Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover (And Start Over Again)


Posts from APW moms are among my favorite (there is some wisdom there, y’all). But today’s post is extra special because it comes from my mom. My mother (who goes by Jennifer when it’s not me) often jokes that she doesn’t know where I learned about relationships, but that she thinks some of it might have to do with learning from her mistakes. But the reality is, what she calls mistakes actually look a lot like successes to me. Because if my mom has taught me anything about marriage and divorce, it’s that self-care is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your relationship. And sometimes self-care looks like getting out of a relationship that isn’t making you happy and never will. As I get older, I’ve witnessed many friends stay in unhappy marriages out of fear. Fear of failure, fear of being alone, you name it. And it kills me. So for today, I asked her to write a post about leaving a marriage when it’s just not working. Because sometimes all it takes is knowing you can do something to give you the courage to go ahead and do it. And now I’ll give the floor to my mom, with some of the smartest words I’ve ever seen grace these pages. Not that I’m biased.

Maddie

Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover (And Start Over Again) | A Practical Wedding

Starting over from scratch. No one sees this coming when they’re marching down the aisle—whether the aisle is church stone, beach sand, or hardwood in a local VFW club—till death do us part is embedded deep in our hearts on that wedding march, and in our partner who’s waiting at the end, face beaming at the thought of you growing old together and retiring to a porch swing, sipping fresh lemonade.

Fast forward to the day you’re sitting on a beach in Mexico on a “girl’s trip” realizing how short life is, and that death-do-us part is a really, really long time when you’re married to a guy who prefers watching ESPN over viewing any part of you…even when you’re rocking lingerie. Or a guy who isn’t who you thought he was when you said yes.

This was me at thirty-one years old. Life had recently taught me I controlled nothing. I learned I could attempt to protect everything in my life—my family, friends, relationships, and my heart—but bad things happen despite efforts to prevent them. That trip to Mexico was an escape. Everything about me was broken. I had just lost my nine-year-old daughter to brain cancer, and during the time she was sick, had gradually discovered that my husband didn’t have the emotional capacity to help my dying heart survive the process of losing her. He wasn’t cruel or apathetic. He just didn’t get it. The day before I left for Mexico, my friend and neighbor Ray died of a heart attack alone in a hotel on a business trip. I was devastated by his death, as much for losing him as for losing any belief that life would be there waiting for me to live again if I ever healed. I learned the hard way that life is too short. I knew then there were things I needed to think about. Big things.

So there I sat at thirty-one years old—five kids, a cat, two dogs, and a husband I needed to decide on. Sitting there on that white, sandy beach at 6:45am, while my intentionally childfree girlfriends slept till noon, I thought about things. A lot. On that beach—day four of thinking—I finally decided. It was over. I was indeed—done. I could not come up with one reason to stay with my husband that had anything to do with my own happiness or comfort, just those around me. My husband was a great guy, I thought no one would understand my choice. My kids would be crushed. My family might be disappointed in me. My financial stability would be suddenly unstable. People would talk.

On that beach, none of it mattered. I would always take care of my kids. My family would get over it. I could make my own money. And who gives a sh*t what people say. The final decision came down to a crude, possible future reality—some day I may not have teeth or control of my bladder. I may get sick. Really sick. Would I feel loved and cared for no matter what? I didn’t think I would. Would he cry with me and for me if I did get really sick? I didn’t think he would. I thought a lot about this in particular. I shouldn’t have had to. This was not how I was going to live the rest of my life.

Over doesn’t always happen like mine did. It happens in many ways—getting dumped out of the blue, cheated on, or just realizing you plain old made a mistake in choosing your life partner and need to end it. No matter how the end happens, it sucks. Those first two scenarios are full of shock and awe. They’re rugged. Everything you thought was—wasn’t. Everything happening to you is out of your control. You can’t sleep or eat, and friends worry. It’s the making of a Carrie Underwood song. In these situations, you are forced to survive. You don’t weigh options, such as financial independence, who gets the kids, house, friends, dog, or cat, or what it will be like with way too much time alone. You successfully wing it all and make it because you have to. This is important to remember as you look at scenario number three—you will always survive the end and be better on the other side.

