You married the partner of your dreams. You promised to love each other forever, and the two of you have made a life together. The years have passed, the reality of marriage has set in, and now it seems that the fairytale is over. Now, you’re not so sure that getting married was the best decision, and you’re wondering if maybe this whole marriage thing was a mistake. Maybe it just isn’t for you. And you start to think: should we stay together or end the marriage?
We’ve all been there. Every married person has had this doubt at one time or another. And if someone tells you they haven’t, it’s a lie. Unfortunately, social norms dictate that we should never doubt our marriage, no matter what. This expectation makes the reality of this very moment in your life particularly difficult. Why are you feeling this way when nobody else is? As you question your marriage, your sanity, and every other life decision you’ve ever made, there is one important thing to consider: Why are you staying? Are you staying in your marriage out of want or need?
Reasons for Divorce
Divorce is definitely more common today, than, say, 100 years ago. Some people believe that the rise in divorces is a sign of society’s decline. Others believe it’s because people now understand that marriage should be fulfilling for both people involved. For Karen Rinaldi, author of the article “What is a Man For?” recently published in the New York Times, divorce came when her husband became infected with HIV and admitted to having extramarital affairs with other men. The fear of contracting the virus herself became too much, and the two divorced. However, they did remain friends until his final days.
Ask yourself: would you want to stay in this kind of marriage? Has your partner cheated on you or broken your trust? Are you staying because you can’t afford rent on your own place? That’s staying out of need, not want.
Pressure to Stay Married
Marriage is a hot topic in many cultures around the world. Many people believe it is a lifelong institution that should never be broken. Others disagree. Maybe you’re not sure. But, you do know that you have a house together, maybe kids together. You have financial issues, maybe you feel protected in your marriage, maybe your spouse earns more money. The list goes on and on. Guess what? Nothing on that list is a reason to stay in a marriage. In fact, these are some of the worst reasons for staying in a bad marriage, writes Susan Peace.
Don’t feel pressured to stay in a marriage out of need, out of fear, or simply because it would be too complicated to leave. Living your life according to other people’s expectations is a recipe for unhappiness.
Wanting Your Marriage
You should stay in your marriage only if it’s out of want. Telling your partner “I love you” out of reflex, while thinking to yourself that you don’t – that isn’t fair. Let’s be honest, that isn’t fair to you or to your spouse. But, if you say those words and still mean it – there’s still hope.
So, what are the things that make you want your marriage? Looking forward to seeing your partner in the morning, wondering if they’ve eaten a healthy lunch today, struggling through the downturns of life together, and sharing the mundane tasks of living together – these are some of the signs that you do want your marriage. But, there is one sign that you want to stay in your marriage that somehow rises above all the others. It is knowing that you could just as easily do this life thing on your own, yet choosing not to, because you have found the person that you want to share it with.
|||^||Karen Rinaldi: What Is A Man For|
|||^||Susan Peace, LCSW, CADC: Top Misguided Reasons to Stay in a Bad Marriage|