Should Your Marriage Be Saved?

If you are trying to decide whether to get a divorce, you must understand that your decision to divorce should be based on the fact that there is no hope left for your marriage. If you have any reason to believe your marriage can be saved or, more accurately, should be saved, it will be far better to head to a marriage counselor.

When you are in the midst of an unhappy marriage, it is easy to see divorce as the cure to all of your problems. According to Dr. Krantzler in the book Divorcing, “Divorce may very well be the absolutely necessary precondition to your remaining emotionally alive; it could be an opportunity to free yourself to create your own happiness, but it is not a guarantee in and of itself that the act of divorcing will create that happiness for you."

If you are feeling certain that your marriage is at a dead end, you need to remember that divorce is considered to be one of the most traumatic experiences in life, second only to death of a loved one. In many cases, it takes much more energy to put your life back together after a divorce than to work at improving your marriage.

 It is possible your marriage should be saved if:

  • You and your spouse still believe there is some love left in your relationship.

  • You both recognize you are harming each other out of unawareness, not vindictiveness.

  • Both of you are willing to get outside help. You understand that a good marriage counselor will be able to view your situation objectively.

  • You would both rather be happy than right. You are willing to let go of self-righteous feelings and would rather forgive each other than "get even."

  • Your common goal is to create a new marriage within your current marriage. The new one will have the main characteristic of love, not alienation.

If you have reason to believe your marriage is salvageable, your first step should be to tell your spouse you want to get counseling together. If he or she is willing to go with you, choose a counselor together. If your spouse has suggested counseling and you are the one who is reluctant, remember, it is a strong person who admits he or she needs help, not a weak one. Dr. Krantzler quotes a client who told him, “I only wish I had taken my wife’s advice and gone to a marriage counselor with her when she suggested it. We may have remained together, knowing what I know now, rather than break up. Now I’ll never know if that was possible.”

If you have already made up your mind to divorce, do not suggest going for counseling. The search for help with your marriage should be made in good faith. You should not use counseling as a way to prove to your spouse that divorce is the only answer, although that is a possible outcome. Certainly, counseling will not always help you put your marriage back together. It may, in fact, make it clear to you that divorce is absolutely necessary. If, regardless of your counseling sessions and your own best efforts, the idea of divorcing is constantly with you because of the intensifying pain of remaining together, legal divorce action may very well be your next step.


Krantzler, M., Ph.D. and M. Belli. Divorcing