A great strategy is to make a list of pains and gains. This is a little different than pros and cons, and can help identify the values associated with each choice. So you do the pains and gains of staying, and the pains and gains of leaving. You also can do it for the other scenarios you mentioned. Another task I have each partner do is to write a list of what they would miss in the marriage and about the other person, and what they would not miss—two lists. Finally, it is good to write a letter of gratitude to your partner going back to when you first met, and then also write a letter of apology going back to when you first met. Own your part.

Write these items and do these things with the intention that you are the only person who will see them. It is best to write them in a place where you can let any emotion you feel come up, including sadness, anger, fear. You can write by hand, or on a computer, just let it all out and be real.

Finally, while separation and divorce are common, and sometimes warranted, the process with children will likely be the most painful thing you will ever do in your life. There will be unexpected pain and heartache that you cannot imagine right now. There will also be times that you will have empty beds in your house. This is something no one can really describe to you. If there is effort and energy to put into your marriage, including the energy around thinking of getting divorced, it can be a great thing to do. Then, if you do decide to split, you will never look back on the decision. It’s a place for due diligence when deciding to change the story of your family. 

Then, if you go that route, it is great to take the time you need to figure out how you got yourself into a place of needing to get out. This will minimize the risk that you will repeat the same cycle in your next relationship. Second marriages have a higher divorce rate than first marriages. Second marriages can also be a place of true and conscious love, and the best life. There’s a quiet voice in you that knows whether your spirit is being crushed in your marriage, or if you have work that can be done there—never underestimate your inner voice as a mother or a wife—and a sentient being.