHAT? WHY? WHO? WHEN? WHERE? and HOW?
- WHAT happened to make you want to leave this marriage? HOW did it happen?
- WHY did it happen? Is the relationship dead? Is it intolerable? Did one of you have an affair? Is there no communication? No trust? No respect? No interest in having sex? Nothing in common any more? In my book, “The Relationship Trap,” I list the many characteristics of a good relationship. The aforementioned are just a few. How many were missing from your relationship?
- WHO do you talk to about leaving? It’s important to consult a lawyer to learn what your options are and how to protect yourself during the divorce proceedings. You also need to know the cost of legal aid. If you cannot afford an expensive lawyer, there are women’s organizations that can provide affordable legal aide. Above all, do not be your own lawyer, and DO NOT use your husband’s lawyer. His lawyer is only on your husband’s side, no matter what assurances your husband offers.
It is also important to seek counseling. Find a counselor who can help you work through your issues, and talk about your feelings and the state of the marriage.
- WHEN will you say “I want a divorce? How do you decide when to say the words? How to get the words out of your mouth? A good book to read, which can help you is Learning to Leave, a Woman’s Guide by Lynette Triere.
A friend told me how her husband, a supposedly respected doctor, hurled their little dog against the wall and said in a threatening tone, “The next time it’ll be you!” She was afraid to say the words “I want a divorce!” and decided not to wait around for “the next time” and immediately started planning to leave. She could no longer live with her abusive husband. Not only had it become intolerable, she was afraid for her life and felt it was her only choice. A few weeks later, as soon as he left for his office, a moving truck pulled into the driveway; they loaded some of her possessions, and she fled Washington, DC, returning to the safety of her family in North Carolina.
On the other hand, it took me two years to finally blurt out the words. I was waiting for “the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” the final blow that would make me say, “I’ve had enough! I want a divorce!” Incidents came and went until at last, I said the words. I wasted two years that I could have used to develop my self-worth and confidence, and to learn how to live on my own.
- WHERE will you live? You might want or need to remain in your house, but can you afford to maintain it? Do your research. Investigate housing that is available in your area, in case you do need to move.
- HOW will you get along financially? Will you have money issues? How are your finances? Do you have a career in which you can earn enough money to support yourself? Will you need alimony? Child support? How much? Make a list of your expenses. It is of utmost importance to have a “nest egg,” money saved for this rainy day. If you don’t have one, start today and quietly put away as much money as you can.
Do you live in a community property state? There are nine states in the U.S. that are community property states. In these states, all marital property is divided equally between spouses in a divorce. Each spouse has an automatic half-interest in the property and debts acquired during the marriage, with the exception of anything received by way of an inheritance. Assets acquired before the date of marriage or after the date of separation are not considered included in this calculation.
A woman who is thinking of divorcing and does her homework, will have a better chance of tackling the trauma of divorce.
Marilyn Frazer, M.A.
Relationship Counseling, LLC