And now, that love seems like such a distant memory. You find yourself wondering if it was ever real or was it a figment of your romantic imagination. Here in reality, life is not all roses and rainbows and you can’t help but think…is this as good as its ever going to get? Do I really have to stay here forever or is there a way out?
While it might be enticing to jump ship in search of bigger, better, and greener pastures. you need to, at the very least, ask yourself these these three questions before closing a door you may never be able to reopen.
Can I Count on My Partner?
This question might be difficult to answer in an absolute. Your partner is human and as such, makes mistakes and missteps. When answering this question I want you to think about several different areas in your life where your partner has the opportunity to be there for you:
- Help with chores and the kids
- Support or solutions after a bad day
- Acknowledging your spoken requests
- Help with finances (providing money and/or figuring out where to put the money)
- Making you laugh
- Protection (emotional or physical)
Your partner probably will not meet your expectations in all of these areas. However, as you search, you may find an unexpected area where you can count on him/her. I’m not suggesting that you should stay in your marriage only for the children or for financial reasons. What I am suggesting is that you take all that your partner does into account and give credit where credit is due. You may find that by acknowledging the ways you CAN count on your partner, you may reignite a spark (even if it’s just a small one) that might give you a reason to stay.
Am I Expecting My Partner to Make me Happy?
It is a normal human desire to want happiness in your life and to want to share your happiness with your partner. Sharing happiness and engaging in acts of kindness to bring happiness to others is a good thing. Depending on someone else to bring you happiness or to make you happy is a dangerous thing. If you have fallen into the trap of putting the responsibility of your happiness onto your partner your partner (and you) will fail – increasing the likelihood for divorce. Take responsibility of your own happiness and work towards sharing happiness with your partner. When you take ownership of your own happiness you will likely set clear boundaries and engage in honest communication about your needs.
Have I Asked for Help?
As you contemplate divorce you think to yourself, “I have tried EVERYTHING to make this marriage work”. Have you really…have you asked for help inside and outside of your marriage? Before a good marriage ends in divorce there are warning signs that point the way. Talking openly with your partner or seeking the help of a professional can assist you in working through the warning signs instead of falling victim to them.
Help From a Professional
Asking for help from a professional can be an anxiety producing step and one that is usually taken when the marriage is on its last leg. Therefore, thinking of marriage counseling in terms of the medical profession can be beneficial. It is more helpful to catch an infection in the early stages and to see the treatment all the way to the end (finish the entire bottle of antibiotics) than to wait until you are in the hospital, expecting those same antibiotics to help. Marriage counseling is a specialty and when you actively and completely commit to it, it can provide you tools to vastly improve your relationship. Like antibiotics, marriage counseling is best utilized sooner rather than later and you are encouraged to complete your treatment even after symptoms subside.
Help From Your Partner
Often times in relationships we expect our partners to know exactly what to do and how best to help us. We expect this without ever actually asking for specific help. It can make a huge difference to ask, “Can you cook dinner on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays?” as opposed to “I wish you would help out with dinner every once in awhile.” Being specific when asking for help identifies the precise need or want you are hoping to get met. This provides your partner with better intel when making the decision to meet your need or not. Your partner knowingly deciding not to meet your needs tells you a lot more about the state of your relationship than your partner unknowingly not meeting your needs.
As a marriage and family therapist, I tend to be optimistic about the benefits of healing a marriage. With that said, I am not naive to the fact that divorce happens and that some relationships are damaged beyond repair. I don’t know what your answers to these questions will be. My hope is that by answering them in a genuine and honest way you will gain the insight you need to know whether it is right for you to walk away or work to heal your relationship.
About the Author
Amber Groves is a Marriage and Family Therapist and infertility specialist at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. She helps couples, families and children to have the calm and peaceful life they want in their relationship and family. In her spare time, she is the mother of one busy toddler and a sweet little baby.