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Still thinking about divorce and aghiskgagfrweblv

First of all, I’m mostly writing this to collect my thoughts and throw them out into the universe because I’m sick of bothering my best friend with this.
I’ve been thinking about divorce for a long time. I’ve been married for 6.5 years and together with husband for almost 10. The first time I had it on my mind was just 6 months after getting married. We dated long-distance basically up until a few months of getting married. If I had gotten therapy in my teens, we would have broken up within the first year but I hadn’t and had shit standards for relationships. Now I have gotten therapy and have real friends who have taught me what caring about someone means and it breaks my heart because that’s not my marriage. We’ve gotten marriage therapy and counseling 4 separate times so it’s not that we haven’t been trying. I’m just so fucking conflicted and I know that realistically I won’t do it because there were about 5 million times I should have ended things already and didn’t, but I don’t want to live this way anymore either. And of course he doesn’t want divorce, just I do, so it feels like I would be the most selfish person in the world to break our marriage for my sake. I’m just so tired of not having a partner, of not having someone who cares equally about my needs, who cares about my mental health.
He’s getting better, but that always happens when we’re in marriage therapy because he has to answer to the therapist and then once we aren’t going anymore he will start throwing huge fits over small things or get angry about doing dishes or getting angry when I’m not in the mood for sex or telling me I have to wait to go to the doctor because his appointments are more important. The same guy who argued to my face that his time was more important than mine when I asked him for help with house chores. The same guy who after years of me saying I was worried I would kill myself because things were getting bad again responded with either nothing or with “okay but you have to stay at work because we need that money right now”. The person who encouraged me to self harm (even after I sent him information on why it’s bad for me), because it made me nice to him after he made me angry or because it helped me get through my work day and that’s just what I had to do for now. Who wouldn’t make me food when I was too depressed to cook because it was too much work if I could just skip a meal and be fine. The list of things goes on for ages.
And why am I still married? Because some days it’s fine and he’s not a dick about my needs and we can laugh about a show we watched. And recently he made me a meal for the first time in 4 years and brought me flowers home when I said I was having a bad day. So it makes me feel like there’s hope. He’s been in therapy for years now so maybe he’s making progress and can make human connection and care again. But then what if he does and I still don’t want to be married to him? We don’t even want the same things because I love animals and he is openly against animals or having property or a house because it’s too much effort. He ignores our dog and our dog is the best dog in the whole world. He hates going out and only like TV and videogames and I hate doing anything that involves screens and sitting. i just keep waiting for the next stage of whatever - because that’s always the excuse. When we were dating he would drop plans with me to see someone else or not talk about my issues with me because we were ‘just dating’ and it was selfish to expect him to hang out with me when we weren’t serious enough. Then we get engaged and can say I love you and finally care about each other deeply because we’re not ‘guarding our hearts anymore’ - but once we’re married, the next excuse is that he can’t care for me because he’s focused on school. Then he graduates and now he can’t care about me well because he has to focus on his new job and make money. Then it’s because he has to focus on his physical health and then mental health… I’m just tired. But I know that divorce is gross and messy and the church hates people who get divorced and I don’t even know if it would be worth messing up my current normal over it. Like, I could probably live fine with the ‘ok’ days until I die and just be bitter. I think being alone will be better for me but what if it’s not? What if I fuck us both up? I fucked up big time by getting myself into this mess and I’m just so so mad at myself for putting up with the shit that I did. I’m angry that religion was used to twist things. I’m angry that I gave myself such low standards of what love looks like. I’m angry that I can’t stop thinking about this.

Thanks for listening. I’ll stop there.

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@ktStark

Did you pray for the situation you are in?

a lot. and my friend has prayed for me on this too

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I’m sorry you’re going through this. Hearing about marriages falling apart makes me so sad. I’m glad you have been doing couples counseling, and that he’s been getting better in his own therapy though.

