Marriage is hard. Long-term relationships are hard too. I experienced the slow disintegration of my marriage and I’ve been privy to a few other marriage-in-flames stories, stories where the plane is going down and the relationship won’t survive, although it may flame out slowly. It seems the route of choice is often years of hellish tension with barely tolerated tolerance followed by a parachute jump once the kids have de-planed.
Sometimes it’s better if things end
I used to lie in bed and wonder if I could stay married for another forty years – until one of us died, or even ten years until the kids were out of the house. He used to pull into our garage after work and sit there dreading entering the house. — First One Over the Wall: What It’s Really Like to End a Marriage and Start Over,
My own experience was a slow flame-out but we couldn’t wait until the kids left home. It got to the point where our misery affected them too much. As I mentioned in, First One Over the Wall: What It’s Really Like to End a Marriage and Start Over, minimal conflict between parents is the best gift children can receive whether their parents are divorced or married. In our case, the conflict was not outright fighting but sad tension in the air.
I personally felt I could not be true to myself and stay married. I would have had to give in on too many of my priorities and values to have harmony in our family. Toward the end of our marriage, I figured out I was an introvert and needed solitude and down time, not the cookie-cutter life. I also found a group of sensitive intuitive individuals whose company made me feel at ease and at home, a feeling I hadn’t felt in a long time. I longed for that kind of connection at home but my traditional, seemingly extroverted, by-the-book husband could not figure out how to reach me.
I felt guilty for not loving him the way I should.
We tolerated our differences but did not enjoy or especially appreciate them. Instead of seeing what it was like in each other’s shoes, we just kept pushing our own agendas. My husband and I could not move from I’m right and you’re wrong to understanding.
We felt bad about ourselves when we were together.
As a relationship coach and personal divorce participant, I truly wish for relationships to work out if possible. I believe if differences are appreciated, honored, learned from and even laughed about, and not resented, couples can live the majority of the time in contentment.
But, I know sometimes relationships inhibit personal growth and create unhealthy environments for everyone involved. Sometimes the conflict between two people, ruins two people. Each partner is so stressed and beaten down their personal lights flicker and those in their circles witness two emotionally exhausted and defeated spirits.
There is a point when the relationship is not win-win. Someone has to give up too much of themselves to stay in the relationship, so they leave it.
It may feel like a failure or a tragedy when your marriage/relationship ends. You may have a deep fear of being alone. Even introverts don’t like the thought of being alone all the time.
It will be painful but it will be the beginning to a potentially more fulfilling life. Your family will be re-organized but it will not disappear.
How to make the divorce process easier
There are ways to make the transition through divorce easier. My recommendations are:
- To find a collaborative mediator to decrease the conflict of the actual legal, financial and familial dissolution.
- Take time to figure out the lessons learned in the relationship. How did you contribute to the struggle? What could you have done differently?
- Do not move on to another relationship too quickly. Take time to get perspective and understanding.
- Let the healing begin and even allow yourself to see how the strife and breakup served you. Yes, that’s right. You can benefit from this experience. Did it teach you how to communicate better? Do you have more compassion for others in similar situations? Are you more open and vulnerable with your kids now?
Saving the marriage or letting it go?
If your heart and mind are weighed down every day because your relationship feels hopeless or hurtful, consider getting realistic about your marriage’s chances of survival. Is there potential to make it work? Is it better to prepare for the crash? If you need help with this process I’d love to guide you.
One important step is to see conflict as not all bad. It is necessary in a real relationship. Real relationships are about personal growth and becoming whole. If we partner with someone exactly like us, we will not grow. If we don’t appreciate our partner’s differences, we will not grow. Another secret to relationship healing is to look at yourself first when it comes to change and getting out of victim mode. I have many more recommendations for moving from hopeless to hopeful.
If there truly is no reconciliation, know that is OK. Not all relationships are meant to be forever. Take wisdom from the experience and move on. Take care of yourself in the process and for everyone’s benefit, do your best to minimize conflict between you and your former spouse.
I survived and grew through my own divorce enough to enter into another healthier long-term relationship. You can too. I’ve written over 20 pieces about self-actualizing post-divorce. Check out, Divorced Introvert:Evolving Not Dissolving Post Breakup to see how families can thrive after a marriage ends.
Are you willing and able to put the effort in to work through gridlock in your marriage? Is your relationship over but you’re afraid to move on?
I can guide you through the actual breakup or divorce process from support during legal proceedings to creating a healthy parenting plan. I am trained in family mediation and parenting time expedition. And I can be there afterwards when the dust settles and life is uncertain, but not over.