The #1 question I hear when I talk to clients about whether to divorce or not is, “How do I know if I’m making the right decision?” (Or past tense, How do I know if I made the right decision?)
I remember this feeling all too well.
When I considered leaving my husband, I had this gut instinct that I knew I had to do it – I was just too unhappy to stay. But self-doubt would always creep in, and then fear, and then the pleading from my children, family, and even my ex – all of that was hard to battle, preventing me from staying true to myself.
So if you’re getting so many questions like, “Are you sure you want to leave?” or “Marriage is hard, you should stick it out,” I want you to do something for yourself.
Go to a quiet place.
Close your eyes and breathe.
And talk to your inner spirit – what is she saying to you? Do you feel this gut instinct that you no longer should tolerate bad behavior? Are you convinced that your partner will never change, no matter what you say or do?
Here are some other metrics for you to consider:
You do not feel safe in the relationship – this not only applies to your physical safety, but also your emotional safety. If you do not feel safe in speaking up without getting yelled at or it starting a huge fight, then you are making the right decision.
The love you had for your partner is just gone – I always ask my clients, what if your partner suddenly became that person you wanted them to be? Would you love them again? If you feel that too much damage has been done, the trust has been broken, and there is zero love for this person, then you are making the right decision.
You have tried, and tried, and tried some more, yet nothing has changed – yes, this is the definition of insanity! If you have gone to couples counseling, and your partner is unwilling to make any changes, refuses to take ownership of his/her feelings, always blaming you, then you are making the right decision.
Your partner is addicted – to women, to men, to porn, to alcohol, to drugs, to buying things, and refuses to get help. If yes to any of these, then you are making the right decision.
Your children are witness to awful things – if they are getting emotionally abused by your partner, or seeing you both fight incessantly, if they see YOU fearful, then they deserve a happier place to live, so yes, you are making the right decision.
When you are asking yourself whether you are making the right decision, I’m going to be that you are, but it’s FEAR that is holding you back. Fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of financial burden – all of those things will work themselves out. Lean into those fears and just accept them for what they are.
When I asked myself this same question years ago, I look back on it and realized that I was terrified my kids would never turn out okay – that they would be in therapy for years, and their lives would be ruined.
Just the other day my 10 year old son were in the car together, and I asked him, “When you are a grown up, what’s the one thing you will look back on in your childhood as the worst thing ever?”
I asked him this based on the coaching that I do, and as grown-ups, we all have that one traumatic event that we won’t forget.
He said, “Oh mom, that’s easy.”
I braced for the answer. That the divorce scarred him for life.
“When you took the Play Station away from me last year. I’m STILL not over it!”
I laughed and responded, “Really? I was thinking it would have been the divorce!”
“Yeah, it was tough for like 5 minutes,” he said. “But that was so long ago, I’m over it. Besides, you and Dad are SO different, I can’t imagine you being together. All I remember was the fighting, and now you and him are both happy. That’s all that matters to me.”
So there you have it my dear friend, you being happy IS all that matters.