If you’re in a bad marriage and are really unhappy, should you separate, get a divorce, or stay in the marriage?
For us, this is not a cut and dry decision as there are many factors to consider.
As you all know by now, we’re not afraid to approach what some would consider to be forbidden topics. We like to think outside of the box and question everything while staying true to ourselves.
Our goal with this post is to help Karen follow her heart and make decisions based on love rather that fear and guilt.
Hang on tight! This could get bumpy. We’re about to step outside the box and ask you to question beliefs that you may have never have thought to question before.
Don’t forget - take the poll at the end of this article to make your vote count on this incredibly controversial topic.
Background – Is this a bad relationship?
This question is a bit involved, so we’ll break it up into sections.
I was married for twelve years to a man (S) that deserted me twice. He also had numerous extra-marital infidelities. He took his stuff and left this last time about a year and a half ago. I tried and tried to talk to him but he refused to talk to me or answer my phone calls. I was just heartbroken. He was my second husband. My first husband wasn’t unfaithful, but he had an explosive temper and shouted and screamed at me. And even though he never actually hit me, I was afraid of him.
Anyway, seven months after my second husband left me I decided to try and move on with my life. I met a wonderful man (D). He was everything I had wanted – Caring, responsible, trustful and very loving. We started slowly, but after awhile I fell deeply in love with him. And he fell in love with me.
I hired an attorney. I filed for divorce. After I had been with D for around four months he proposed to me. I was very excited and accepted. I knew our relationship was perfect and we had a wonderful life ahead of us. We were doing everything together and I was so happy.
S somehow found out and started to phone me. He told me he wanted us to get back together. He told me he would never do any of the things he had done to me before. He said he had found God and was going to church now. He said that he was a changed man. He said I was still his wife and I owed him another chance to prove he had changed. He told me he was a broken man and was thinking about suicide. I finally allowed him to see me he cried and cried and pleaded with me telling me he had changed. I felt so guilty.
Love and Fear
Karen, while this is a very emotional situation, don’t allow yourself to feel guilty about anything another person does or experiences. They make their own choices in life and their experiences are their own. You can be understanding and empathize with the other person, but never, ever, make yourself responsible for what another person is experiencing.
You can control how you behave and respond to a situation, but that is where your control ends. Never let another person make you feel guilty. There is no right or wrong choice in life because we grow from each experience – some choices just work better for us than others. Even the ones that didn’t work out quite like you hoped provide the opportunity to grow.
Sometimes the best way to figure out what we want is to experience what we don’t want. Just try to learn from that experience so that you don’t keep repeating it. I’ve noticed that the Universe will keep sending you the same situation or experience over and over until you learn the lesson that you need to learn from that specific experience.
Our emotional scale has two extremes – love and fear.
In every situation – ask yourself if you’re acting out of love or fear, and always try to act out of love. Now that doesn’t mean letting someone walk all over you… You need to make decisions that feel right in your heart, in the core of your being, in your gut, however you want to explain it. Just make sure that you’re not making your decisions out of fear, anger, guilt, jealousy, revenge or any other negative emotion.
Others may react to your decisions with a negative emotion, but remember what we said in the beginning – You can only control your responses, not theirs. If another person chooses to respond to something you do with a negative emotion, that’s their decision and you can’t control what they do. You can only accept their reaction with love and understanding.
Make your life decisions based on what feels right for you. Many, but not all, will disagree with me, but the only person that you are ultimately responsible for in this life is you. Others come and go from your life so that you can further the experience of life, but you come into this life on your own and you leave on your own, so make sure that while your here you take care of YOU.
Religion and Guilt
I told D and my church counselor that if S really has changed then I thought I should give him another chance. My church counselor said I needed to forgive S and try again.
What else would a church counselor say? Your church counselor is bound by the rules and regulations of whichever religion he chooses to follow. And those rules and regulations are not always based on love, but are based on control. Having said that, forgiveness is the most powerful tool that you have in this life. I believe there’s a quote that goes something like… “Forgiveness is God’s gift to the forgiver, not the forgiven” – something like that. It’s very true because you let go of all the negative emotions around the situation whether or not the other person even knows that you forgave them. So whether or not your stay married, try to forgive him.
D was very upset and told me I was not thinking straight. He told me I had been emotionally abused through both my marriages and that S was manipulating me. D said that my marriage to S was over the minute he abandoned me. I still felt guilty.
