Couple looking to each other during therapy session while therapist watches

by Wendy Pegan

By the time couples reach my office door, they have had it. “If this continues, we are through!” “I’ve had enough!” “I don’t know whether to stay or go?” They ask, “How bad is bad enough to leave?”

What often happens next, or even before they step foot in my office, is that one or both of them have contacted an attorney in order to find out what “their rights are.”

It has always amazed me that people are willing to pay attorneys thousands of dollars to put an end to the suffering in their marriages, when it could cost them far less to learn how to live together, save their families and their life-long finances.

Learning to live together is NOT easy. It befuddles all our expectations of the perfect marriage or relationship. We start seeing the flaws in the person we thought would bring us endless daily bliss. They become boring, difficult and just plain annoying, but divorce is more of an emotional battle rather than a legal one. You didn’t please me… you didn’t change when I asked you to…you never listened to me or made me a priority. These are the things that couples argue over even years after all the paperwork for the divorce is signed and filed. Thus, family courts are bottle-necked all over the country.

Yes, of course, there are a number or legal issues regarding the termination of any contract, but the marital contract is filled with more than legal concerns. It is filled with hopes and dreams of a perfect life of fulfillment and no matter how much we try to stay relational, we fall helplessly into the emotional whirlwind of connecting to a human being in an intimate way that we will connect with no other. When we find that the one we have placed all our hopes in no longer wants to be with us, we become angry and protective of our things because our hearts are wide open and broken. We often use the courts as a place to “get back at the SOB” for leaving us. Deciding to leave without our spouse’s permission or knowledge was not a part of how we planned our life together.

When your marriage hits some rocky times, seek help. Don’t wait until it tears apart at the seams and becomes a divorce attorney’s ticket to sending their kids to an Ivy League school while yours suffer from wasted resources. Find a counselor or coach who works with couples to help heal the hurts and begin to rediscover how to fall in love again.
Better yet, if you are thinking about getting married or living together, start by investing in a pre-marriage or couples coach. Learn how to speak up about the things that drive you nuts, or why sometimes silence is the best investment. Either way, you will have a better idea before the extravagant wedding day of whether you should stay or go. Don’t spend $20,000 on a wedding and $50,000 on a divorce! Invest in your marriage first!

About the Author:
Wendy Pegan is a Licensed Counselor, Mediator, Relationship Coach and founder of Creative Relationship Center. She assists in communication skills, runs Couples College and Relationship University, and mediates peaceful settlements without court involvement for individuals, small and family businesses. Learn more at To schedule an appointment, call 716-446-9226.