One of my Facebook friends recently posted an article that essentially said if your partner/spouse isn’t looking deeply into your eyes while painting your toenails and declaring that you’re his soulmate, then you need to move on. I couldn’t help but laugh. It was all I could do not to comment, “And we wonder why the divorce rate in the United States is 50%.”
Sadly, too many people believe this pile of crap. They don’t want to acknowledge that marriage can be hard, hard work. That sometimes your partner will disappoint you or aggravate you or do something really bad or dumb, but you stay anyway. You stay not because you’re a sucker or an enabler or have low self-esteem. You stay because this relationship isn’t just about you. It’s about both of you and, more importantly if you have children together, it’s about them. The family unit trumps your individual needs almost every time.
This is not to say you should remain in a physically and/or emotionally abusive situation or tolerate chronic infidelity. If this is happening, please get help, stat. Let me just be clear that your spouse not saying “I love you” daily or asking about your work day or cleaning the bathroom doesn’t constitute abuse.
If you read my blog, you know that I sometimes disclose personal details about my marriage, especially as it relates to my husband’s job issues. I do this not to throw him under the bus, but because, well, this blog is about the truth, and the truth is that he’s having a midlife career crisis – big time. Sometimes his shenanigans make me feel so crazy and hopeless that I want to leave. I tell myself that life would be easier and more peaceful without him.
My life, that is. Not his necessarily, or our sons’.
I’ve been threatening the “D” word on and off for a while now. I’m ashamed to admit it, but there you have it, the truth on the table. As in, “If you don’t find a better paying job and stick with it, I’m leaving” or “If you use the charge card one more time I’m leaving” and “If you don’t start seeing a therapist I’m leaving.” I think you get the drift. By now he knows I’m the girl who cries wolf. During the most stressful times, divorce seems like it could be a fairly easy escape, if you don’t count my children being torn in two, our cozy home sold, and the remains of our family scattered around like dried up leaves in autumn.
It finally occurred to me recently that I had a decision to make – stay or go. Simple as that. No more idle threats; they are pointless and immature. As I imagined what it would be like to leave my husband of nearly 22 years, uproot my children, decide who gets the sectional sofa, a question popped into my mind like an epiphany.
What if leaving wasn’t an option? What if I had no choice but to adhere to my marital vows? How would I approach this frustrating situation then?
The answer came to me immediately. I would love him, support him, and do my best to build him up, knowing that he’s in crisis and doesn’t have the skills to cope alone. I am his life partner, his helpmate, and it’s my role to support him through the tough times. What kind of wife, woman, would I be if I just walked away and discarded him like an old sock in his hour of need? He would never treat me in such a shabby way.
What if leaving wasn’t an option? How would you go about resolving the issue if the status quo also weren’t an option? What creative approaches might you try?
We can’t change anyone. We can only change ourselves. The notion is truly empowering, especially when it places us in a position to have a positive and even soul-saving impact on those we love. There is almost always someone stronger in the marriage at any given time. If that person is you, try not to view it as a burden, but rather recognize it as a great gift you’ve been given, one of strength, compassion, and the ability to problem solve.