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Marriage can be a challenging path full of stress, arguments, frustration and worry. However, when the normal hardships of marriage grow out of proportion, it is time to consider your future. Infidelity, drug use, criminal activity or simply growing apart can signal the end of a loving relationship. Unfortunately, many people attempt to fight through and remain married for the sake of marriage rather than selecting divorce to start a better future.

The draw to stay married can be a strong one but it is typically based on anecdotes and a desire to “fix” things. However, here are three things to keep in mind as you debate your future happiness:

  • You’re not fooling anyone: If one of the main reasons for staying together is the shame of admitting that the marriage has fallen apart, you should reconsider. It is likely that your friends and family have already picked up on the unhappiness – either consciously or subconsciously. Those who know you best will detect changes in your mood even when you think you are carefully hiding what’s going on at home.
  • Including your children: While young children might not know exactly what’s going on, they will almost immediately sense a change in how their parents act toward each other. If you are staying together for the sake of the children, it is likely you’re doing more harm than good. You’re forcing the children into an uncomfortable position where they will likely have to choose one parent over the other while experiencing daily (and growing) hostility.
  • Your health can suffer: While the stress of divorce might seem like something to avoid, daily stress and the conflict of a bad marriage can cause numerous health issues. Lack of sleep, ulcers, a poor diet – these can all be related to stress and frustration in your marriage. The longer it goes on, the worse it becomes.

While it might be wise to work through your differences, it is also crucial to recognize when the marriage simply isn’t working. Staying together out of a fear of starting a new relationship or a desire to avoid the stigma of divorce are not strong enough reasons to fight to salvage a bad marriage.