Because then there’s the third scenario: Deciding you’re done. This path allows for way too much contemplation. In this case, knowing you’re done is the real done, not the temporary, annoyed, “I hate the way he or she chews cereal” kind of done. I’m talking about the done when your smart-brain knows your relationship is unhealthy or awful, but your excuse-making, crowd-pleasing, desperate-for-it-to-work brain takes over and wrecks everything. This part of the brain allows for fear to creep in and trump your gut instincts and smart-brain knowledge that you are in the wrong place with the wrong person. If your brain is functioning in this manner, you may need an intervention. By me. Right now. So please pay attention.

If you read my first APW post, you’ll know I love lists. If you didn’t read it, then know this—I love lists. If you are in need of an I’m done intervention right now, I am going to offer you scenarios (some I’ve been through, some I’ve watched others endure) in list form, that will help you know that no matter what you’re afraid of, or don’t know how to do, everything will be okay. For real.

Scenario One: You’ve never lived alone. You know who you are—you lived with your parents, then a roommate in college, and now your current partner. You have no idea how to be alone. That’s okay. Alone, at first, is terrifying. Time drags. The phone never rings. Notifications don’t come. I’ll be honest. It’s tough. Don’t tackle this on your own at first if you don’t think you can handle it. Most can’t. Stay with anyone who will take you—temporarily. I stayed with my good friends Kate and Joel. Three or four days. Maybe twenty-five. It’s a blur. Joel asked me to surrender my phone so I wouldn’t torture myself through the night waiting for calls or notifications—even though I was the one who was done. He wanted to be sure, more than anything, that I didn’t make any calls or send messages I would regret based on my fear of being done and alone. I gave him the phone. It worked. I made it over that initial panic-filled hump. You will, too. Lean on the people who love you. They want to help. Doing this will help you stay true to your decision to be done and your decision to be where you need to be.

Scenario Two: You don’t know how to do anything—like pump your own gas. While this may sound extreme, it happened to a friend of mine. She had decided to leave her husband for another man—gasp! She didn’t mean to, but she fell in love with a close family friend. Her teenaged daughters took the side of her husband, her husband was destroyed, and her new lover’s wife was set on revenge. She could work through all of that, and rebuild, but could not get past what she didn’t know how to do—pump gas. Her dad had done it for her when she was young, and her husband had picked up where he left off after they were married. As she sat in my classroom crying about pumping gas, I offered to take her to the 7-Eleven to teach her. She learned. There are teachers everywhere. Look to them to teach you how to do what you don’t know how to do—the things that make you stay where you don’t belong.

Scenario Three: You don’t know how to start the conversation. Don’t over think this. Just say it. Be kind, empathetic, and gentle, but say it. I remember riding in the car on the way home to Portland from Boston after that Mexico trip. It was Valentine’s Day, by chance. My husband offered up a diamond bracelet, which made it tough to spit out the words. It wasn’t the bling biting my tongue, it was the thought and effort. Finally. It was weird. And nice. And confusing. But not enough to change my mind. I told him that things were not what I needed. I didn’t know what I needed, but I knew it wasn’t stuff. He knew what I meant. We drove the rest of the way home in silence, both beginning the end. For the next few years, we rode the stages of grief—the loss of our daughter and the end of our marriage—trying to figure out how to keep our kids stable and healing. He’d leave to stay with a friend four days a week, and I’d leave for three. We focused on keeping the kids in one place to give them a shot at normalcy. It worked for a while. We split accounts, talked to lawyers, and went to grief counseling together. I bought an apartment building, he and Joel moved me in, and it was done. I was alone. And I was okay. Alone let me learn more about me and what I wanted and needed. At times it was lonely and quiet, but I was okay. I called on Kate and Joel often. I stayed with my brother and his wife here and there to get through the quiet. I said yes to every invitation to do just about anything because it took my mind off of my doubts. I made it.

Weighing all of your options—reasons to stay, reasons to go—is a great way to convince yourself that staying in a shitty relationship is the best way to go. Do not do this.

Do this:

Be loved. Know that you will feel loved when sh*t unexpectedly hits the fan in life. Accept nothing less than living your life with your one great love—the one who has your back—thick and thin—sickness and health—your best friend— even if it means being alone long enough to figure out what that means to you. Don’t be bought out to stay. Don’t stay for the kids, or the dog, or the cat—they will all see right through you. Go. It’s worth the leap. You will figure it out and find your way to the real thing.

