To Stay or Leave a Struggling Marriage?
Today we live in an age that promotes self-awareness BUT when it comes to relationships, it fails to show us how to use our self-awareness to arrive at good decisions. Most of the advice we get makes our problems even worse.
There are literally millions of men and women ambivalent about whether to stay in or leave their marriage. If this is you, I will share why you MUST get out of limbo for the sake of your sanity, health and relationship.
We all feel doubts from time to time and occasionally speculate about what it would be like to be on our own or with a different person. That’s not ambivalence.
Ambivalence is when you switch and divert the bulk of your attention to wondering whether you should stay or leave your relationship, a constant evaluation of weighing everything up, forever analysing, often to the point of obsession.
THE DAMAGE OF STAYING AMBIVALENT
Emotionally – many report mood swings, depression, feeling lost and lonely. Others in my couple counselling have talked of the inability to focus properly and their irritability, where they easily explode.
Physically – individuals have shared with me they have poor sleep, tiredness, chronic stress, colds, sinus problems and stomach bugs; that never seem to shift. As well as back pain, neck ache and feeling weak.
You Become Trapped
The most damaging thing about the stuck state is that the longer you are in it, the harder it is to get out of it. This is because in order to be in it, you have to switch off, numb yourself to the relationship and life, so it can often feel like you are no longer living. Instead just getting through the day. You also may find that you engage more in mind-numbing activities or substances that prevent you from facing reality and making important decisions.
This is how ambivalence becomes a vicious cycle, desperately unhappy but not making a decision to make yourself happy, as you have shut down your feelings.
The Marriage Suffers
It is not only damaging to the individual, the marriage suffers greatly too. You can easily sense if someone is into you and the relationship, their body language and actions say it all.
Yet many husbands and wives don’t take into consideration, just how much they are killing the love, trust, respect and passion by blowing hot and cold, not committing to things and by doing something loving one minute and then the next taking it away. It not only causes confusion, heartache and pain, distrust builds and trust is essential in any relationship. Often the other spouse in reaction to their partners behaviour becomes ambivalent too, the problem gets even worse.
If on the other hand, you make a decision to
You free up energy, time and head space to work on saving the marriage and resolving any problems. You can get into actions that will make you feel happy, empowered and positive, rather than stuck in your own head analysing the negative. You will also show your spouse you respect, love and care enough to act. If you have children they will benefit from seeing a loving, giving relationship as opposed to noticing a tense or shut down one.
If leaving is an option and something you decide to do, you can use your mental power and energy to start creating a new life. As well as free your partner to be with someone that really wants to be with them. You will protect your friendship rather than let the relationship deteriorate so much that you end up hating each other. If you have children, not letting things escalate to the point you cannot stand each other will benefit them. Children need parents that can co-parent effectively as friends if they separate.
THE DECISION CANNOT BE TAKEN LIGHTLY IT INVOLVES ASSESSMENT BUT NOT USING THE FOLLOWING:
DAMAGING WAYS WE ATTEMPT TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM
The way we get taught in society to deal with marriage ambivalence simply doesn’t work and can actually become part of the problem!
We are advised
1, Distract yourself – don’t think about it
This is terrible advice because it’s impossible to do! How can a person not think about something so important to them. It won’t go away if you “try” not to think about it. All that happens is people get stuck “trying” to distract themselves where they engage in OVER sleeping, eating, spending, exercising, drinking or working to escapee but all they do is keep the problem longer.
2, Weigh up the Pro’s and Con’s – think about it
This doesn’t work either! It’s an exhausting, positive energy sucking exercise, that actually becomes the problem. Why?
- Focusing on all the negative aspects of the relationship and person over time creates more negativism and hostility in the relationship and in someone’s life. Causing them to stay stuck. I always say in couples counselling – negativity does not lead to clarity.
- You cannot ever accurately compare a known “staying in the relationship” with an unknown “leaving the relationship” as you have no clue about the future. So an attempt at pro’s and con’s is FUTILE.
- You have no measurement of weighing up the list of pro’s and con’s, how can you determine what weighting and value to give to your item on the list? We are dealing with feelings, experiences, interactions NOT facts and figures.
3, Time will tell
People are often also told “time will tell” in fact in couples counselling make share that they have been hoping time would heal or things would get better. What a myth! It’s the only action taken within time that counts. I know people who have waited 10, 20 and even 40 years for “time” to give them an answer, where they stayed stuck unable to move forward with their relationship and life one way or the other.
Imagine the scenario of a flat tyre, if you got a flat tyre you wouldn’t pull up a chair and wait for air and life to be sucked back into it , would you? No that would be ridiculous…
You would either get to work yourself to mend the tyre and see if it is fixable or call someone to fix it. Where you would first assess on your own or with an expert, is this fixable? If it is great you can carry on with your journey and if it is not you replace it with a new one so again you can begin a new journey.
This is what I do with those ambivalent, it takes an assessment in individual or couples counselling and action. Waiting is damaging to the relationship, friendship and health.
What can you do if you are unsure whether to stay or leave your marriage?
STOP – thinking, over analysing intellectualizing… all you will do is drive yourself crazy!
ADDRESS your fears, concerns, worries, doubts, that keep you paralyzed with procrastination
START – sensing, feeling, using your intuition, noticing how your body reacts
ACT – start moving in a direction, to feel love, forgive others and let go of past hurt and fear we need to act
If you are struggling with this then I invite you to download my free QUIZ can my marriage be saved here https://training.nicolabeer.com/official-marriage-assessment/
From my heart to yours, Nicola
Founder of the Save My Marriage Program – an alternative to marriage counseling
& Pure Peace Coaching – for Parents looking to help their children through Divorce
Contact or find out more about me at www.nicolabeer.com
P.S Staying ambivalent deprives you of happiness, freedom, intimacy and hope. Instead you feel frustrated, annoyed and lonely. Individual or couples counselling can help you make the right decision. I would NEVER advise a couple to separate or get divorced, the decision has to come from you when you are ready. Make sure if you do work with a marriage counselor that also won’t inflict their opinion on to you.
To get support take the FREE QUIZ Can My Marriage Be Saved? individuals and couples have shared with me in couples counselling that it has been a life changing quiz – a life changing assessment to know if their marriage can be saved. https://training.nicolabeer.com/official-marriage-assessment/