Is it really over? This is the critical question that every person asks him or herself when facing the possibility of divorce.
For some, the question may have already been answered by their spouse. Without their input, their husband or wife may have already left or asked for a divorce. There’s not much you can do at that point but go along with the flow all the way to court because once one partner has jumped ship, there’s little hope of resurrecting the marriage.
What about the rest of us who find ourselves trapped somewhere in the middle in a miserable marriage…we don’t know whether it will ever get any better than what it is now…we feel hopeless, loveless, depressed, and like there’s nothing left to live for.
Is it really over?
How do you really know?
I have no doubt the answer to this question will be different for each person. Each of us has our personal expectations and limits of what we need and what we are willing to take. No one but you and your spouse knows what it is to live your marriage. Some details of your marriage experience are too personal for anyone else to know or be able to weigh in on.
These are some important points for you to consider when you reach the point of questioning your marriage’s survival. Think them over, talk about them, even run them past your spouse, if you think it will help. These are some of the critical talking and thinking points to know how far gone your situation is and to determine how much more you can take.
Where are you at on the “love” question? Do you still love your spouse? Are you still in love with them, do you simply care about what happens to them, or are you to the point of contempt for their existence? By the time my ex and I went to marriage counseling, my answer to this question was that I no longer loved him. For the sake of my children I cared about what happened to him and I felt a connection to him because we shared children. Otherwise, too much had happened between us and the love between us had withered away.
What is your time like when you have to be together? Do you still enjoy one another’s company, is it non-stop fighting, or is the atmosphere on the chilly side? You may have some hope left if you are still able to laugh, communicate, and be comfortable in each other’s presence. Perhaps, you have some other issues that just need to be ironed out with some counseling or other interventions to help you communicate better or get on the same page.
I knew my relationship was beyond hope when my drive home from work on Fridays reduced me to tears. Friends have told me that my whole demeanor changed on Fridays as I faced the fact that I had an entire weekend ahead of me when I would have to share two full days in the same house with my ex. At least during the work week I had the escape of eight hours per day away from our home and with co-workers for social support. At home it was just him and I 24/7 with no escape, and it was torture! I knew I wouldn’t survive this much longer!
What does the thought of physical contact do to you? Do you have the desire to hold or touch your spouse? Would you still be interested in sexual intimacy with them? Does the thought of being close to your spouse make you fearful or make you physically ill? How do you think they would answer the same question?If you are still inclined to seek physical closeness with your spouse, chances are that you still feel a connection or some level of love for them.
If your attempts at closeness meet an icy reception, your spouse may not feel the same; but, maybe you have something to work with. Intimacy follows emotional closeness for most people; so, understand that touch or even sex may not be possible or successful until conflict and other issues within the marriage are addressed.
Trust, and respect are critical components to make one feel comfortable enough to allow another in to their personal space. A few can still manage to maintain sex even when they can barely stand each other in other aspects of life. I was so bogged down in feeling betrayed and disrespected by my ex that I was literally repulsed by him. I would have preferred the option to walk blindfolded across six lanes of traffic before sharing a bed with him or letting him touch me. This was one critical way I assessed the health of my marriage.
Does mutual respect still reside in your home? Do you care about what your spouse has to say? Are you willing to act and make decisions for their benefit? Are you able to speak kindly to one another? If you find that you are more likely to hurl insults than trade peaceful dialog, you are in trouble. If you no longer find it natural to consider their feelings and best interest and are certain they feel the same, then at a minimum you have your work cut out for you. It may be possible to cut through to the source of anger and other ill feelings, which is a necessary step to restoring respect; but, both of you will have to be committed to that process.
Are you both willing to work on it? I’ve been in that position where marriage counseling was about the only hope of rescuing the marriage only to be told that he was unwilling to go. I was able to conclude from his decision that there was nothing more that could be done for our marriage because it couldn’t be a matter of only one of us caring or putting in any effort.
A favorite saying of mine is that marriage is not 50/50, but rather each spouse giving 100% effort. One spouse cannot save the marriage all on their own. I’m not saying it will always be an easy sell to pull out of a funk and start believing it can be successful again. At the lowest points one souse may need to carry more of the load; but, if you have already thrown in the towel where your marriage is concerned or you don’t see your spouse even breaking a sweat, this is serious!