I finally figured it out. I have my real thing. He’s sitting behind me in the recliner waiting for me to turn around and watch The Voice with him while the Bruins play the Canadiens on another channel—because he knows I love me some Adam Levine. Now that’s great love.

Photo by APW Sponsor Gabriel Harber Photography

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  • http://www.safarimama.blog.com Manya

    Jennifer, I love this post. I left my marriage years ago (yeah, that story in the links: The Wedding I Should Have Called Off is mine) and your wise words from the safety of the other side would have been such a comfort to my then self. I too have found my way to the other side, and it is so much better here with my Great Love. It’s not even the same life.

    I hope that your words might help some of the wonderful APW women who might need a shot of liquid courage and a promise of joy and relief on the other side. Thank you! For me, and for them…

  • C R

    Amazing and incredibly wise — of all of the wonderful things I read on this site, this one really hit home for me. I wish I had read this a few years ago when I was struggling with making my own decisions about divorce. I think one of the hardest things to overcome is that feeling of selfishness – that you’re selfish/immature/a bad person for putting your needs first. It took my entire support system to help me believe that it was okay to find another way to be happy. My friend even made me write down on a piece of paper “I am special and deserving of good things” so I would look at it when I doubted myself — I still have it today. And “Be loved” is one of the best pieces of advice for someone struggling with this decision. So true.

    Having survived that experience, I am better for it and life is amazingly good today. I have found that one great love in my life, who truly loves me for who I am. I know that where I am now is where I’m supposed to be — and I can’t wait to marry him!!

    • Class of 1980

      “I think one of the hardest things to overcome is that feeling of selfishness – that you’re selfish/immature/a bad person for putting your needs first.”

      Yes. It is absolutely the single hardest thing. I remember constantly asking … “Why does my happiness have to make someone else so wretchedly unhappy?”

      But I felt like my spirit would die if I stayed. There is no getting around it; you can only go through it.

      • Hillori

        But what pushed me through it was realizing, “Why does HIS happiness rely on me being so wretchedly unhappy?”

        The only fair thing was to end it and allow us both a chance to heal and find happiness.

  • Katherine

    I swear to god, Jennifer, I think you were channeling Cheryl Strayed/”Dear Sugar” there for a minute or two.

    Like a bunch of other ladies out there, I finally got up the nerve to leave 6 years ago. I stopped making the excuses, and I’m so glad I found the strength to make that huge leap. Like MANYA says, “It’s not even the same life.” It’s totally different, in *so* many ways, and better than I ever thought it could be. I’m in the best relationship of my life, with an amazing man who’s been my best friend since we were 14 in high school. I learned from my mistakes, and learned that I’m stronger than I ever realized.

    Props to you & all of us other ladies that took that deep breath and made the leap. It’s not easy, but it’s so worth it when you’re safely on the other side.

  • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.nl/ Amanda

    This is so wise. Thanks for sharing. This specially resonated:

    “Life had recently taught me I controlled nothing. I learned I could attempt to protect everything in my life—my family, friends, relationships, and my heart—but bad things happen despite efforts to prevent them. ”

    and this:

    “Be loved. Know that you will feel loved when sh*t unexpectedly hits the fan in life. Accept nothing less than living your life with your one great love—the one who has your back—thick and thin—sickness and health—your best friend— even if it means being alone long enough to figure out what that means to you”

    Figuring out how to be alone can be hard work, but I think it’s something everybody has to do at some point or another in life. It may be one of the most important things to learn in life.

  • SarahToo

    Thank-you so much for this. Fear of divorce has been deeply imbedded in my psyche (and consequently the flip side: fear of marriage) due to the trauma of my own parents’ bitter split-up(s). It instilled in me a tremendous fear of committment that I only just managed to get over last year, when I shared my vows with someone I love dearly… a love I hope will grow and last for the rest of our lives. The idea of getting married scared the sh*t out of me, largely because the possibility of a “failed marriage” seemed absolutely intolerable, one of most horrifying scenarios I could imagine for my life. Your post is a good reminder that divorce is not the end of the world. It’s the beginning of a new life, and most likely a better life than what went before. It’s nice to know that in spite of all the pain involved, divorce can be a truly positive step. Knowing this helps me to feel good about my choice to get married, let go of my fears around it ending in divorce, and enjoy whatever time we have together. People grow and change with time. Sometimes these changes aren’t compatible, and “till death do us part” is not always in the books. But it’s still worth trying to build a life together, knowing that if it doesn’t work out, you’ll be ok.

