I received this e-mail from a guy who is thinking of separating from his wife of 10 years.
I’ve been married for the past 10 years and have been together with the same person for 14 years. We have a beautiful little girl who will be five at the end of May and I’m in this relationship for her.
We’ve been in therapy for the past six weeks and I’m running out of resources. Our friends believe I’m rushing decisions to separate. I’ve been trying to work on our marriage for the last two years.
I’ve changed a lot of who I am, saw a Primary care physician who said nothing was wrong with me but to change my attitude, he put me on an anti depressant (which I’m now off of). Marriage is no question undoubtedly hard; but, how do you bridge the conversation of dissolution when the other partner isn’t ready to call it quits?
I feel as if I’ve given it my all, and that I wanted change months/years ago; yet, we continued to just drift apart. I’m not looking for anyone to provide me with direction and a definitive answer yes or no; but I am looking for a road map and for someone to acknowledge that my daughter and I will be ok if I decide to separate.
I’m also concerned about my daughter. In the back of my head, I believe she will lead a healthy and successful life with two parents who love her but no longer love each other. My dilemma is I have a friend who constantly projects her feelings of her parents divorce back on me as if my daughter will grow up a terror. Any wisdom would be greatly appreciated.
My gut reaction to reading your e-mail is that you really want someone to tell you it’s okay to leave. You want that validation/rationale/permission, and who better to get it from than the divorced girl smiling, right? Wrong.
Here’s the thing. I totally get you. Like anyone who has gone through a divorce, I understand where you are coming from. It’s the hardest decision you might ever have to make in your life. It’s gut wrenching. On one hand, you don’t want to hurt anyone, but you might be feeling like life is short, why do I have to live unhappily? I still have a chance to find true love. Right?
I wish I could tell you that separating is the right thing. I also wish I could tell you that separating is the wrong thing. But there is no way I can tell you what the right decision is. You are the only one who knows that.
You are asking me if you will be okay if you separate. Of course you will be okay. You will also be okay if you stay.
I bet the guilt is killing you. I also bet you are scared of making the wrong decision. It sounds a little to me as if you’ve already checked out of your marriage. And I have usually found that when one person does that, it almost always ends in divorce. But, I could be wrong.
So, the little advice I can give you on this subject is a piece of advice I give A LOT to others who have said to me, “I’m thinking of separating.”
Here is what I say to them:
“If you want a divorce because you think you can do better, in other words, you think you can meet someone who you will have a better life with, then you should really think about this more, and possibly try to work on the marriage.”
On a side note, six weeks of therapy is not a lot. That’s just scratching the surface, and I say that in a good way. It might seem hard to believe, but when couples really make the effort, a lot of times they can fall back in love and get to where they were pre-problems. Wouldn’t that be nice?! You may say yes or no. If you are saying no, you’re checked out.
Continuing what I say to people thinking of separating:
“If you are getting a divorce because you absolutely cannot live with this person anymore, i.e. they are abusive or addicted to something or cheating, that’s another story. If someone said to you, ‘You will be alone forever and never find love again after your divorce,’ would you still want to be divorced? That’s the question you have to ask yourself. If your answer is, “oh, then I’ll stay married,” then you are not ready to separate.” When you separate, you have to be okay with being alone.
Regarding your little girl, the question of whether she will or will not be fine if you get divorced can only be answered during and after the divorce. It depends on how you and your ex handle the co-parenting aspect of the divorce, what kind of relationship you have, how you treat each other, what you say about each other, and a million other mistakes you either do or don’t make when it comes to divorce. AND, you only have control over YOUR part in how you act. So much is out of your control.
I wish you all the best in your decision because I know how tortured you must feel.
When it comes to friends and family, consider their opinions and what they have to say, but don’t let them influence your decision.
Whether you separate or not has to come from you. The words in your head, and the feelings in your heart and in your gut.