At one marriage seminar I attended, the speaker talked about the concept of covenant vs. contractual marriages. Covenant marriages are those that both spouses are in it for the long haul, whatever it takes, and will work hard and sacrifice everything to make their marriage work. Contractual marriages are only good as long as a spouse is getting their needs met. It sounds to me like your husband is only invested in the marriage as much as his needs are met. There are two sides to every story, and I’d be interested to hear about what sacrifices he thinks he’s made or abuses he thinks he’s suffered, but this thread is about you.

I’ve made some pretty grand gestures of attention and love to my exes to keep them in my life. If this behavior doesn’t sustain itself, then it’s just a stunt. Furthermore, if you don’t hate each other, of course you’ll still find some common ground and be able to enjoy things together. That doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine and rainbows though.

Each spouse should put the other first. Sometimes it may involve some patience and extra support from one spouse, like when he was going to school, but you can only endure so much of that for so long. It’s easy for me to say this because I have a low-stress job and a simple lifestyle, but I would give it all up for the sake of my marriage. My wife has a high stress job, and we regularly talk about how it’s affecting our marriage and what adjustments we’d make if she leaves. You’re being taken for granted, seen as someone who will simply be there by virtue of being married, and not cared for or cherished.

Change in general is gross and messy. It’s like going through a breakup, only with paperwork and legal fees. The best way to keep it from being messy is to go no contest, settle for half, cut your losses and move on. As for the church, reasonable churches have divorce support groups because people who have been through divorce need to be ministered to more than most. If your church gives you the cold shoulder, you need a new church with real Christians who care for each other in their greatest times of need without judgment.

Before you go to the courthouse, if his therapy seems to be helping consistently, give him some time to come around. In all your marriage counseling, have you taken the 5 Love Languages quiz? It has helped my wife and I facilitate communication about our needs and how we can best show affection and serve each other. Make a list of all the things you love about him, and reflect on that. I don’t know if it will turn things around, but it might lift you up a bit. If all that fails, try a separation for awhile. IMO, for that to work, you need to leave instead of kicking him out. Kicking him out would make him resent you and push back, while you leaving would mean tearing away a part of his life that was so comfortable he didn’t realize it was there.

If you were responding to someone who made this statement, would you agree with them? A couple we were close with ended a 38 year marriage after spending 20 years complacent but unhappy. It was a shock because at a certain point it would seem like they “made it,” but it was also sad because they spent 20 years being miserable for the sake of family, church, and community perceptions.

I know I would feel a lot of shame if my marriage ended in divorce so I understand where you’re coming from now; but the reality is that we aren’t perfect, we make mistakes, we sin, we get smarter over time, and a whole bunch of other things that don’t uniquely condemn you or make you damaged goods. Lastly, remember what your identity is and what it isn’t. You are not your miserable marriage. You are not a long-suffering wife to a self-absorbed husband. You are @ktStark, a woman with unique interests and talents and needs, and you are first and foremost a child of God.

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@SheetMetalHead thank you so much for taking the time to respond. I really appreciate it. It gave me some really helpful perspective and a lot of things to think about.

And to answer one of your questions, yes we read up on love languages years back when we were dating. It pops up on my radar every now and then but we haven’t discussed it in a LONG time. I’ll bring it up with him again and see if that brings any positive changes.

I’ve left for very brief times (like a day here and there) but not for an extended period of time, except vacations. I’ve considered spending extended time apart before but was always too afraid to go for a long time because I didn’t want him to hate me for it and have it cause more issues.

Thank you again for the perspective, sharing your own experiences, and giving me some thought provoking questions

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Holy shit dude. This is like nails on a chalkboard for years and years and years, and you HATE THAT SOUND, but at some point it just becomes the background music to your life and you wonder – well, I guess since it’s been going on so long, maybe I could just stomach it? I’ve made it this far, right?

The tension in this question is so brutal. Because if you were still dating, it would be such an easy answer – fuck this shit, get the hell out of there.

Marriage is different, though, because there’s something that institutionally is supposed to be permanent about the relationship. And it’s not just “religion” it’s about the concept of marriage. Marriage is, by design, supposed to be really freaking messy and hard, and it’s supposed to grow you. Marriage is about BECOMING a different human yourself.