    • Maddie

      You know what’s funny? Watching my parents divorce (they have one of the best divorces I’ve ever seen) has all but taken away my fear of divorce. I know not every marriage can end amicably, but I’m so glad my parents are still friends. It reinforces the idea to me that a relationship doesn’t always have to end, sometimes it just needs to be redefined. And while I hope Michael and I never find ourselves in a place where we are seeking a divorce, I find a kind of weird comfort knowing that he could still be part of my life.

      In short, I’ve learned more about how to have a healthy relationship from my parents’ divorce than from when they were married. And I think that says something.

      • Diane

        I couldn’t agree more. My parents were a terrible match for each other but (IMHO) did an awesome job co-parenting and both made better choices the second time around. They’ve been apart for 28 years, though, so they’ve had plenty of time for the anger and disappointment fade. They have become friends and enjoy and respect each other. And they’re both super excited for me wedding (which is in 10 days! yippeee!). Knowing that divorce is survivable allows me to approach marriage without fear.

  • Class of 1980

    Having gotten divorced more than 10 years ago, this post stirs up a quagmire of feelings and thoughts. But I’ll only mention one thing …

    Don’t let anyone tell you what your life should look like after the divorce, especially with your ex. I remained friends with my ex because it was the right thing and the kindest way for us. And we didn’t even have children.

    Some people think it’s weird, but they don’t have enough information to judge. I was the one who wanted out. He was blindsided and had mental issues. Changing to another form of relationship with the ex was a softer way to handle such a shock. Pushing him completely out of my life would have been cruel in our case. I have never regretted staying in contact and today he is my biggest cheerleader.

    Your mileage may vary of course. We had been together a long time. Just let your post-divorce situation reflect your individual needs rather than what is “expected”.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00388929873803169413 Kristen

    Thank you. What a beautifully written piece. Now here’s a question because you appear to have to have your biz together and I’d love to know how to do this:

    How do you shut it off?

    I found the courage to leave my 14 year relationship and it was the BEST decision of my life. I worked (and continue to work) on myself and recently married my best friend, the one who I believe will help me have the life I want. But I can’t turn off the, “I can leave! I’m strong enough” mindset. And I’m not talking about like when fighting or having issues. It rears its head then as well of course, but I’m talking about how to let your guard down, how to be vulnerable when I’ve had this strangle hold on strength for the last 4 years. I want to stop thinking about how I can survive it if something happened to our marriage or worse – if something happened to him, and instead actually love hard enough that I’m NOT sure I could survive if something happened.

    I guess I’m just not sure how to be both vulnerable and open while maintaining personal belief in ones own strength. Because my strength keeps telling me not to let my guard down, and its getting confusing.

    • C R

      In some ways, knowing what you’re capable of doing is good — you know that you can survive and protect yourself and make a new start. You know that you can be strong. On the other hand, we don’t always realize that this can also be hard to live with — knowing that you are willing to leave if you are unhappy… that you could, in the process, hurt someone else deeply to put yourself first. I found this hard to deal with also, as I never thought divorce was an option until I found myself in that situation. For me, I think it came down to learning to trust myself again….and how to forgive myself for the past.

      Strength doesn’t mean you have to be hard…maybe it just means being brave and facing your fears head-on. The good news is that you’ve already shown you can be brave — and now it’s time to use that same courage to take down the walls instead of building them. Thinking good thoughts for you!!

      • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00388929873803169413 Kristen

        “Strength doesn’t mean you have to be hard…maybe it just means being brave and facing your fears head-on.”

        THANK YOU, times like a bajillion.

        Looking at it this way, helps immensely. Maybe I’ll print it out and carry it around in my wallet with me like I would a really good fortune.

