A Divorced Girl Smiling reader asks, “When is divorce the right answer?” Here is her email: I’m having a hard time with my decision to leave my husband for good even though it’s been almost 2 years. He came over to my apartment the other day crying and so upset because he wants us back together and I felt so bad, but I just don’t think I can because he has stolen so much of my self-esteem, my joy, my self-confidence, and my life.
I stuck it out with him for 21 years hating most of it because of his narcissistic traits. He has been in therapy these past two years and he swears up and down he’s totally changed and he’s upset that I don’t believe that he has. The problem is, I’ve left him twice before with promises that he changed, and he didn’t, plus we went to therapy for years without success. And yet, I feel so guilty hurting him.
He is like a grown-up little boy who can’t be on his own, but how is that my responsibility? He’s a good man deep down, but he is just so negative and depressed that you just never see that side of him. My issue now is I keep wondering if I’m doing the right thing by staying away and going through with the divorce. When is divorce the right answer? How can I make the right choice and move on either going through with the divorce or going back?
When is divorce the right answer?
Making the decision to divorce is not an easy one and so it makes sense that there would be questions circling around in your mind. At the end of the day, the only person who can know what is truly right for you, in your marriage and on your life journey, is you.
That being said, I would love to offer you words of wisdom and some tools to assist you in making this very big decision. I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge you for being so thoughtful in this process and reaching out for guidance. Taking the time to make this decision in a conscious way will allow you to move forward, no matter what you choose, with a sense of peace that might not otherwise be so.
When faced with a difficult decision, it is not uncommon to feel confused and as though you have different parts of yourself at war with one another. You probably notice that depending on the day, you can convince yourself that either decision is the correct one to make.
Although this can feel frustrating and impossible, it is actually an opportunity for you to tune in deeply and connect with the truth of who you are. It is an opportunity for you to align with and trust in your intuition so deeply and courageously that you will follow it wherever it leads you.
When is divorce the right answer?
Making this decision from the deepest part of yourself:
1. Your voice is the only voice that matters.
It can be tempting to seek out the opinions of friends and family, thinking it will help you in answering “When is divorce the right answer?” and make the “right” decision. Other people’s voices will only increase confusion though, and drown out the sound of your own voice even further. Now is actually the time for deep reflection and connection, so that you can tune into your own truth and inner guidance.
2. Prioritize your own feelings and needs
When overwhelmed with a difficult decision, it is common to get flooded with a spectrum of emotions and mistakenly react as an attempt to ease the discomfort that it creates. Instead, take the time to connect with and acknowledge your specific feelings, giving them a name and the space to be fully felt.
Allow these feelings to then communicate to you what it is you are needing and take actions to meet those needs for yourself. This is one of the most powerful tools taught by Katherine Woodward Thomas in the Conscious Uncoupling process, allowing you to create an internal safe space where your deepest truth can be heard.
3. Reflect honestly on the difficult questions
There are specific questions about the relationship that will help you to connect to your deeper truth and knowing. Having the courage to answer them honestly will provide clarity as you navigate through making your decision.
* Do you feel emotionally safe and supported in the relationship?
*Do you feel safe to be the fullest expression of who you are?
* Is this a relationship you would hope for your children?
*If this person were to never change, do you feel fully able to accept them for exactly who they are now?
It is courageous and empowering to make decisions from this place of deep intuitive connection and knowing. The answers lie within you, trust in yourself and allow your deeper truth to guide your way.
Jennifer Joy Butler is a love and relationship coach, a certified health coach, writer, and podcast host dedicated to helping people fall deeply in love with themselves and awaken to their internal power to create joy, love, and freedom in their lives. A graduate of New York University with a Masters Degree in Social Work, Jennifer is also a divorced single mom who has transformed her own life. Jennifer truly understands her clients and the journey they are on.
Great response Jennifer. We see so many times where a good person is involved in a long-term marriage where the other party continually states that he/she will change for the better in the marriage (ie. stop cheating, be there for their spouse or family, stop gambling, stop drug abuse, etc)… and because the good person truly loves their spouse they give them chance after chance after chance.
While we are HUGE proponents that no one should just leave their spouse withour first fighting for the marriage (outside of domestic abuse)… I also believe that the BEST predictor of future occurrences is the past.
If a person is unwilling to change time after time… the chances of them changing in the future are very low and at the end of the day, the lady who asked you the question needs to do what is right for herself.