When it’s too Good to Leave and too Bad to Stay

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I was married the first time for 13-years, counting the year while we were not living together and undergoing divorce proceedings. The year before my ex-husband left me, I had planned to leave him. I must add that it really is not important who actually made the move to walk out the door. We were both equally responsible for our parts of the destruction of our relationship. One person is incapable of single-handedly destroying a relationship.

The year before we actually split, I had even gone to see an attorney. She was a cut-throat bulldog of a lawyer, who wanted me to hire her to go for his balls. I left her office feeling sick to my stomach. I did not want to do it that way, even then. I only went to see her because someone I worked with suggested her to me, just to see what my options were.

The truth is that when friends overhear that a marriage isn’t in on the best footing, the jump on the bandwagon. How sad. What people should do is offer a bit of encouragement, but unfortunately that isn’t the way most of society works. I think we should consciously make a choice on an individual basics to change that one situation at a time, whether you feel that someone happens to be a good fit for your friend or not. I personally feel that unless someone is in physical duress or their children are in physical or emotional danger, we should be supportive of what our friend actually wants or needs. Sometimes the best thing to do for someone is to simply hold up a mirror for them, which was what we both needed at the time.

A few days after I met with the attorney, my ex figured out that something was wrong and confronted me. He accused me of having an affair. For the first time in 10 years, I felt heard. I explained what had driven me to the point of making the appointment behind his back. I explained why I had agonized over the decision. The bottom line was that there were months of happiness, peeks even. I loved my family. I loved the idea of my family. I loved having pancakes on Sundays, and the security of my husband being next to me in the middle of the night. He worked very long hours, which I knew when I married him, and I chose to marry him anyway. This meant I was virtually a single mom a lot of the time, and I knew that before the girls were born. Knowing something as a possibility and knowing it once you experience it are two entirely different things, especially when you are experiencing it as a new mom. When we first moved to Nebraska, my parents did not yet live here. The nights and weekends that he worked long hours were difficult and lonely. There were times that I cried myself to sleep wishing that he would just once choose me first, just once put me before work, put me before everything else, but that was not a fair expectation on my part. As the years went on, the valleys became vaster than the peaks. I finally made the appointment with the lawyer.

Once he heard how I felt, he made an effort. I was given another year with him. One year later, he left me. A bit ironic when I think about it now. We both tried for those first few months after my appointment, but then we stopped trying again. Neither person in a couple can ever stop trying or the relationship WILL fail.

How do you know when it’s the right time? I think the only way you can truly know is by listening to yourself. Ask yourself some serious questions, possibly see a therapist, and do some serious soul-searching. The divorce path is never an easy one, not even in the best scenarios. Staying in a miserable relationship is also a difficult path to stay on, especially with children, and a pattern which they will learn to repeat.

Here are some questions to ask yourself that I came up with:

  • Are your needs being met in the relationship?
  • Do you feel loved by your spouse on an emotional level?
  • Do you feel loved by your spouse on a physical level?
  • Do you and your spouse make each other laugh?
  • Do you enjoy spending time with your spouse or has it started to feel more like a job?
  • Do you avoid your spouse?
  • Do you remember the last time you kissed your spouse passionately?
  • Have you had a recent date with your spouse?
  • Do you and your souse have a hard time discussing topics outside of the children or work?

If you had a hard time with any of these questions, it does not mean it’s time to leave, and I am NOT an expert by no means. It could be a red flag that it’s time to see a therapist or to make your marriage a priority. If you wait you could be headed toward divorce. Only you know the answer of whether your marriage is worth salvaging.

Trish Eklund is taking a nontraditional approach to parenting children after divorce and remarriage. Raising her two daughters of ten and fourteen with her husband, ex-husband, and his wife, they consult one another on all parenting decisions. Trish has been featured on www.playground-magazine.com, and www.bigblendedfamily.com. She is a regular writer on www.herviewfromhome.com, writer and co-editor for Her View From Omaha. Follow her on Twitter: @trishiewriter, Google +, and Pinterest.

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