    • Hintzy

      I can say from personal experience, it’s not an easy thing to do – and I don’t think you necessarily shut it off… I do take a step back and take a good hard look at the status of things, just to make sure I’m not ignoring something it shouldn’t be. However I also allow myself to trust in my strength to take that risk. It is a risk, no two ways about it, and life wouldn’t be life without it.

      So I guess I don’t really know an instruction on how… other than trusting that if you needed that sort of strength again in the future, you’d find it, but right now you need another sort of strength, and you’ll find it.

  • http://www.kindofamess.com Alyssa

    Maddie is awesome in her own right, but this shows what a good start she got.

    There aren’t enough words to say how much I love this. I hope I never need this advice, but I am so glad that it is here for if and when I do. Now I just have to try and get the bravery to send this to the person I know who DOES need it right now…

    But thank you Ms. Jennifer. Thank you very very very much.

  • Melise

    As someone getting married in just a few months, I appreciate that APW shares beautiful things from all over the marriage spectrum. I have an amazing man and hope that I never need advice about ending my relationship, but I think that this post speaks profoundly to our happiness in life and relationships in general. Recently, I’ve been working on expressing my needs better to my fiance. At first I felt a little selfish telling him that I needed more attention in one way or another, but I know that when I’m my happiest self, I’m better equipped to make him happy and serve the people around me. I think the concept also holds true for those needing to leave a relationship. If you’re not happy, and there’s no way to get there by staying where you are, you won’t ever be able to be your full self. And if you’re not your full self, that will affect the way you interact with your kids or your friends or your partner. No matter where you are in life and in relationships, your needs are important. Thank you, Jennifer, for the real and beautiful reminder!

  • Another Jennifer

    Jennifer- I don’t know if you’ve heard of or read Maria Housden’s books, Hannah’s Gift and Unraveled, but you should look them up if not. Her story is strikingly similar to yours, so you may find them interesting!

  • Liz

    So. Good. Exactly what I needed to read this morning. Thank you :-)

  • Anon for this

    “Deciding you’re done. This path allows for way too much contemplation. In this case, knowing you’re done is the real done… I’m talking about the done when your smart-brain knows your relationship is unhealthy or awful, but your excuse-making, crowd-pleasing, desperate-for-it-to-work brain takes over and wrecks everything.”

    This part of the post both resonated for me and is something I would like to amend based on my own personal experience because, for me, giving a grace period after I “knew” was the best thing I could have done for my break up.

    I ended a 6 year relationship, that, based on conversations I had with this person after we broke up, was going to lead to marriage very soon (we would have been engaged within 2-3 months). There was nothing wrong with our relationship on paper, but, like with Jennifer’s story, he was more interested in something that wasn’t me (World of Warcraft) and wouldn’t give me the emotional support I explicitly asked for.

    I spent 4 months “deciding” whether to break up with him. I would Google “when should you break up with your boyfriend,” and would get frustrated when I didn’t see any clear answers. In the back of my mind, the answer was clearly, “when you start Googling advice on when the right time is to break up with your boyfriend,” but I wasn’t ready to hear that.

    And then, one day, when I was alphabetizing my bookshelf, I thought, “It’s okay, there’s always divorce.” Umm…not a good reason to stay in a relationship. So then, I knew.

    But after I knew, I waited 2 weeks to feel out my decision. I wanted to be sure. I was scared. I wanted the timing to be right. So I poured my all into our relationship. I asked again for my needs to be met. And each passing day made me feel more and more sure of my decision. And it gave me time to craft my speech, and get my angry tears out so I could just do it without being stymied by overwhelming emotion. And I did.

    And that time being sure also helped me stand my ground when this guy tried to get back together with me 7 times over a course of a year. Because he was being so sweet that without that time, maybe it would be okay to try again…but I had tried again already, so I was okay saying, “No.” Repeatedly.

    TL;DR – YMMV, but for me, giving myself a grace period after I “knew,” helped me be even more sure.

    • K

      I have found my own love of lists to be helpful in a similar situation. Writing down all the positives I could see about breaking up really made me see that it was the right thing to do, and reviewing it reminded me why it was still right later on when as you say, he was being so sweet and on his best behaviour.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00388929873803169413 Kristen

      “I would Google “when should you break up with your boyfriend,” and would get frustrated when I didn’t see any clear answers…the answer was clearly, “when you start Googling advice on when the right time is to break up with your boyfriend,” ”

      YES. YES. YES. Thank you because I thought I was the only one who had done this. And could someone please create a page so when the next poor woman types into google, “When to end long term relationship” the first result is from Google saying, “Look at what you just asked me! NOW. End it now. Gawd!”

