5 Things Divorce Will Never Save You From
Make sure you know what you’re doing before you make a decision you can’t undo.
Are you feeling frustrated, unsatisfied, and even turned off by your spouse?
Your expectations about how things “should be” feel shattered, communication sucks, and “fixing things” feels dumped squarely on your shoulders. You’re bored in your relationship, wondering why you ever married this person. Thoughts of leaving and finding a new, entirely different relationship fill your mind and feel so exciting.
Yes, divorce will give you the ability to end this marriage and start a new relationship. But, before you make a choice you can’t undo, make sure you know the 5 things divorce will not save you from:
1. Developing healthy communication skills.
Communicating well with another person isn’t easy. It requires presence. Truly paying attention to the other person and hearing (on a heart level) what they are really saying. It involves reading between the lines, stepping into their world and understanding why they see things the way they do. Recognizing how your perspectives differ and working to improve effective communication skills so that mutual trust and connection doesn’t erode.
Run all you want from this relationship, but your old communication habits will likely follow you into your next relationship—unless you make a conscious decision to build new and better habits of expressing yourself and listening to others.
2. Your martyr complex.
“Everything is always up to me.” This is one of the complaints that keeps recurring in your story. You feel taken advantage of and have probably felt this way in other relationships—at work, in your extended family, in community organizations, in child-related activities.
Is it really that way? Maybe. But don’t you control your own choices? Including whether or not you say “no” and honor your own needs and boundaries?
Unless you make an effort to change that story (and that behavior) all future relationships will play out the same way. And, divorce will only ingrain that feeling deeper.
3. Feeling overwhelmed.
Divorce doesn’t make anything easier. It actually requires that you take on more roles—roles you used to divide up in your household. Even if your spouse hired someone to do the tasks they were responsible for, they took the responsibility for getting it done or paid someone to do it for them.
You won’t be able to complain about the other person not doing their job because now everything is entirely up to you—from generating the household income to organizing your children’s school and social schedules, in addition to taking care of the household basics of food, shelter, and basic safety needs.
4. Being bored by the relationship.
When we look at our partners as objects—like vehicles who exist soley to meet our needs, or as obstacles to what we want—we don’t really see them as human beings with wants and needs of their own. How do you feel when someone uses you for their own ends and pays no attention to you until they want something?
After the honeymoon wears off and you settle into a routine, it’s easy to see the other person as you believe they are. Think they are boring, lifeless, with no interests? They will be. You choose not to see them any other way. Being treated like that by you then makes them push away from you, and so the cycle of negative interactions goes.
Recognize and own the impact you have on how your partner treats you based on how you perceive them. You’ve taught them to treat you exactly as they do by your reactions, attitudes, and behavior. And you’ll do the same in your next relationship, as well.
5. Your unhappiness.
Many people see “freeing” themselves from their current relationship as the answer. Yet, divorce rates are much higher for second and third marriages for a number of reasons.
Mainly, because you bring the same habits to the new marriage that made you unhappy in the first marriage. You thought that changing your partner would change the outcome, and now you’re disappointed again. New partner, same pattern. Same unhappiness.
Because it turns out, you contributed to the demise of your relationship (the one you’re in, and any in the future) beyond the often expressed fear that you just can’t make good choices.
Slow down, take time and reflect on what you must learn about yourself in this relationship.
Identify how that plays out with your current partner and in your other relationships, and then focus on building more productive habits.
Those habits start with the raw material of “you” and how you relate to yourself—loving your strengths and acknowledging your shortcomings—and allowing you to be you and your partner to be who they are.
Listen, divorce may very well be the right answer, but before you jump ship, take time to look in the mirror and see whether any of these 5 things might be worth paying a little attention to:
Having more realistic expectations about the work required for a relationship to meet the expectations of both parties.
Improving your ability to fully communicate, taking interest in what your partner says and why they are saying it.
Shifting your story of how things are, especially when you complain about your partner and relationship over and over.
Treating others as human beings instead of objects who owe you something, so that real connection occurs.
Being responsible for your own happiness.
Ask trusted friends or a personal coach for feedback and really sit with and internalize what you learn. Let their feedback help you define some small tweaks that you need to make before you think of moving on to the next chapter or a new relationship.
Love yourself enough to prioritize learning skills that build a better relationship, whether you stay in this one or move on.
*Used by permission from CDC Certified Divorce Coach® Pegotty Cooper and Randall R. Cooper