Ever since I started blogging about divorce, I’ve naturally had more conversations surrounding the topic than ever before. What I didn’t know though, was just how many people my age are unhappy in their marriages and looking to talk to someone else who understands. I am in no position to tell anyone what to do with their life or relationship, but I am happy to listen, be a support system and share my own personal experiences.
I’ve received so many messages and calls since I started publicly blogging about my divorce. Writing and blogging has always been therapeutic to me, and Live Lean is truly just a place where I can compile all of my passions into one spot and share it with the world. It means so much more to me when connections are made and people are reading my site and able to find comfort and peace in knowing that they are not alone.
I am not shocked to hear that many people are miserable and secretly suffering in their marriages. At this stage in life that many of my friends and readers are in (mid-thirties to forties, young children, got married early, dealing with a LOT going on in the world right now ) it’s not uncommon to hear about people feeling lost and unhappy. I hear many similar stories across the board from a variety of different people.
You have a choice…
I’m finding that many people have been so unhappy for so long, it’s not until they are inspired by something to come to the realization of, “Wait, what, I don’t have to be unhappy forever?” You have to have your own wake up call of saying out loud that you aren’t happy and you need something to change.
First and foremost, if you are in an abusive relationship, then my answer is yes, you need to seriously consider divorce. Especially if you have children. For their future mental and emotional health and what they view as a healthy relationship. However many people don’t even know where to pinpoint when the unhappiness began. They are so caught up in the day-to-day of work, raising children, activities + sports, keeping up with the housework, trying to maintain their own health and personal lives and so on and so forth that they are just going through the motions. If you have been married for a long time, it’s hard to figure out if you are just in a really long rut, or if you have truly outgrown one another and need to part ways. But how do you decide whether to pull the trigger and get divorced?? What if you make the wrong decision?? The million dollar question…
As we all know, relationships ebb and flow. No relationship is perfect, whether you are married or not. Every couple has good seasons and bad seasons. First of all, if you have never done any sort of couples therapy, I highly recommend it. My ex-husband and I did couples therapy for a year. Did therapy work for us? Well, no, we didn’t stay married, but I do believe that yes, it worked for us individually and subsequently we have a functional, peaceful relationship in divorce. I realized SO much about myself, my childhood, my upbringing and my environment that makes me react in certain ways to situations. I learned why I think and behave in some of the ways that I do. I also learned a lot about my ex. It was so eye opening and as soon as I started therapy, I wished more than anything that we had started therapy YEARS ago. We didn’t start until the year before we got divorced. In a lot of places, especially in my experience in Indiana in the Midwest, therapy has a very negative connotation. You don’t have to go to therapy just when things go wrong! I encourage all of you, whether you are single or not, to find a therapist and work on yourself! You spend so much time training your body and muscles to workout and exercise, so why not train your brain? If you don’t work on thinking and exploring your thoughts and behaviors, then you are doing yourself a disservice.
If you and your significant other have spent an adequate amount of time actively working on your relationship ( i.e: therapy, making changes to your behavior and your relationship), then the next step is to decide what to do. That is truly the hardest decision to make. How do you do it?
How do you decide what to do? What makes you happy?
If the bad starts to outweigh the good, then you have a lot of soul searching to do. What does that mean? That means getting to know yourself and doing a lot of personal work. Are you putting your own happiness first and working on elevating yourself as an individual and not just as a spouse, parent, student, employee or a friend? What are you doing to get to know what brings you happiness and joy and what brings you peace? For me, it was easy during COVID and quarantine to take that time. Life had slowed down and I spent a ton of time by myself. I took long walks, bike rides, runs, and did yoga. I journaled, writing pros and cons lists to have an objective approach and I thought a lot to myself. I think it is better to think for yourself and use some outside trusted sources for support (such as someone who has been through what you’re going through, a therapist, a mentor, etc).
Are kids influencing your decision?
Another question I like to ask people is, “If you and your spouse had your exact same lives, same jobs, but didn’t have children, would you still be together?” Every single person I have spoken to who is struggling and I have asked that question to, immediately has said, “No way! If we didn’t have kids we would have gotten divorced a long time ago!” I think your answer to that question speaks volumes. What kind of role model do you want to be to your children? Do you want to show them what true happiness and love is? You don’t have to stay married just because you have kids. One of my friends told me her parents waited until she and her siblings all went to college and then they got divorced. She told me they all knew their parents were miserable for years and just wished they had divorced earlier. Kids are way smarter than you think, and it’s not fair for them to be in a home that is tense and full of fighting and arguments.
