Family LawAttorney Marilyn Gale Vilyus Offers Guidance On Divorce: Should...

Attorney Marilyn Gale Vilyus Offers Guidance On Divorce: Should One Get Divorced Or Not?


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No one except an individual can determine whether or not a divorce is right for him or her. However, there are some general questions which pretty much apply to everybody. 

Thinking about the following issues may help them evaluate whether a divorce is right for themselves.

What specifically is making someone think of divorce?

Physical Abuse

When a spouse is violent to someone and/or their kids, this is a safety issue. No matter what someone may have done, no one deserves to be physically hurt. Spouses may try to justify their actions by casting blame for all marital problems. A marriage requires effort by both persons to make it work. 

Ask the following questions:

a. Has your spouse tried to isolate you from your friends and family?

b. Have you had to call the police to stop violence?

c. Have you ever had to go to the hospital as a result of being hurt by your spouse?

d. Does your spouse apologize after hurting you and promise “never to do it again?”

e. Do you try to do everything “right” to keep your spouse from losing his or her temper?

f. Does this work for a little while, only to have the violence eventually start again?

g. Can you feel the pressure building in between violent episodes?

h. Does the smallest thing set off a violent episode?

i. Do you feel that nothing you do is right?

If someone can identify with the above questions, he or she may be a victim of “battered spouse syndrome.” This situation, although it can occur with both wives and husbands, usually describes a situation in which a husband is physically abusing his wife. 

A great deal of psychological and legal study has been done on this topic. Often, women who have been abused “forgive their husbands” and stay in the abusive situation. 

It has been found that five times is the average number of times a woman leaves her spouse before she can successfully escape the psychological control an abusive spouse can have over her.

Often, an abused wife alienates her family and friends who get angry when they try to help the woman leave, only to learn that she has returned to her husband and the dangerous situation.

Many think they don’t have anywhere to go. Most cities have special shelters for women and children and will keep a location secret from husbands. Free legal fees are also frequently available.

Help is definitely available. Don’t stay or permit children to stay in a situation which could result in serious injury or even death. 

Those who think they may be the abuser in this situation may also find help to stop the pattern of behavior to move forward and enjoy the pleasure of a healthy, happy relationship. 

Everyone deserves a second chance at happiness. Everybody can change and learn and grow from our mistakes. Maybe counseling is the answer. 

Maybe an anger management class would help; or, spiritual guidance from a member of the clergy. Perhaps yoga, meditation or some other form of “alternative” medicine. Reach out and find the help that is available.

The Affair

Most believe that never in a million years could it happen to them. All of sudden, a spouse stays up late or gets up in the middle of the night to use the computer. 

Chat rooms, e-mails, internet “buddies.” How did that picture get distributed on the internet? (You know, the one you took thinking that it would remain private between you and your spouse.)

Then, there are the old-fashioned, more traditional ways to cheat: the business trip, the co-worker, or the high school reunion hook-up. Let’s not forget the world’s oldest profession. 

The question is – does someone leave or stay?

The world is divided into two groups of people – spouses who can forgive an affair by their spouse and move forward – and those who can’t.

Those who fall victim to a wandering spouse should be honest and think about whether they want the marriage to continue. Is there a sincere desire to work things out, or is someone secretly determined to make their spouse’s life a living hell? Maybe they don’t really want this consciously; perhaps they just can’t help themselves.

Maybe personal or spiritual values will keep them from continuing in a marriage in which a spouse has cheated. Or, the opposite could be true – those who feel they are committed to stay in a marriage no matter what.

Being honest about true motives will go a long way towards helping make the right decision.

It’s also possible that the marriage has been over for a long time. 

What would have to happen to save a relationship – talk about what seems to be missing in the marriage? Do the spouses still love each other? 

Or, is it just a day late and a dollar short? 

Sometimes, a couple has passed the point of no return. Regardless of whether a spouse wants a divorce or not, the State of Texas will not force a couple to live together if one of them wants a divorce. 

Most of the time, one person leaves the relationship long before the other. A spouse may need some “catch-up” time to get used to this idea.

If this is the case, be prepared for a bumpy ride for a while. A spouse will probably alternate between being angry, depressed, bargaining, penitent, furious, grieving, victimized, vengeful, retaliatory, depressed again, pathetic, and hostile (and then all over again). 

It’s possible spouses may not know which of the other spouse’s “multiple personalities” they are going to have to deal with on any given day. One minute, everything is calm and both are talking rationally. The next day, they’re living in the seventh circle of hell.

It helps to remember that some of this is purely situational; ie. it is (believe it or not) normal behavior. It isn’t actually about the two individuals – one and a spouse. Instead, it’s about being hurt and feeling betrayed. Both parties feel guilty. Both are suffering. Both feel just plain miserable. 


Those purchases seemed like a good idea at the time. All of a sudden, credit card debt and lots of it (thousands and thousands of dollars worth) moves the question to whether to declare bankruptcy and then get divorced or vice versa.

Some may not want or intend to declare bankruptcy at all. If this is a consideration though, contact a bankruptcy attorney to best consider the options that make the most sense for a personal situation.

Other kinds of financial problems frequently stress a marriage and can bring it to an early conclusion: gambling, excessive drinking, drug use (the costs involved here), spending on step-children or adult children. 

Got problems with child support from a previous relationship? (Interest and penalties can cause the most loving spouse to lose his or her sense of humor.)

Money can’t buy happiness. It has been suggested that the people who believe that don’t know where to shop. 

Food and shelter are pretty basic needs (Maslow’s Hierarchy – Psychology 101). A spouse who thinks his or her partner is to blame for their financial ruin may just decide to cut their losses and run (very fast).

Debt counseling and debt consolidation could help. Getting out from under steep monthly payments may provide much needed relief, as can refinancing the house or a home equity loan. 

These solutions will only work if the couple cures the disease and not just the symptoms. A serious change in lifestyle is in order.

Can a couple work this through? Can they afford to split up? Two people can live together cheaper than they can apart – sometimes, a couple literally cannot make it financially living separately. 


Those who review these questions may not be any closer to knowing whether or not filing for divorce is the right answer, but may find it helpful when thinking about some of the above in the decision making process.

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