Finding the courage to end your marriage, or relationship as you know it, is one of the hardest decisions many people find themselves Googling answers for.
In the separation and divorce professional world, we find ourselves entering into Divorce Week and Divorce Month. January is one of the busiest times of the year. A lawyer I was speaking to today said ‘We have a new ad up and it’s getting more hits than the last few months’.
The reality is, these questions of ‘should I stay or leave’, ‘not another year of things not getting better’, ‘how do you know the marriage is over’, ‘am I doing the right thing?’ have been running around your mind for quite a while.
No one wakes up one day and says ‘I want a divorce’ out of the blue. Well, it might, if you haven’t been paying attention and ok, yes, some people do get blindsided, but I think you get what I am saying.
In fact, the lead time for an actual separation happening is on average 9 months.
Resentment has been building, there’s constant criticising of each other, one or both of you has shut down emotionally, you haven’t had sex in months or years, maybe there’s sex, but there’s zero passion. Things are not good. You’d rather be out with your girlfriends and more happy when he’s out with his mates or home late from work.
‘We will just get through Christmas, then we can tell the kids and they can get used to it over the school break’ is what a few of my clients have said over the years. One last Christmas together as the family you know it.
One of the hardest stages to get to is ‘acceptance’ of it actually happening. You can Google away, and then once you start talking about it, it suddenly becomes more real. First though, you have to find the courage to have ‘that conversation’.
I can clearly remember back to the night my marriage ‘officially’ ended nearly 7 years ago. Hindsight is such a wonderful thing and knowing what I know now….I guess is why I do what I do. And boy have I learnt a lot from my mistakes too.
WHY IS IT SO HARD?
Mostly it’s our fear that holds us back, from anything we don’t want to do. Fear of failure, fear of what others will think, fear of the future. Then list any emotion like shame, guilt, doubt, rejection, hurt, anger, sadness. Worried about loss – ‘my other half’, money, the house. What about the little people? Am I being a ‘the bad guy’?
Are you making the right decision?
Denial is a safe place to be too. Acting like things are OK on the surface for everyone else, and then sleeping in separate beds, barely talking to each other or making eye contact.
And no doubt there’s a million other questions and concerns going on. Even, ‘who’s going to love me now?’
HOW YOU HANDLE THE SEPARATION HAS A MASSIVE IMPACT ON YOUR ON GOING RELATIONSHIP
Could you imagine, that just say you did wake up one morning, look at your partner and say ‘I want a divorce’, which to them, feels ‘out of the blue’. How do you think they would react? Not good right, well a hell of a lot of shock. Even if it’s not so abrupt and extreme like that, it did happen to one of my recent clients.
Even if it’s not such a shock like that, and I really hope it is not, the thought of having ‘that’ conversation keeps many people stuck. Staying in a relationship that is over too long can cause extra stress, you wont sleep and then there’s a chance you can get sick – depression, anxiety or other illness. Staying in a toxic and emotionally abusive relationship can be soul destroying.
People then tend to hurt one another, because it’s like this silent conversation with your inner bad girl ‘If I hurt them, then surely they will want to leave’.
HURTING PEOPLE, HURT PEOPLE
Two hurt people trying to have one of the most important conversations of their lives is a recipe for disaster and then add in tired, angry and sad people. Saying things that cant be un-heard. Doing things that cant be un-done.
So, how do you find the middle ground and have ‘that’ conversation? You decide to have respect for each other, the marriage and your children. Because whether you love that person or not, they are the other parent and that is what matters. You are still going to be in each other’s lives. Your children need that.
TIPS ON HOW TO HAVE ‘THAT’ CONVERSATION
- ADULTS ONLY – Make sure your little people are NOT in the house or due to come home
- EMOTIONS – Don’t let them run the show. Easier said than done once/if things get heated
- WORDS – No blame, no shame and show respect, kindness and compassion. Start with I feel….
- TIMING – Don’t have this conversation late at night when you are both tired. Don’t have it go on and on for hours
- ALCOHOL FREE – Maybe you need a glass of wine for ‘dutch courage’ and definitely be sober
Then, allow the other person their ‘reaction’ and yes, it most likely will be that. Unless you’ve both had some professional help before and worked on the emotions and fears. Or you’ve taken my ‘Courage To Leave’ Course…..
Know this, if you initiate ‘that’ conversation, you aren’t ‘the bad guy’, you aren’t ‘the one who broke the family’ and there is no shame, there is no failure. We weren’t taught ‘how to do relationships’ in high school. Most of us have had some patterns in our past that may have lead to this, or not. Maybe this relationship has reached it’s expiry date.
When two people are happy and thriving in a relationship, it doesn’t end, so there is a reason this has to happen. You can choose to see this as an opportunity for a fresh start, or not. So long as you keep the conflict away from your little people, they will be OK.
You both also don’t need to end up hating each other. You can take responsibility for your part in the relationship ending and accept that this is not a ‘for better or worse’ situation. Be OK if there is more relief than grief too. This is happening. Breathe. You will be OK.
If you are reading this, thinking about going through a separation or know someone who is, then share this with them. Let them know about my ‘Courage To Leave’ course. I was suffering from anxiety and depression when my marriage ended. I know there can be hard days, but it does get easier and life does go on. Trust me on that 😉
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