    • Anon

      Oh how your story resonated with me. I too, recently ended a 7 year relationship where nothing was visibly wrong. Most people, except very few close friends, were completely shocked when I ended it.

      I also took a very long time to come to my decision to end it, about 5 months. During those months I kept waffling back and forth, back and forth. It was a complicated situation, but everything surrounding that decision consumed me. It was almost all I could think about. I started working out, hard, very hard, as a way to get my mind to calm down and stop racing. That was the only way I could stop thinking about it.

      And then one day at work, I just knew I had to end it. That it was the right thing to do. I pretty much lost my sh*t right then and had to leave. I called my brother but besides that, I didn’t talk to anyone else. I asked my partner to come home and then I told him. From the time I made my decision until I officially ended it was approximately 3 hours.

      That worked for me. But that is how I typically function. I take forever to make decisions. Once I do though, there’s no changing my mind.

      “Lean on people you love”. Yes. Definitely. I had never been in a situation like this, where I needed people. Really needed them. I stayed with a friend for 2 weeks. I stayed with my parents for a week. Besides my birthday, it was the only day in my life where every member of my family called me. When I told my friends and family, they supported me in a way I hadn’t anticipated. Things with my partner did not end well at all. I’m not proud of some of the things I did so I very much did not anticipate the support that I got.

      Now, months after the break-up and solidly on the other side, I’m having a great time. It’s my first time being a single adult, my first time living alone and my first time dating. I’ve learned a lot about myself. Somewhere in the 7 years we were together, I lost parts of myself but did not realize it. I am gradually uncovering many of parts of my personality that I forgot existed. I’m rediscovering who I am. It’s exhilarating and exciting.

      • Anon for this

        “Somewhere in the 7 years we were together, I lost parts of myself but did not realize it. I am gradually uncovering many of parts of my personality that I forgot existed. I’m rediscovering who I am. It’s exhilarating and exciting.”

        Yes! Even though it’s hard, sometimes it’s kind of the best!

  • Sabee

    Thank you so much for posting this….I only wish I could have read this years ago! This is the reason that I (broken up, single, not even trying to date) follow APW. It’s a place where strong women can talk about marriage, but also the good, bad, ugly, and just plain confusing things life throws at us.
    I’m still struggling two years after a break up. The dumping happened suddenly, but the knowing in my gut it wasn’t going to work happened long before that. I feel like I lost everything because I had too much invested in him and our relationship and not enough invested in me, my fulfillment or my happiness. And it feels…silly? to feel washed up at 25. I get a lot of eye-rolls and “you’ve got your whole life ahead of you”. And while that may be true, it’s very unhelpful. The average age of marriage in my social circle is 21. So nearly everyone I know is married and has kids. Meanwhile, I am single, jobless, degree-less, and love-life-less. I don’t feel free like I think I should.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00388929873803169413 Kristen

      If I had made this comment on a blog when I was 25 and was feeling like you, I would want someone to have said this to me:

      If you don’t do something about these feelings now, you’ll be feeling the same way at 35 and you’ll be that much closer to old than you are at 25. Trust me when I say that when unhappy and just struggling through, 10 years can go by in the blink of an eye. 2 years is a long time to be struggling and feeling sad especially about something that has ended. If you aren’t already, I hope you consider talking to someone who can help you work through all this. Please forgive me if I’ve been out of bounds or pushy. Like I said, I wish someone had said something similar to me at 25. I could have found happy a lot faster.

    • Not Sarah

      After a break-up I always re-evaluate what I want my life to look like in each of the following areas:
      1) Living situation (city, home layout, roommates or non, neighbourhood, decorating)
      2) Career (job, manager, coworkers, product)
      3) Money
      4) Fitness (frequency, diversification, duration, social)
      5) Social (frequency, diversification, duration)
      6) Intellectual (education, reading, etc.)
      7) Food (cooking, baking, etc.)
      I paint a picture of what my ideal life would look like. And then I take a stab at “fixing” each area individually, trying to fix the worst offender first at all times. Sometimes solving one big one makes all the other ones not so bad and less urgent to solve.

