Sep 5, 2013

Surviving a "mid-wife" Crisis #4: Six Thoughts on Leaving

Today I am writing a guest post about the doldrums of mothering over a Beauty Through Imperfection today, even as my "Mid-Wife" Crisis series continues (tomorrow is the last day!)  If you are visiting from Paula's place, THANK YOU for coming by!  Feel free to look around, today's post is the fourth in a series, but if you scroll down to the bottom you can catch up!   I am pleased to meet you!

When I started writing this series a couple of weeks ago, I felt excited and a little scared.  Excited, because I felt called to write about this difficult topic - when I was in the midst of my crisis I was reading blog posts and magazine articles trying to find someone who would say "STOP!  It's okay, you are not going crazy!, Just back away (slowly) from the fantasy of leaving your husband, hope is not lost!"  I was scared because I knew it was going to be gut wrenching to write. Today is one of those posts.  My husband and I celebrated our Anniversary last week and both of us were somewhat aware of the significance of the day.  The Day that Almost Wasn't.

Today we are going to be talking about leaving.  Why?  Because often when you are in the midst of a "mid-wife" crisis, it is one of those things you think about.  You think about when you would leave, you think about why you would leave, you wonder how long you should stay, you wonder if you should leave.

I am also going to be addressing the three "As" - Adultery, Addiction and Abuse. The following is just my opinion, I will give you links to websites that can offer more professional help, always seek professional advice before doing anything drastic. Divorce is a little like suicide, it destroys your life... only you get to keep living to watch the fall-out.  That may seem a little harsh, but watching my sister and a couple of other friends go through it, there is no doubt to it's accuracy.  When considering something as drastic and permanent as the big "D", you should take your time to count the costs.

Thought 1: There is no "good" divorce
When you got married, you intended it to be forever (more than likely).  Even in situations where there is verbal or physical abuse, alcoholism or drug-use or recurring adultery, divorce will be painful.  Because there is something mystical about marriage, to divide two that were knit together by God is like rending a piece of fabric or a sewn together seam, it's messy and loud and destructive.  That said, a home that is unsafe for you or your children because of abuse, or addiction is a place you should leave.  I am not condoning nor condemning divorce in this situation, because every marriage is a little different, but safety first is a good rule.

Thought 2: Staying for the kids is a good option
Study after study will show that divorce has a long-term impact on the emotional health of children, that far outlasts the trauma of the divorce itself.   Even if you have a perfectly amicable divorce and a civil or even friendly relationship with your ex, your kids will still struggle with the long-term consequences of the divorce.  So, yes, stay for the kids, but if you are going to stay, why not make it worth it?  Take the time to build a friendship and fall back in love with your husband, you won't regret it!  This was a great post on this very topic.

Thought 3: The financial fall-out will be more challenging than you know.
A recent conversation with a friend who was struggling to pay the bills after separating from her husband really brought this one home for me.  Having to pay for rent, (not to mention living in and furnishing an apartment), a separate auto insurance policy, food, utilities, etc. really adds up.  You will have to get a job to cover any bills child support and spousal support doesn't cover, which means you will have to spend more time away from your kids, even when you have custody.  I have watched this unfold a couple of times now, and was somewhat amazed by the financial toll. 

Thought 4: Sharing custody of your kids is no laughing matter
I have several divorced and separated friends, and all of them miss their kids when they are staying with the other parent.  While it used to be the mother would receive full or primary custody, more recently most families are opted for 50/50.  Which is better for the kids, but harder for you.  When I was thinking through leaving my husband (it's weird to type that out, all casual-like), I couldn't get past not being able to kiss my kids goodnight every night.  It might be a strange place to get stuck, but it was a huge pause button on my whole process, and I am so glad it was. 

Thought 5: Leaving may not solve the problem
"Of course it will," you might be shouting at your computer screen, "It will get me away from him, and I find him annoying!"  Maybe he is not really the problem.  Often when we are trying to escape from a relationship that is no longer fruitful, we find that the problem follows us, which might mean that it could be you. 

What do you really want?  Do you want a man who loves and cherishes you?  Why do you assume that somebody else would do a better job than your husband (who already promised to love and cherish you)?  Do you feel alone, depressed, angry, abandoned, neglected or are you suffering from low self-esteem?  While you might blame your husband for causing those feelings, it is probably not his fault.

A couple of good quotes to empower you:“When you blame others, you give up your power to change.” and “Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.” - Epictetus.  Ultimately you are responsible for your own contentment, you can't expect someone else to make you content.

Thought 6: Adultery is painful but it doesn't have to end the marriage
Maybe you and your husband have said from the get-go that if one of you cheats, that's it, all bets are off.  Or maybe you decided early on that you will "stand by your man" no matter what and he has decided the same.  Adultery is described as one of the most painful things that can happen to a couple, and it has catastrophic effects.  Often the collateral damage hurts more than just the married couple, it impacts friends and family members as well.

Can you save your marriage after infidelity?  Yes.  It's work, but it may be worth it.  I am no expert on this topic, but have found a fantastic resource from the website  I also read an interesting article written in 1999 from the Washington Post that was thought-provoking and may be worth reading.  Ultimately, infidelity is something you want to avoid; but if it impacts your marriage, it doesn't mean your marriage is over.  If that is where you stand, I would strongly encourage you to talk to a couple's therapist to help you begin to rebuild what was torn down. 

After those six thoughts, where do you stand?  Have you ever considered leaving your husband?  What did you do?  Any other advice or thoughts for those who might be seeking help?

The whole series:
#1 - Three warning signs your marriage could be in trouble {Monday}
#2 - Four ways to STOP it in it's Tracks {Tuesday}
#3 - Five Ways to Make it WORSE {Wednesday}
#4 - Six Thoughts on Leaving {Thursday}
#5 - Seven ways to turn your marriage around {Friday}

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