Struggling with the decision to end a marriage? There are questions to ask before throwing in the towel. Break out the mirror and get ready to be truthful.
Last year, I read an enlightening book by Mira Kirshenbaum called I Love You But I Don’t Trust You. I wanted to introduce it to our two-person book club, but Husband #2 wasn’t interested. I just dove in on my own and I’m very happy I decided to read it.
Chapter 3 deals with the over-arching question: should I try to mend this relationship? Why agonize over regaining trust if you still wouldn’t be happy with your partner? I think we all struggle with that fuzzy area, regardless of the type of problems we’re having with our spouse. Ms. Kirshenbaum poses six questions to help solidify uncertain thoughts.
- Would you want this relationship if the trust could be restored?
- Does the fact that this betrayal happened ruin everything for you?
- Can you imagine the possibility of forgiveness?
- Does the person you mistrust care about how you feel?
- Can the other person work on the relationship with you?
- What do you have to lose by giving the relationship a chance?
If you’ve gone through a big betrayal, like infidelity or a big lie, the hardest part is pushing through the temporary feelings to get to a place not so raw… so angry. Forgiveness may be the farthest thing from your mind, but you have to transcend the rage for a moment.
Small betrayals, just as damaging, add up over time and undermine the safety of the relationship in the same way that a large betrayal does. You just don’t have a big “A-ha! I caught you!” moment to circle on the calendar. Instead, there’s a general feeling of “this person doesn’t have my back.”
My 2014 started out with both.
I had a big betrayal come to light, and years of small betrayals where I felt “less than” in our relationship. Was it worth saving? Here are the answers I wrote down when I initially read the book.
- Would you want this relationship if the trust could be restored? Yes, I would. I’m adult enough to know that no marriage is perfect and conflict is inevitable. There is plenty of good in this marriage to give it a try.
- Does the fact that this betrayal happened ruin everything for you? Right now, Husband #2 is the M&M after the 5 second rule (you’ll have to read the book to get this reference). I still see him as good-willed and not intentionally hurtful. He still has the same molecules.
- Can you imagine the possibility of forgiveness? Yes, I can. I want to let go of the past hurts.
- Does the person you mistrust care about how you feel? He seems to, although I’m not sure if his apologies are a way to manage me or if they are sincere. The way to tell is to give him an opportunity to show that he wants to change hurtful behaviors going forward. And I would answer that I want to change hurtful behaviors from my side. I do care about his feelings.
- Can the other person work on the relationship with you? I’m not sure. Husband #2 seems to believe that the way to fix things is to just float along and see what happens. Not exactly “work”, more like drifting.
- What do you have to lose by giving the relationship a chance? We’re at rock bottom. We can’t get any more broken. I can give my full effort until the end of the year and see about #4 and #5. At least I’ll have no question that I gave things Olympic athlete dedication. Hope Springs – “Is this the best I can do?”
This week, I broke out the book and my mirror. I was correct with my initial analysis of Questions #4 and #5. It was a year’s worth of time but I’m able to honestly say that I gave 2014 and mending our relationship my very best efforts.