There’s absolutely no reason for you to feel guilty. He left you. Remember? You are under no obligation to take him back – unless you wish to keep repeating that same pattern until you’ve learned everything you need to learn from it.
I went to psychiatric counseling with D and the doctor couldn’t understand why I considered going back to S. I felt such pressure and told D I needed some space to figure this out. He left me alone for about a month. Meanwhile S kept calling and following me. I finally agreed to go see my church counselor with S. The counselor said that we couldn’t rebuild our marriage if we lived apart. So I allowed S to move back in.
This may sound harsh, but I would ditch the church counselor. He does not have your best interest in mind. His only concern is that you follow the rules of the church, whether you’re happy or not. I believe that we are all here to experience happiness.
The doctrine of misery is fabricated by modern organized religion. They tell us that we have to suffer to be good people. Have you really read the Bible? I can’t find anywhere in the Bible that says we need to be miserable to be good people.
My interpretation of Jesus’ teachings and the Bible is that we should love and accept everyone and every experience that comes into our life unconditionally because life is perfection.
Sure, modern religion misquotes many specific passages in the Bible which have been translated by many different writers with many different perceptions through many different languages over thousands of years and tells us to follow their rules or go to Hell. I believe that Hell is defined by the self perpetrated misery that many people put themselves through each and every day. Hell is what we experience when we are not true to ourselves.
We don’t need religion to tell us what is right and wrong. As long as we come from a place of love and acceptance, we’ll always make the right decisions. That’s what we’re here to learn. I’ve never known a truly spiritual person who judges another person. Why would an all powerful God need to judge us – that would be like us judging the actions of ant in an anthill on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean… OK, enough ranting on modern religion…
It wasn’t right. I knew it. After all the love and joy I had found in D I now was back in a very dark and unloving relationship. He follows me everywhere. He calls me on the cell phone constantly to make sure where I am. He checks my calls on the internet during the day. He times everything so if I am home late he wants to know why. I let him sleep in my bed, and I’ve allowed him to have sex with me but it makes me sick to do it.
After awhile D contacted me. He told me that our time apart was awful for him. I felt such love and excitement hearing from him. I had missed him so much. He said that he loved me more than ever. I love him more than anyone I have ever loved. I started seeing D whenever I could find an excuse to get away from S. We hold hands and kiss and the magic is greater than it ever was.
But S hounds me about everything I do. He intercepts and reads my mail and anything he doesn’t want me to have he takes. He tells me that God has forgiven him so now I have to just “Get over it”. He tells me now I’m the sinner because I love D.
And sometimes I wonder, is S acting this way only because he knows I love D?
I know what I am doing is wrong. At first I thought that if S has really changed that I had to give him another chance. Now I see that even if he does change, this is not the life I want. I want to be with D. But now I feel trapped. Also, S has got himself into great debt – Almost $80,000.00 on credit cards. I feel guilty just leaving him to get out of debt by himself. I feel I should help. I even thought of moving out and letting him live in my house until he gets back on his feet again. D tells me not to do that. D says that S got himself into this. It’s true, S caused and did everything.
Why do I still feel so sorry for him? I just don’t know what to do. I think going to church is such a good thing, but I’m not sure that they are giving me the right advice. I’m so confused. D tells me to pack a bag find a refuge for a while, tell S to leave and not talk to him anymore.
I think the only right thing I’ve done in all this is not to cancel my divorce. I’ve told D that I’m going to do something by the end of the month. I know the right thing to do is tell S to leave and continue my relationship with D. I’m going to try but it is so hard. S cries all the time and begs me not to “throw him away”.
Please give me some advice.
Go back and re-read the begining…
You are not responsible for another person’s decisions or experiences. He is going to have to deal with his own emotions and circumstances. If you feel compelled to help him and that resonates true to you, then help him.
Just don’t do it out of obligation, guilt, or fear.
It sounds to me like you already know what you’re doing is wrong for YOU…
- Follow your heart and do what you feel to be right.
- Stop listening to other people who are not on your path. You’ve heard the old saying to walk a mile in another’s shoes before judging them. Well, the fact is that no one has walked in your shoes, including us, and they have no right to tell you what is right or wrong for you.
- Stop repeating old patterns and stop punishing yourself for things that others perceive to be wrong. Follow your heart and your passions. Only then will you truly be happy.
- It is not your responsibility to make anyone else happy, but it IS your responsibility to make yourself happy.
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