      I recently went through a phase where I felt guilty over everything. Forcing myself to not feel guilty/silly to want to sleep in, to want to stay up late, to want to eat junk food, to work strange hours some days, etc. was a HUGE revelation for me and my mental health. It is totally okay to not feel okay. It is totally okay to feel washed up. But you also need to define what YOU want YOUR life to look like, in an ideal world, in a vacuum. What your friends have doesn’t have to be what you want. You don’t have to want to be married and to have kids. Are you still on your parents’ health insurance? They should have therapy benefits.

      • http://Brokensaucer.blogspot.com Sera

        I love LOVE this list. I’m so bad at lists and creating a call to action. But this is in a sense a simple yet thoughtful list. It at once can show you what is right and what may be wrong. It’s important to see what is right when your endeavoring to fix what’s wrong. Thank you

      • Sabee

        I am doing this is a round-about way. I’m going back to school in August, not to finish my degree but to start a new one, because it’s what I want . I’m currently living with my parents, in a town where I can’t really afford to get my own place. (So, Living Situation= Undesirable) I also have no friends here, and my resume/financial history/background scream TRAIN WRECK. I feel like I’m wearing all my mistakes around my neck, when all I really want is to prove that I am smarter/better than my past.
        I know what I would like my life to look like, what would make me happy, but I just need someone to see past the wreckage. I wish I could point to the person I was when I graduated high school. That kid had a bright future. :\

        • Cleo

          You still have a bright future! You’re going back to school to get a degree doing what you want to do! That’s amazing!

          Just because you’re not where 10 (or 5 or 2 or 1 or .1)-years-ago-you thought you’d be now doesn’t mean you’ve failed, you’re just living a different path than the one you anticipated.

        • Aims

          Sabee,

          To me, it sounds like you’ve given up on yourself (I could be wrong, of course). In order to find the people who will give you a chance, you need to believe in yourself and your value.

          Resumes can be written to make anything seem great. Let yourself of the hook for the things you consider “train wrecks” and work really hard to pull out the positives. Focus on what you’ve learned and work hard at writing amazing cover letters to show your value.

          Every time I am ready to look for a new job, I write myself a list of non-negotiables. Things such as minimum pay, type of environment, management style, type of work, etc. I even go so far as to think about what type of clothes I want to wear (casual dress is important to me! lol). This helps me to define what I want and structure my search accordingly, then I write myself a list of all the things that I have to contribute to this type of position. I use my friends and family, past coworkers, clients or anyone else who has a positive view about something I’ve done to help me construct a better resume/application. This helps me boost my confidence which then helps me do well in an interview. When I interview, I remember that I am interviewing them as much as they are interviewing me. This is another tactic to boost my confidence.

          Anyway, sorry for the off topic comment. I’ve just felt the way you have, Sabee, and it took me years to recover. Hopefully this will help you get there a little faster.

  • NTB

    This was great to read. Thank you for your courage to share.

    I am in a place right now where I don’t know if I can accept things that are going on in my marriage. I don’t know how much of it is just ‘me’ getting used to being married (we’re not even at a year yet) or if the relationship just needs to grow and mature a little more before I make a decision.

    Things have come up that I was literally unaware of before we got married. And I’m not talking about how he folds his laundry or how he puts dishes away. I lived with parents, roommates, etc. before getting married, but I never lived with my husband before we got married. So all of this is new to me. And it’s kind of a junk show.

    Do we seek therapy? Do we decide to just let go? I am desperate to know how other women have ‘decided’ that enough was enough and what kinds of issues drove them to the edge of saying ‘I’m done.’

