So you’ve been married 10, 15, or 20 plus years. Your lives are entangled with children, pets, mortgages, investments, checking accounts, friends, social status and much more. Suddenly you wake up and realize you’ve lost yourself somewhere along the way. Do you stay married or do you start over?
This is a tough situation to handle. Where there once was love, romance, excitement and promise, there is now contempt, intolerance and possibly even hate. Who changed? Who didn’t? Why didn’t you notice? Did he notice? Do your children see it?
Your moral code will probably tell you to stay in the marriage and make it work. However, there are a few things that need to be considered.
- Have you talked with your spouse about your feelings?
Communication is a key ingredient to a happy and successful marriage. When was the last time you had a heart to heart? If you haven’t tried yet, what are you waiting for? Problems don’t resolve themselves without your effort and input. A marriage, or any relationship for that matter, takes work.
- Do you still love each other?
If yes, then fall back on the first bullet. If no, at what point did you fall out of love and become roommates? Is it salvageable? If so, get counseling or take a vacation together. Do whatever it takes. If not, don’t waste time being unhappy. Seek legal advice and find out your options. Life is for living, not simply existing.
- Is your relationship abusive in any way?
(This topic could be an article all by itself, so for now I’ll provide information to get help.)
If you even hesitate in answering this one, it’s time to leave. Verbal, emotional and/or physical abuses are all grounds for divorce and criminal charges. If you are being mistreated or abused, leave. You wouldn’t allow your child, mother, sister or friend to remain in such a situation. Get out! Contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or for more information, go to www.domestic violence.org. In an extreme emergency, call 911. Get help now.
- Is the trust gone?
Have you caught him cheating, lying, or worse? No amount of talking can change this behavior. Dishonesty is a sign of disrespect. You deserve better. The first time is a mistake. The second time is a habit. Find an attorney and determine your options.
- Are you staying together for the sake of the kids?
The kids are smart. They know what is going on. This is no picnic for them either. If you can’t work it out, it’s time to leave. Do it, for the sake of the kids. They will grow up and mirror your behavior in your relationship. Show them that everyone deserves to be treated with love, respect and honesty.
- Are you staying due to fear?
Starting over is definitely not easy, but it is worth it to discover yourself again. Staying in a marriage out of the fear of being alone or starting over is unhealthy at best. If you have reached the point of no return, don’t look back. Do what you need to do to get back on your feet and happy again. If this means counseling and more time with your spouse, then do it. If it means divorce, then do it. Life is short and there are no rewinds and do-overs.
Spending your life trying to always please others is not living. Once you find happiness within, you’ll find that you naturally find happiness all around you.
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