The challenge becomes – if you remove the stigma of ending a marriage – at what point do you decide that the other person doesn’t give a fuck about you and is ruining your life?

I don’t know. It’s such a tough question, because the truth is, you could change your perspective from – how is he serving me? To, how do I become a better spouse for him? And put blinders to your own needs in the relationship and really focus on becoming better.

But at the same time, as a woman, you are designed to be PURSUED. It’s part of the heartbeat of every woman is a longing to be romanced, to be cared for, to be fought for, to be rescued in some way. And it sounds like the broad-stroke theme is being ignored, or worse.

And while becoming better is a noble pursuit, at what point is it worth continuing to grate your heart on a knife? Especially when it feels like there is no hope.

That’s the brutal part is that you’ve spent enough time and enough effort mutually and apart to feel like – change should have happened by now. But…it hasn’t…so…what are you supposed to do? Keep hoping? Keep waiting? Especially when you know that change typically gets harder as people become more set in their ways?

And then you have the question of – well, are we even compatible enough? Because even if he were to be more pleasant of a person, would I even like him still? Or is the only thing that could or would ever keep me in this marriage just the fact that I’m in it?

It literally sounds like your mind is a war zone of self-doubt and attempts at caring for your own desires and needs yet feeling brutally invalidated and wanting to stand up for yourself but not sure if the way you want to stand up for yourself is the right thing to do and wanting desperately to do the right thing and not wanting to make an irreversible mistake and not wanting to be “labeled” and wanting to avoid the black sheep complex or the “stain” that divorce makes on your life and then again wanting to give a big fat middle finger to those people but also not having enough energy after pinging back and forth between any of these thoughts to really feel like you have any energy to give to making any sort of decisive action whatsoever, and so the misery of the neverending loop of life-sucking thoughts continue and every day you get more bitter and more unhappy and you see more and more of this man that you are unhappy with and it feels like you are watching yourself in this season of life just slip, ever so slightly, further down this downward spiral every day, and you wonder – at what point do I lose myself? At what point do ///I/// break? And then every day is compounded with the fear of what comes at the bottom and the urgency and panic of the thinking increases, which only makes it harder to do just about anything about it…and you try to do the right thing by talking it out with someone but it’s like – at what point do I burn that bridge so hard because I can’t do anything? You feel completely paralyzed – even though you know you aren’t – you feel like you couldn’t possibly do something even if you wanted to, and you see your friendship suffering, and you see yourself withering, and you feel like the only thing that’s tethering you to this eroding reality is the concept of marriage, and then you get your passion back and want to say “fuck everything, I’m ending this”, but then the whirlwind of doubts rips back across your mind, and you find yourself in the same damn loop…over…and over…and over…

What do you do when you’re in a place like that? How do you make the right decision? How do you simply risk to make ANY decision?

I do think that the key for you, ktStark, is motion. You /cannot/ stay put any longer. You’re decaying. You have to pick a direction and start moving there. If you aren’t ready to commit to a divorce, then you need to commit to voicing your frustrations to your husband. Or you need to commit to pursuing him. Or you need to commit to separating. Or you need to commit to something. I don’t care what it is, and I couldn’t tell you what the “right” move is, but you need to make a decision, for your own sake, related to your marriage, that invokes change (you cannot decide to “just keep going” – that will eat you alive too), and you need to move. Move = do something about this. Staying stuck in your own head and silently suffering cannot continue to happen. You MUST make a change. You MUST move. I can barely stand still writing this post to you – it feels like you’ve been living on quicksand, and it’s just your neck that’s above the ground now, and you better get your ass out of there right now. – to be clear, I’m not worried that you’ll take your own life, I’m worried that your heart will die, that it will get buried, and that you won’t be able to get it back. Your heart /actually/ matters, and you need to move so that it doesn’t get swallowed.

