There is no doubt that leaving a marriage, or a long-term relationship, can be a gut-wrenching decision. Often, women spend months or years contemplating the end of a marriage, not wanting to admit defeat or accept that something isn’t “fixable.”
Many women leave a marriage after a long period of discontent usually due to making repeated requests for changes that either aren’t initiated or sustained. It is as if they are crashing upon the same shore, living a perpetual groundhog’s day. Eventually, leaving becomes the only choice.
Regardless of the circumstances, most women struggle with making the leap and facing a new reality. It, for certain, includes a loss of identity and an uprooting of what was familiar with potentially having less money and more often the lion’s share of raising children.
When women get scared, we start to rationalize and discount our truth. I had a lot of stories I told myself when I was contemplating ending my marriage.
“It’s not that bad, other women have it worse.”
This statement is used a lot by women who are afraid that life might be worse on the other side. Yes, other women may have it worse, but when we bypass our own feelings, we aren’t acknowledging that something inside us is hurting and it needs us to pay attention. Comparing yourself to someone else’s pain is futile. Your partner might not be an awful human, but he also may not be providing you what you need to thrive.
“All marriages or relationships have ups and downs. This is what marriage is, right?”
Marriages do have ups and downs, but things between you should progress forward, giving you and your partner opportunities to grow. If you are repeating the same battles over and over with no change, it’s more likely an ending, not an opportunity for growth.
Now, it goes without saying that double checking your math is good! Before I let my marriage go, I left no stone unturned. After all, I had spent twenty years being married and we had two daughters. We went to counseling, were assigned books to read, and, on the surface, he made it seem like he was trying. But I knew he didn’t want a different life; he wanted things to stay the same. His actions revealed to me that his heart wasn’t into it, and while it wasn’t his conscious choice to end our marriage, everything in how he approached our counseling showed me he was done; he just didn’t want anything to be his fault.
“I will disappoint my children, my family, my husband, my friends, and people in our community.”
Yes, not everyone is going to understand, and some people will be disappointed because they liked who they thought you were. You are changing on people, and that makes everyone uncomfortable. Allow people to have their emotions and feelings about your choices, and realize it has absolutely nothing to do with you. Disappointing yourself is far worse!
“Getting divorced is hard on children, and I should stay for the sake of them.”
Children don’t like uncertainty, but they are incredibly adaptable. They do much better when taken out of a household that is contentious, unsettled, and unhappy. When women are confident about their choices, reassure the children that they didn’t do anything wrong and get the right kind of support. My daughters witnessed my growth and now they are happy, confident, and have healthy relationships. Your healing becomes their healing.
“I don’t know if I will have enough money. What if I can’t do it on my own?
Money fears and financial challenges are the number one reason why women don’t leave unhappy marriages. I had been a stay-at-home mom for fifteen years and was scared to go out on my own and start over. But I did it. The growth I experienced by believing in myself led me to opportunities and jobs that not only paid for my basic bills but eventually led me to contributing significantly to my children’s college expenses. I can’t tell you how validating it was when I bought my first home by myself.
Knowing that you may lose everything about the life you once valued is hard. Feel into the sadness, grief, anger, and loss because that is where the amazing lessons are. Losses demand acceptance and can’t be circumvented. You just have to walk through the fire, jump off the cliff into the unknown, and realize you will feel uncomfortable.
But if you embrace yourself and get the right kind of support, life will eventually send you new opportunities, new partners, and new ways to grow and change.
I would never have known this if I hadn’t decided I was worth it.