Is convenience a factor?
Sure, it’s convenient to stay married when you have kids. Who doesn’t want to have another person to split all of the housework, cooking, cleaning, homework help, and carpooling with? A lot of people stay married out of convenience and it works for them. If you’re happy in a domestic partnership with your spouse, then good for you! However, if you find yourself desperately wanting to share the type of love you know you deserve to have with someone, then you know that is your cue to do exactly that. Remember, the harder choice usually isn’t the easy one.
Divorce sucks. It’s messy. It’s stressful. I mean, who wants to split up every asset and belonging? Who wants to divide up furniture and special collections? Who wants to move out of their house? Who wants to only see their children half of the time? I get it. Trust me. I didn’t want ANY of that stuff. I didn’t want to essentially start my life over at age 37, but I knew that my heart wasn’t in my marriage any more and that it was time to part ways.
Worrying about what others think
Aside from the kids, the other biggest fear for people is worrying about what others will think. How will you break it to your kids? What about your parents and family? Or your best friends. What will everyone think? If you are making a decision this big that should be about you and your happiness, then you certainly shouldn’t be worried about how other people will react. Sure, it’s heartbreaking and sad, especially when families and friends are a huge part of your life, but that’s the thing – it is YOUR life. You cannot make a decision based on the fear of how others will react. They don’t have to live in your marriage on a day to day basis. If they truly love you and support you, your friends and family should want you to do what makes you happy.
Will the kids be OK?
Kids are extremely resilient and a lot smarter than most adults give them credit for. I will write an entire separate post on children and divorce and breaking the news to them. It’s an emotional topic and one that I spent a lot of time researching before I went through it, but I am happy to share my experience. It’s scary to think that your time with your children could be split in half or less, but I truly believe it comes down to your attitude and what you choose to do with your new situation. Less time with my kids, means that I am more focused and present when I am with them. Being with them all the time, I can assure you that I was spending a lot of that time multitasking, on my phone and taking some of that time for granted. Now that my time with my daughters is so precious, I make sure to make it count. I have had more special 1:1 moments and intimate conversations with my kids since being divorced. There is also comfort in knowing that my kids aren’t in a tense, hostile environment anymore. There is peace and happiness and they don’t have to feel stressed or worried about anything.
Will I have regrets?
If you’ve taken the time and measures to make a decision based on facts and not emotion, then my advice is to live for the moment. You shouldn’t spend time worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet. If you do, then you’re just going to be worrying and stressing out twice: once before it happens, then again when/if it does happen. That’s something I try to remind myself when I start to worry about something I can’t control. One of my dear friends gave me that piece of advice not too long ago. There’s also no rules that say if you decided to get divorced or separate, you can’t find your way back together again down the road. There’s also no rule saying that if you decided to go all in on your marriage one last time, that you can’t decide in a year to get divorced. There are absolutely no rules! Don’t let society norms control your thoughts. You have to do what is best for you. You have to be the best version of yourself. Making a decision one way or the other is going to feel way better than staying in limbo.
Will I have regrets?
If you’ve taken the time and measures to make a decision based on facts and not emotion, then my advice is to live for the moment. You shouldn’t spend time worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet. If you do, then you’re just going to be worrying and stressing out twice: once before it happens, then again when/if it does happen. That’s something I try to remind myself when I start to worry about something I can’t control. One of my dear friends gave me that piece of advice not too long ago. There’s also no rules that say if you decided to get divorced or separate, you can’t find your way back together again down the road. There’s also no rule saying that if you decided to go all in on your marriage one last time, that you can’t decide in a year to get divorced. There are absolutely no rules! Don’t let society norms control your thoughts. You have to do what is best for you. You have to be the best version of yourself. Making a decision one or the other is going to feel way better than staying in limbo.
Things to Consider:
Have you truly worked on your relationship and implemented change?
What makes you happy when it’s just you and your spouse? What makes you happy when you’re by yourself?
Are you staying together only because of the kids?
Are you making your decision based on what others will think or how others will react?
Are you making your decision because starting over seems too stressful or you’re scared of the unknown?
Are you worried about things you can control or things you cannot control?
Do you think you deserve happiness?