I know this doesn’t provide any “clear” sense of direction, but I hope that it focuses on a couple things:

  1. damn dude…fucking sucks…
  2. your heart matters
  3. do something about it

You have plenty of options to do something about it. And at this point, if you’re afraid of divorce, just take it off the table, and do something else. Point is, motion is key.

Hope this helps.

-Nate

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This definitely helps! thank you taking the time to write and give me some perspective

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Checking in @ktStark – how are you doing?

Thanks for the check in. I’m doing better on this topic. We had a few hard conversations (both in and out of marriage counseling) following this post and the support responses. We have more of a plan and I am waiting to see how things go in the next few months before making a decision.

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Sounds wary but hopeful…to continue to give your heart in hopes that things will change. A vulnerable place to be, but beauty comes from places like that. I am proud of you getting back up once more, AND setting a sense of boundary — no change is unacceptable, but there is hope things can be different. I stand in hope with you that this will improve.

KtStark, wow! I feel as though I was reading my life. I went back to school and changed careers from working in the cold corporate world to getting a masters in marriage and family therapy. The program changed my life…it saved my life, but it also ruined my marriage for the same reason you described. Had I cleansed my soul and healed from childhood and experiences I would have never married him either. I was married 18 years, together a total of 23 years…more than half my life. I thought of divorce since year one, but after attending the MFT program and following that up with 2 years of my own therapy, I knew I had to get out. For years I made excuses, I even convinced myself that I made a personal choice to stay, but really it was because I was too afraid to leave. What if I never found anyone to love me? He had me convinced that what I wanted didn’t exist. Then I would say to myself well what if I leave and everything we went to therapy for and talked about finally clicks and someone else gets what I worked so hard for? I couldn’t stand the thought of it. I prayed for a night and shining armor to rescue me but instead I needed to rescue myself. The longer you stay, the harder it becomes and the repair that comes with it is an even longer one. You are not ready to leave and it’s ok. Try not to be so hard on yourself about it. You’re human. But the one thing I learned through all of this mess was…YOU can’t fix or change anyone who doesn’t see there’s something broken or wants to change. I wish so badly that if he saw me hurting, if he saw me on the verge of death maybe then he would finally change, change for me because he loved me…right? So I attempted suicide twice and still nothing, the same broken promises and the same cold heart…but “he loved me” and so I stayed until I became cold and emotionally drained, cheated, got caught and everything bursted into flames. It was ugly. Don’t wait until it gets ugly. Love yourself more than you love the idea of maybe having that kind of love with him. Sending you a great big virtual hug.

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Hi ktStark,
I read this post, and though I can totally relate to the feeling of living in an empty relationship, there is one thing that struck me, in that with all you have written I didn’t see anything about you loving him. Its not a judgement, just an observation, but one that I think is worth considering.
My ex- and I went to marriage counseling and therapy too, but instead of fixing the marriage, it started me on my road of fixing me. I came from an abusive and neglectful childhood, so I was primed for my ex’s neglect, and emotional detachment. The counseling allowed me to see, for the first time that everything that went wrong was not my fault. (I had been brought up to believe that as well.)
To find your way, I can only suggest that you do your best to figure out what you want, and be sure that you are not ‘settling’ for less than what you want, if you can’t be content with less.
Remember
No one is the source of our happiness, because happiness is an internal process, not external. We are happy from the inside out, not the outside in. So I suggest you really get to know you, and what it is that you want, out of your marriage and perhaps out of your life. Perhaps then the question of your marriage will be clearer to you.
I wouldn’t concern myself too much with what others think or how they’ll respond, the person who needs your full concern is yourself. Be gentle with yourself and this process, and give yourself plenty of time to understand yourself and the very difficult emotions your going through. Try to find ways to support your emotional health while your figuring this out.

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@S.bebrave Thank you so much for sharing that part of your story and your wisdom with me :yellow_heart:

Thanks for that observation about loving or not loving him. I’ll have to spend time thinking about my feelings there. Thank you for your insight and thanks for sharing part of your story as well

Hello KtStark
I’m happy to have been of any comfort or help to you. I’m learning this as I go, believe me!
I hope you’re doing well.

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