Are you considering, when is the right time to leave my marriage? It is such a difficult question. The consequences are life-changing and scary. It’s not something you decide overnight. It’s usually something you have contemplated for years, weighing up the pros and cons. Researchers say the person who is choosing to leave the relationship has typically thought about it for up to two years. The greatest struggle of all is when you should be happy, and you aren’t. People looking in think you have a great life, but no one knows what goes on behind closed doors.
It’s not like you wake up one-morning thinking, I’m out of here. These feelings have most probably kept you awake at night.
To leave takes a lot of courage. And research has shown up to five years to get back on your feet financially. So it’s not something to be decided lightly.
I personally struggled with the decision for years. I had fallen out of love with my ex-husband and felt very unhappy. I didn’t dare to leave. Looking back now, the reasons that kept me in that relationship seemed massive at the time. My children, not letting others down, and I ultimately did not want to hurt him. He was a nice person.
When we marry our other halves, we do so with hopes, dreams and aspirations of a glorious future and hope it will last forever. So to say to someone you once loved, ‘I don’t love you anymore.’ ‘This relationship is over’ or ‘ I’m leaving’ is life-changing for everyone involved. The words don’t come easy. It’s not something that anyone does without a whole lot of soul-searching.
Left and right brain thinkers
We, as humans, make decisions differently. That’s what makes the world go round, right? There is the concept that our brains have two hemispheres which allow us to make decisions. While this continues to be debated by researchers and doctors. I have witnessed this first hand with a close friend having a massive stroke. Doctors said he would be a vegetable if he survived. After coming out of a comma, he amazed doctors. They later stated that because one side of his brain was more dominant and it was the opposite to most of us, he would live with the consequence but is still able to communicate and make his own decisions.
Left side thinkers are goal oriented people, well-organised and analytical. Rarely absent-minded and logical. I think the best way to describe them; they like to plan. Left side thinkers typically have careers such as Doctors, Lawyers, Financial Advisors and Project Managers.
Right side thinkers are more impulsive and emotional, yet they’re creative and quite artistic. They can be very intuitive and a touch psychic. They typically have careers in the arts, music and love the earth and stars.
Now if you are a left side thinker and considering leaving your marriage.
You will want to manage and plan as much as possible. Leaving little to chance. Probably have a spreadsheet, a budget and trying to answer as many questions as possible before even considering having a conversation with your partner. A right side thinker is more likely to consider the emotions of the situation and how to mitigate the painful consequences for everyone. They will dream of a better life and believe things will turn out because they are a good person. Not because they have taken actions to get the outcome they want. The opposite can also be true if they have had enough of their unhappiness and one more argument will be enough to make them react, instead, then think and considering the long game.
By no means am l saying this is the only way we make decisions as there are many more factors to be considered, such as upbringing, environment etc. But having this insight may help. So do you know what side of the brain you use for decision making? Now maybe start to use your other side to cover all ramifications being analytical and emotional.
What happens if you have no love left?
Sometimes you need to go through the motions and explore all possibilities, even if you know things won’t change. One of those options may be counselling, and you come to a decision together that the relationship is over. At least you will know you gave it one hundred percent.
On the other hand, you also know you tried everything possible to save your marriage. And can work together on a phased approach with the help and support of your counsellor. The therapist or counsellor can assist in mediating the pain and hurting felt on both sides, especially if communication is not great.
And this assists when you have a partner who you know will not accept the outcome.
Do you have a partner who will not take any responsibility or blame for the failure of the relationship? He/she will automatically put the blame back on you and say it’s all your fault.
If this is you, please know, it takes two people to have a happy relationship. Both people must take responsibility no matter how small, for happiness and the breakdown.
If you are living in this environment, it will be toxic; you will feel like swimming in Play-Doh. Moving your arms but getting nowhere! You will feel like you are fighting a losing battle. When you are in this type of relationship, you are usually the pleaser and do anything to keep the peace. This decision for you will be a long time coming.
When is the right time to leave my marriage?
When do you know that your relationship is no longer working and what are the signs to look out?
Lack of affection if you find yourself feeling unloved because your partner is no longer affectionate with you, there will be no emotional engagement. Do you know why they have withdrawn, or maybe this is you? Many people who break up will say, ‘I fell out of love some time ago’.
So let’s be honest the minimum requirement for a successful relationship is emotional engagement and the willingness to discuss feelings and communicating at the highest level. Rather than just ignoring the elephant in the room. Did you know, this is how we develop knowledge about our partner’s needs and wants, and emotional engagement is also how we maintain our intimacy.
So making sure our partner’s needs are met, including our own are the minimum requirements for an intimate relationship.
Are you at this stage in your relationship where you no longer even give a damn about winning an argument. Disagreeing is not worth the energy. Your relationship is at a critical stage where you don’t even care anymore. You’ve given up?
These reactions show that you are removed from the relationship. Researcher, John Gottman, found a lack of communication is always what sinks a healthy marriage. Effective conflict resolution and healthy arguing build skills and communicating and shows a sign of respect for each other.
If you are no longer able to resolve differences without causing injury to your partner, then you have a problem. To either agree to disagree, we need to be able to get to the bottom of a problem and address what went wrong, instead of letting resentment build.
As stated in the Book Men Are from Mars and Women are from Venus, differences are highlighted between the Sexes. When one partner no longer finds their spouse sexually attractive, then this can kill a relationship. Over time we still need to find our partners sexually attractive, and sex both expresses and reinforces the emotional bridge between the two so when a couple hasn’t had sex in a long period it usually is a reliable indicator that the emotional disengagement is advancing steadily.
It is yet another indicator that bond is rapidly eroding if not already in a terminal state.
Increased focus outside of the marriage.
When you no longer feel like rushing home, to see your partner. There’s an emptiness in your marriage, and you find yourself feeling lonely in the same room as your spouse.
People start looking for other activities to make them happy or feel fulfilled. It can be taking up a new sport, joining a new community group, it could simply be doing more with the kids or staying back at work.
And then we have the most significant indicator.
Preparing for single life.
When people are content, they sometimes let themselves go. It’s not uncommon for spouses who are initiating, leaving a relationship to stop and consider their appearance. So, in other words, lose weight. Botox and new clothes for women. Underwear for men; I’ve even heard stories of hair transplants for men.
They see these changes to increase their ability to start dating when their marriage is over.
Then there is the interest in refreshing or acquiring a career or even going back to school.
All of these indicators can show a person’s preparedness for a new beginning.
Understand the consequences, and I often get my clients to do an exercise. Reasons to stay in the marriage or reasons to leave. You need to have a minimum of 20 – 50 reasons under one of these statements. If they are even, you need to consider marriage counselling together as there is still hope for you to rebuild and maybe something else is going on in your life. Otherwise, you should have a list which will support your feelings and motives for the future.
When is the right time to leave my marriage, is a question only you can answer. Listen to your stomach and trust yourself. You know, deep down in your soul if things are not right and will never be right. At a basic level, your needs must be addressed to sustain a happy relationship. Consider counselling alone to help you with your decision making or if possible, together.
If you would like more information on this subject listen to my podcast when is the right time to leave your marriage