The marriage message of the day is five things to consider when you want to give up. Have you been there before, where you want to give up on your marriage? Maybe you're there now. I've been there. I've been in seasons in my marriage where I wanted to give up, I wanted a divorce, I wanted to throw in the towel. I wanted to stop trying because I was exhausted. I know how that feels and it's a horrible place to be. If you’ve experienced domestic violence you need to get a restraining order and a separation ASAP. Also, if you’ve experienced infidelity and your partner won’t stop contact with their new lover you need to get a separation. This post focuses on times when you feel hopeless in your marriage beyond domestic violence and infidelity. I'm going to go through five things to consider when you’re wondering “Is my marriage over?”
Is My Marriage Over? Take 5 Steps
When we're in a marriage slump, a lot of times we're flooded, our heart rate is elevated, we're in fight or flight, and we’re probably panicking because we feel hopeless. You don't want to make any decisions about your relationship when you're in that state. You want to wait at least a month before making any major decisions on if you really should give up on your relationship. When we’re flooded, we’re in a fog and can’t think straight. So, the first thing to consider when you want to give up is wait because you may wake up the next day and feel something different. So, wait.
The second thing is talk with trusted friends about what you're feeling in your marriage, especially friends who are pro marriage, and get their feedback. A lot of times we have tunnel vision and we lose objectivity because we're in the chaos ourselves. So, we all need one or two close pro-marriage friends that we can talk to and say, “What do you think is going on? Do you think I should get a divorce?” When I went through slumps in my marriage, I had two close male friends that I was able to reach out to and say, “Hey, this is what's going on. Is my marriage over?” Each time they said, “that sounds really hard what you're going through, and I think you guys need to make some changes, but don't give up.” Those words helped me not give up. So, don't rely on your own decision making because you have a biased view, you’re exhausted, you’re fatigued, and you’re not thinking clearly. You need objective outsiders to help you see straight. So, reach out for support from close friends who are pro marriage.
The third thing to consider is zoom out for progress. Sometimes we get so hyper focused on the negatives with our partner, we forget to zoom out for the overall progress. Zoom out and consider the past few months to few years and think about where there has been progress. Perhaps your partner has actually improved but you’ve lost perspective because of a recent setback in the relationship.
The fourth thing to consider is see a therapist. If you want to give up on your marriage, see a therapist. When my wife and I were going through hard times in our relationship, it was hard for me to see a marriage counselor because I am one! I had to swallow my pride and realize I cannot be a marriage therapist for my own marriage because I'm not objective and my wife doesn’t see me as a therapist, she seems me as her partner who has strengths and weaknesses. So, we finally saw a marriage therapist and went through several until we found one we really liked and then we saw them for a while to work through several impasses in our relationship. So, seek out a marriage therapist wherever you live and be prepared to see several because each one will have their own style, strengths, and insights. Also, be prepared to work with one for several months to several years because it takes substantial time to untie all the knots that have probably accumulated in your relationship. You see a dentist for your teeth, a mechanic for your car, and a plumber for your toilet so see a marriage therapist for your marriage.
The fifth thing to consider when you're wondering if your marriage is over and if you should get a divorce is your partner’s attitude. If your partner has hurt your feelings or not met your needs, how do they respond? Are they defensive and hostile and refuse to see a therapist? If they are then you probably need a separation because they aren’t teachable. However, if they are willing to take ownership for their part and willing to see a marriage therapist, then they are teachable and there’s hope. You should not leave your partner if they are teachable and willing to work on themselves and the marriage. Now, just because they’re teachable doesn’t mean they are going to be perfect at executing the changes you desire because perhaps the changes rub up against their earlier attachment wounds or childhood abuse. So, they may not be the best at executing the changes you desire because that may take a while. But if their heart is in the right place, if they're willing to change, if they're willing to look at their part, if they're willing to see a therapist, then give them another chance.
So, if you're in a marriage slump or if you get into one in the future and you want to give up, remember these five things. First, wait, because you're probably in fight or flight. Second, talk with trusted friends who are pro marriage to get their perspective. Third, zoom out to look for progress over the past few months to years. Fourth, see a therapist for an extended period of time. And fifth, check for your partner's attitude. If they're open and teachable, hang in there and keep working on your marriage.
Leave a comment below on what else people should consider when wondering "is my marriage over?" or "should I get a divorce?"