If you’re desperately wondering how to escape an unhappy marriage, your life has become intolerable. That’s because feeling miserable in your marriage colors your entire world and sucks the joy out of nearly everything.
You know there is a better way to live because things used to be better. But now all you can think about is escaping the misery. And the place to start planning your escape route is with understanding why you are so unhappy in your marriage.
Maybe your spouse consistently treats you with a lack of respect. Maybe you and your spouse have poor or nonexistent communication about anything other than the bare necessities of making things in your household work. Maybe your spouse completely ignores your needs for connection. Maybe there’s something else going on in your life that you don’t want to deal with. Or maybe your situation is even more dire, and your spouse is abusive to either you or your children.
To succeed in escaping your unhappy marriage, you must get crystal clear about exactly why you’re so unhappy in it. The time you take to reflect on the core cause of your unhappiness is critical to you gaining clarity and confidence about your next steps. It will also allow you to move forward without regret.
Before you conclude that the only way you can escape your miserable marriage is by divorcing, you need to know that getting divorced isn’t easy. It’s one of the most difficult life transitions you and your entire family can go through. And you must consider the repercussions of divorce carefully before choosing it as your escape route.
That being stated, there are still three times when divorce is the immediate and best answer for resolving an unhappy marriage:
1. Your spouse is an active addict and refuses to seek help despite your repeated requests that s/he do so.
2. Your spouse is abusing you or your children. (Learn more about what abuse is.)
3. You and your spouse are providing an abysmal example for your children of what a marriage is, and you are unable to make things better despite your best efforts.
If you’re not dealing with one of these three situations, divorce is not the first escape route to consider. Depending on your situation, there are other paths for you to examine first.
1. There’s something else going on in a different part of your life that spills over into your marriage.
Consider the possibility that you could be stressed about work, your parents, your in-laws, finances, your kids, a life event, or anything else that’s important to you. It can be way too easy to conclude that your spouse is the cause of your unhappiness if they aren’t actively trying to help you feel better.
If your unhappiness originates outside of your marriage, then work to resolve those issues. As you do, you’ll discover that you’ll have more energy to talk with your spouse about the problems in your marriage that led you to believe it was the cause of your discontent.
And when you and your spouse can work together to resolve the issues that became prominent while you were struggling with something outside of the marriage, you will have escaped your unhappy union.
2. It truly is your relationship with your spouse that’s making you unhappy.
The truth here is that it takes two people to make a relationship work and two people who participate in it not working. So, it’s time for you to get serious about how you’re contributing to your unhappiness.
Some of the ways you might be adding to your relationship woes include ignoring issues instead of addressing them when they occur, choosing not to talk with your spouse because it’s “not worth the effort”, not respecting your spouse, or your spouse doesn’t satisfy your needs because you don’t tell him/her what they are.
It’s only when you get serious about being the best spouse you know how to be that you’ll know whether your marriage can make it. And being the best spouse doesn’t mean you become an automaton or Stepford wife. It means that you bring your best you to your relationship.
By being the best you, you just may find that your spouse responds in kind and that your marriage ceases being a source of unhappiness.
3. You’ve done everything possible, things just aren’t working, and you’re still feeling wretched.
Doing your best to resolve things before choosing divorce as your path to freedom from your unhappy marriage is important. The effort wasn’t wasted.
By giving your all to attempt to resolve things (or discovering that you’re unwilling to give your all), you’ll gain the clarity to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that divorce is the best decision for you and your family.
The other benefit of this clarity it that you will be able to more easily proceed with divorce from a standpoint of respect and compassion for yourself and your spouse. This doesn’t mean that divorce will be easy for you. However, it does mean that you’ll be more able to handle what happens as a result of ending your marriage.
Escaping an unhappy marriage isn’t a quick and easy thing. However, by understanding the true nature of your unhappiness first, you can make the best decision about how to finally find the freedom and happiness you crave and deserve.
Originally published on Dr.KarenFinn.com
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(via The Good Men Project)