As I visualize taking the leap of faith into the world of divorce, I hold a vision of taking a leap out of an airplane without a parachute.
It is in choosing to leave the ‘comfort’ normally associated with the world of marriage, that we take a leap into the unknown, especially if this leap was initiated by us. It is one of the biggest decisions we will make, the previous one being deciding to marry in the first place.
It is not just leaving a marriage that is the issue, it is what is underneath this decision that can be problematic, since we develop a sense of blame for what we are about to subject our family through. This keeps us glancing over at the grass on the other side of the fence, stepping on it at times and jumping straight back to our side of the fence. It is just far safer to experience the known however horrendous it might be because at least we know what we are getting.
The unknown however is uncharted and unknown territory, this for us has a negative connotation, so we stay stuck for months and often years in the status quo.
I know a number of women who hop tirelessly from yes to no, fearing the final decision and knowing deep down that initiating divorce will have repercussions on the children, the extended family, the finances and so on and so forth. Is it any wonder that even before we have made a call to the divorce lawyer, we are already feeling overwhelmed with the enormity of our decision? Is it any wonder then that we skip from one decision to the next on a moment to moment basis?
When pondering the unknown, we view with trepidation the world of the Divorcee and the prospect of being the only single woman at social and community functions. The hosts of the event in their insensitivity sitting us next to a collection of smug looking couples, the wives observing like a hawk, should you, God forbid, decide to speak a little too long with their husbands. Is it any wonder that we mull over the decision to end the marriage five times as long as we did over the decision to marry our husband in the first place.
It is important to look at the marriage objectively, calmly and carefully as there are times when an experienced couples therapist can allow you both to have space to talk through the issues in the relationship, reflecting on what brought you together in the first place and what currently drives a wedge through it.
In my therapy practice, I have worked with a number of couples who were experiencing extreme difficulty in their relationships for a number of different reasons. I found that the one common element that made them both smile simultaneously during our sessions, even in the midst of arguments, was the love they had for their children, this melted their hearts as it did mine.
Sometimes however there is nothing to save, no children to drool over and no common goals, interests, love or intimacy, the difficulty however is how to let go, and more importantly when to let go and accept that we made a mistake. And even more crucial that we can change our mind about the marriage.
The fact is that staying in a marriage or leaving is a very personal decision and only you know how terrible or workable your situation is. There is a tremendous amount of fear that is associated with taking the leap into the unknown and this is perfectly understandable. The fact is that there is a time in our lives when we need to acknowledge the truth about our marriage and at times we need to accept that part of loving someone is deciding to let them go, or loving them enough to stay and make it work.
No one will tell you that it is an easy ride and in fact, I would not wish the end of my marriage on my worst enemy. It was beyond excruciating and incredibly unsettling for all of us, however my teenage daughters learned that their mother was willing to lose all material aspects of life in addition to her status in the community to gain a sense of self respect and self worth. I took a step out of my victim-hood and took charge of my life instead and there was a freedom in doing so.
In fact a strong sense of freedom was felt throughout those long difficult years of walking out on my marriage and everything that I had built up. I no longer needed to be the ‘Stepford wife.’ It took a number of years to do so, but when the time was right, I walked away with what was important to me – my daughters, my dog, a few suitcases with precious family items and some clothes.
The simplicity was precious and from this place I began to rebuild. I had watched people rebuild after tsunamis and earthquakes, this was my own personal ‘life-quake’ and I would rebuild brick by brick from a healthier more wholesome place.
Essentially, the grass is by no means greener on the other side, it is just a different color altogether and rising up within the grass shoots, a number of flowers have blossomed which had previously been denied sunlight or the core conditions to blossom to its full potential.
To stay or not to stay, the known versus the unknown, that is your question.