When marriages are crumbling, there is a ton of advice out there to help save marriage (including some articles I've written). However, there's a harsh reality that far too many people ignore.
NOT ALL MARRIAGES SHOULD BE SAVED.
That could be extremely difficult for you to read. It's a little difficult for me to write. However, it has to be said. The world is a big, scary place and finding the one you're ready to spend the rest of your life with comes with a ton of road blocks and scattered carcasses of failed relationships along the way. Sometimes when we're on the path to experiencing the greatness that life has to offer, we get trapped in something that somehow makes us miserable. Or even worse - we get sucked into a whole lot of mediocrity. Oftentimes, we're not prepared for the fact that people change. If we marry too young, it can seem like we've married a completely different person than the one we first met. Not to mention how different most people can be while we're trying to woo our prospective mate. Once we settle into that comfortable place, we let our true selves shine.
Whatever the reason, I want to help you determine whether or not it's time to take the plunge into the difficult world of saving your marriage, or whether it's time to pull the plug.
WHAT'S THE POINT?
The first thing to consider is why you're here in the first place. Is this your last ditch effort after trying literally everything else to quell the anxiety and tension in your house? Are you noticing for the first time a bit of distance between you and the man who you once considered to be your absolute one and only? Maybe you've found your wife in bed with another man and aren't sure whether to pack the bags and go or give him another chance. You have to carefully examine your motive. Hopefully this is a joint venture and you're both ready to make an investment into your marriage. Your effort will be multiplied significantly if your significant other is onboard. But if you're going it alone, don't fret. What you need to do is look inside and determine why you want this. I'm not going to get into the myriad of reasons why someone would want a healthy marriage, but some reasons are worth a shot, while others are proof of the end. Your intentions are the first great indicator of what's to come.
WHAT EVEN HAPPENED ANYWAY?
The key here is honesty. You've gotta be honest with yourself. What happened that brought us here in the first place? Be a little introspective and examine the last few months or years and try to figure out where things started to go awry. Chances are it will be fairly easy to pinpoint the moment or series of moments that turned you down the wrong path. If not, it might be a good idea to discuss it with your spouse. As we pass through life, it's easy to weave our way down separate paths and then converge together again. We've gotta determine at what point the path began to separate.
HOW AM I FEELING ABOUT ALL OF THIS?
Your feelings will be a fantastic indicator of worthiness. For most of us, we find that we've known for a long time that something was wrong, but we chose to ignore it because of our love for that person. Our subconscious has an incredible way of sending up the flares to let us know that it's time to figure out what's up before it's too late. So, is it too late? If you've got that burning feeling in your gut that's screaming to you that it's over, it just might be.
Now here's the really hard part. Our feelings are going to tell us a lot about what's best, but we have to become experts at separating our feelings. For the most part, if you're here, you're going to feel like you really want it to work out. Chances are you didn't get married to someone you have loathed all along and now you're just finished with them. Simply wanting things to work isn't enough of a reason for them to work. Few couples ever end with the intent to call it quits. Sometimes it's just a matter of incompatibility. Other times what people want out of life can change. But to figure out if this is really what's best, you have to separate desire to save it from hopeless desperation. If deep down you feel like you're going to put a band-aid on your relationship only to discover the wound can never heal, it might not be the right move.
One method that can be extremely helpful in figuring it out is checking out the grass on the other side. Now I'm absolutely not advocating cheating here. In fact, I'm not even referring to another person. Here's what to do: In your mind, journey to what life would look like if the marriage worked, and if it didn't. Try to picture yourself moving into a different home, developing new friendships, immersing yourself into your hobbies, work, and interests, and discovering yourself as a single person. Really try and imagine that lifestyle and how it makes you feel. Don't just put together the pieces of immediate post-separation, but 5, 10, 20 years down the road. Imagine yourself with a future spouse. What kind of qualities would that person have? What aspects of your current spouse would you like them to maintain, and which could you do without? Would this person be a spitting image of your current spouse? Good sign! Would you change every single thing about him? Yikes. Don't let this alone be your indicator, but it can definitely help determine what's best.
Now that we've examined the grass on the other side, let's examine the freshly manicured lawn on our side. Imagine you put time and effort into your marriage. Communication opens up and you begin to understand eachother. The things you don't particularly like about one another haven't gone away, but you've gotten so much better at accepting them. You've remembered the hopes and dreams that you share and how you used to work towards them, and now begin to do so again. You bring passion back into the relationship. Sex becomes exciting and interesting. Imagine being so happy to share time together. Envision the fun things you used to do together being fun things you still do together. Picture a future with your current spouse, but renewed. One that you've worked hard to preserve.
Now ask yourself, which one would be better? Which one fills your heart up with happiness? Which one sounds like somewhere you can't envision your life going? This right here can be the biggest answer to the question you've been asking yourself for however long. Be careful though. Excitement for something new and different is a natural human want. There is a huge difference between something that will make you fulfilled in the long term, and something that will energize you short term, but deplete you over the course of your life. You've gotta decide if you feel life will be better with or without your spouse.
WHAT ABOUT THE KIDS?
One of the most difficult factors that can come into play when it comes to marriage is kids. So many relationships stay together for the kids. Well I'm here to shake things up and say that's not always the right thing to do. It's not always the wrong thing either. All things considered, trying to help make your kids' lives better is of course a positive thing. However, kids who spend their lives with parents whose relationship is toxic doesn't help anyone. We've all gotten the chance to experience children who have lived those lives. It's miserable for all involved. The parents aren't happy, the kids aren't happy, and the rest of us feel sorry for them. So what I'm suggesting here is to take the kids into consideration, but not the only consideration. A toxic, hateful, disrespectful relationship will only serve to make the child's life worse. But if you can pull it together and work together to make strides toward a supportive relationship, then staying together for the kids is the best choice.
The final point I want to make is that we know that a relationship can be the most fulfilling, wonderful thing in the world and a happy marriage is the backbone to a happy life. When it's turned sour though, it can stop us from enjoying anything else in life. The only person who can determine if your marriage is worth saving is you. Don't stay in it just because you vowed to. Don't hold it together because of the messiness of divorce. If you're going to do it, do it because of the love that you have or once had for that person you picked to spend the rest of your life with. Rebuild the marriage because they're your best friend and you want to share every success and every failure with them. The effort is worth it if the relationship is worth it. Take the time to evaluate, and if you find it's right, then jump in and get to work on saving your marriage.