I hear it so often from people in what they consider to be a bad marriage…”when do I quit, when do I stop beating my head against the wall and accept that it is over?”
It is a question I ask my self on many occasions during my marriage. I had made a commitment; I was to stay for “better or worse.” I felt it my obligation to do whatever I could to not break the vows I had made. So obligated that I was giving up who I was and becoming someone I didn’t like.
So, when people ask me, “when is it time to quit” I tell them if the person they are becoming is someone they don’t like, they need to get out of the marriage. If you are in a marriage that requires you to:
- put aside goals you have set for yourself,
- isolates you from friends and family,
- limits what you are allowed to do for entertainment,
- change your belief system,
- constantly nag to get what you want and need,
- make excuses for your spouse’s behavior,
- feel as if you have to walk on eggshells,
- live in fear of abuse,
- let go of who you are as an individual,
- worry constantly over the problems in the marriage,
- question yourself over and over again about why you are still there,
It is time to give up if you find yourself consumed with worry over the problems in your marriage even though you have done all you know you can do to try and solve those problems. When the problems in your marriage consume most of your energy, you are wasting energy and should move on.
Here is the problem most people have to deal with when deciding whether to divorce or not. That old belief that we should be able to fix the problems. We spend time and energy and give up who we are and what we want in hopes of making the marriage work. What is easily forgotten is that it takes two to make a marriage work. We only have control over one party to the marriage…ourselves.
If you are married to an alcoholic, you can’t make him/her stop drinking. If you are married to an adulterer, you can’t make him/her stop seeing the other man/other woman. If you are married to a spouse who abuses you the abuse is not going to stop until they deal with their own issues. It is out of your control.
You have to change what you are comfortable changing about yourself. Make all the adjustments you feel you should and once you have done that, you’ve done all you have any control over. It is normal to think or hope that you might find just the right words to get through to your spouse. Magical words that will cause the light bulb to come on and change him/her into the very person you need him/her to be. It is unhealthy to give up yourself in hopes of changing another human being.
There is also the waiting game we play. We think once we can get into counseling things will change, or once he stops drinking or leaves the other man/other woman we can make this marriage work. The problem with the waiting game is that you may end up waiting a lifetime.
The waiting game keeps you from living in the hear and now. It keeps you from dealing with and seeing the reality of your situation. What if, 25 years from now you are still waiting, still giving up who you are and what you want? Can you honestly say that you will like the person you will become while waiting for someone else to meet your needs?
If your marriage is keeping you from being someone you like, if it is keeping you from getting all you want out of life, if you are doing all the work while your spouse ignores the problems in the marriage and the toll it is taking on you why would you want to stay?
You have the opportunity to live life as you chose. You have the opportunity to live a life that gives you joy, peace of mind and emotional fulfillment. Making the choice to let go of a marriage that you know is unhealthy is really, really hard. You may find that it is an opportunity to finally become someone you really like.