When an intimate relationship is no longer healthy – should you jump ship and abandon it, continue to fight for it even though you may be fighting a losing battle, or hold onto the understanding that marriages are imperfect and go through rough patches, but sooner or later things may settle down and improve?
And, how do you consider your children in the calculus?
Unfortunately, there is no clear cut path to follow that will lead to the right outcome. How you resolve this dilemma will depend on your personal circumstances and the conclusions you reach through a lot of thought.
- Time ticks on. And there’s no universal law telling you what to do: it’s truly your choice.
- Time ticks on. And every relationship you hold on to is another one that may be missed.
- Time ticks on. And each child values their parents together, despite their parent’s pain.
- Time ticks on. And you hold on, only to see something rekindled again.
- Time ticks on. And you are stuck in an arid relationship while stewing in regret.
- Time ticks on. And you make the decision to stay or leave – everyday.
- Time ticks on. And no one can predict the future; except that time is unforgiving.
Time is unforgiving because you can’t get it back. But, you can go forward with conviction.
A Marriage Repaired:
You can take on your marriage, improve yourself, deal with your children; or look realistically at divorce. There is dignity in making it work. And, there’s dignity in starting fresh for the right reasons. Take a look at Harville Hendrix or John Gottman's work on rehabilitating a marriage. For many, it can be done. Take an active role.
For some, divorce is necessary. But, for most, it should only be considered when all other options have been explored and exhausted. Have you done the work?
The Clear Headed Divorce:
The decision to divorce should be made with a sober headset, understanding that it will be a difficult process. A neutral therapist or kind ear can help. It's a big fork in the road.
Just know that like many things, divorce has a beginning, middle and end. Know that although divorce entails pain and grief, it often eases up over time.
Understand that a divorce can leave casualties behind. You need to make sure that your kids are okay because divorce can undermine their sense of stability and security. You also need to allow yourself to mourn appropriately, because you too have lost something precious.
Take Home Message:
If you're in an impossible marriage with kids: consider therapy. How did your relationship lose its specialness? Remember, the Field of Intimacy can do tricky things. What issues did you bring to the marriage? How about her? Perhaps you stopped communicating, leaving each other filled with resentment?
Does a betrayal hang over the marriage?
Then, breathe deeply and ask yourself if there's a bit of good will to work with. If so, you may want to throw down the gauntlet and demand change. You never know. I remember one woman who threatened to leave; it led to over twenty years of sobriety for her husband. Most successful cases are less dramatic. Couples get into therapy, start to enjoy each other again and begin to let go of past hurts.
With luck, time can heal.
Yet, some hurts are irrevocable. If divorce has to happen, grieve the loss, tend to your children with sensitivity and deal with your ex with dignity. Look realistically at everyone around you – including yourself.
Your children may need some counseling or treatment. It's a priority.
Despite divorce, your ex will likely continue to be an important relationship in your life; especially if you have children. He or she may be depressed, self centered or even narcissistic. And, sometimes, there's a need to protect yourself.
You don't want to over react or under react to an ex spouse. Both are hazards. Good psychological counseling can help keep you in a centered place.
Finally, for many, a spiritual practice and good friends can really help.
You didn't consciously choose to be in an unhappy marriage. But, you can choose to deal with it with dignity and intelligence. No one can tell you what to do. It may be a lonely place, but it's your place.
I wish good things for you, your spouse and your kids. Now, it's your life to live.