Sometimes I hear from people who are not sure in which direction they want to take their marriage. Often, on the one hand, they realize that things have gone wrong. They often wonder if things are so bad that nothing they say or do will make a difference. And a small part of them wonder if they will be happier staying married or if things would improve if they just left. This is a tough decision, as you don’t know what to expect when venturing out on your own. Will you be alone and less happy alone? Or will it be a relief to let it go?
I recently heard from a wife who said, “For the past six months, I have been growing further and further away from my husband. Our marriage had been struggling for some time. I did not intend or consciously decide that we should start living separate lives. It just happened. I started hanging out with my friends more. I became active on Facebook. I started staying up late after work and socializing. And I’m discovering that there is a part of me that is embracing my new one. However, the other day, my husband saw that someone had tagged a photo of me with my friends on Facebook. My husband saw it and it really hurt. He sat me down and asked if I wanted to get out of our marriage. I didn’t know how to respond. My husband is very direct about wanting save our marriage. But I’m not sure if I feel the same way. I can’t help but notice how much I’m enjoying the little freedom I’ve begun to demand. But at the same time, every time I think In ending my marriage, I begin to flood with memories of when we were happy. I miss those times. Sometimes I still have feelings of love for my husband. But when I think of saving my marriage, I think of the end of my new life and I tear myself apart. So how do I know what I really feel? How can I know for sure if I want to save my marriage? “
In fact, I hear from many people who have mixed feelings about saving their marriages. Sometimes these conflicting feelings are due, at least in part, to their conceptions of the process of saving their marriage (and these conceptions often turn out to be false) the marriage or more content alone. While I can’t answer these questions for you, I can give you a few things to think about, which I’ll do next.
The fact that you have had some mixed thoughts about saving your marriage can be important: I have to tell you that people who have ended their marriage decisively and healthy generally do not have this kind of indecision. For many people, it is completely obvious and clear that their marriage is over and that although they did everything they could to save it, they have now reached the end of the game. Usually they are quite at peace with this decision because they know they made it through until there were no more paths to follow.
Because there is not so much confusion, there is often not much anger, jealousy, or sadness either. It is a fairly straightforward process when you are sure that your marriage has come to a natural end.
But, if you haven’t gotten to this point yet, you might want to wonder why. Do you still have feelings of love for your spouse that you just can’t turn off? Are you worried that you haven’t tried everything you could to save him yet, including counseling, being honest with yourself, or saying the things you want to say without fear of rejection? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then perhaps exploring these topics will give you peace of mind.
My general rule of thumb is that if you are not sure that your marriage is over, it probably is not. Because if you were in the final phase of your marriage, you would probably know it. But the questions generally mean that there are some issues that you have not yet achieved closure on. And sometimes addressing those same issues could transform or save your marriage.
Examine the ideas you have about saving your marriage and ask yourself if they could be wrong: Many people who are not sure if they want to save their marriage have some of the doubts that they are experiencing because they are reluctant to the reconciliation process or to save the marriage.
If you asked these people to describe what saving their marriage would entail, they will often tell you that they are afraid of having to undergo painful counseling, embarrassing conversations, or concessions so unfair that they strip away their individuality and ideals. None of these things have to be true. The wife in this situation was so afraid that saving her marriage meant that she had to give up her new happiness and social life. It certainly did not. She could continue to see her friends on her own if she wanted, as long as she also made time for her husband. And there was always the option to include it. Frankly, having your own life, your own friends, and your own hobbies can improve your marriage because you walk into it as a happier, more complete person.
If this perception prevents you from trying to save your marriage, ask yourself if the process would be worth seeing for yourself rather than assuming the worst case scenario. You may be pleasantly surprised. Many people tell me that they are glad that they took a chance and did not give up on their marriage. Because they actually found out that saving him ended up being the right option for them because they are happier than they suspected and the process turned out not to be as difficult as they feared.