    • anon for this

      Hi, I’m in the same place right now, more or less. I’ve also been married for less than a year, though I did live with my husband before we were married. If I’m honest with myself, our problems started while we were still engaged, but momentum and/or hope carried us through the wedding. We have different ideas about what it means to be married and I feel like the fact of being married has sent my husband into this fear-of-commitment spiral where he doesn’t contribute on an emotional level to our marriage and is quite critical of me (and he broke my trust by kissing another woman last fall, which was explicitly against our relationship agreements, and then trying to brush it off as “no big deal”), and then when I distance myself or put up walls to protect myself emotionally, he feels I am not engaged in our relationship either, and so…

      Last week I got an email from an internet service that lets you write letters to your future self and stores them until it’s time to send them to you. I had written the letter five years previously, just a few weeks after I’d started seeing my now-husband. I told my future self about the things that mattered to me. The same things still matter to me, and different things. I read the letter and then sat down to write another letter to me-in-five-years. I wrote a lot of things, about where I am now and where I want to be, but I was both surprised and not surprised to discover that the main thrust of the letter was, “if you still feel so unhappy and lost when you read this in five years, leave.” Does that mean I should leave now? The comments on this entry are full of “I should have know when I started asking the question that the answer was yes.” But I have known my husband to be a kind, sensitive, unbelievably supportive partner, who challenges me and comforts me. He has not been that person with any consistency for over a year, but how am I to know he will not be that person again? He’s in grad school and grad school sucks. But it’s temporary. Is that an excuse? Is there any possible excuse for his neglect of our relationship? I don’t know.

      A few months ago I saw a video of a snippet of an interview with Linda McCartney. In it, she’s asked something along the lines of “what’s the secret to a long marriage?” She laughs and just says, “don’t get divorced.” I think this has been my idea of marriage — stick it out. It is my #1 priority. But it is not my husband’s #1 priority. I don’t think considering my relationship and my husband my #1 priority necessary means our relationship will be unequal — but for it to be equal, I have to be his #1 priority as well. I am not, and our relationship is not equal. I don’t know if this is fixable. Maybe it’s a fundamental difference in values.

      We talk pretty regularly about this. When I tell him I am not sure we should be married (not stated as a threat), he does his best for awhile to be supportive and loving. He likes to be with me, but we want different things in our relationship, I think. I want lifelong commitment. He wants a girlfriend. Which is okay. But not what I want. I don’t know.

      • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00388929873803169413 Kristen

        ““if you still feel so unhappy and lost when you read this in five years, leave.” Does that mean I should leave now?”

        No. I don’t think that this means you should leave now. But I also wonder if 5 years isn’t an awful long time to be unhappy before you get the next letter giving you permission to leave.

        As Meg said below, we should be careful about passing judgement on anyone else’s relationship and whether they’ve tried enough. But you can. You can pass judgement on your own relationship. Maybe you need to have a long talk with yourself about how you truly feel, whether you think this unhappy you feel currently is something that only time can fix or if perhaps actual active work could fix it. There are lots of questions it might help to ask yourself. Maybe write yourself a letter and have it sent to you in a month. Or 6 months. But please don’t resign yourself to 5 years of possible unhappy because the secret of long marriage is not getting divorced.

      • Marguerite

        Your last couple of sentences really resonated with me, but probably not for the reasons you’d like to hear. It’s the crux of the reason my 10-year relationship ended almost two years ago. He wanted a girlfriend, but I needed something different than just a boyfriend. I’d hoped that we’d grow into it, but it didn’t happen. Sending you much support and virtual hugs. Trust your instincts. If you do end it, know that happiness and good things are on the other side of this awful process. I’m doing great, and I’m on excellent terms with my ex. :-)

      • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

        If you’re comfortable with it, this is where I’d suggest seeking some outside help. It sounds like you two have done a lot trying to resolve your issues with just the two of you involved and maybe you’ve reached an impasse there if you’re talking about it calmly and regularly without reaching a fix that lasts.

        It’s possible a counsellor or religious official could help you guys get on the same page about values and priorities, whether its together or apart.

      • dawn

        Hi –
        As has been stated numerous times on this thread, we can’t judge other people’s relationships.
        At the same time, this thread is, understandably given the original post, focused on ending relationships. Based on some of what you write, it sounds like you’re not at all sure that you’re in a situation that requires the end of the relationship. Some have suggested counseling, some kind of out-side perspective, clergy support, etc. I think you should try at least one of these options, with your husband, as well as setting aside serious time to focus on your relationship, again with your husband. He needs to know your perspective, and it sounds like he needs to be willing to give time and energy to your relationship.

        Maybe a weekend away in which you talk through issues in your relationship would be a good idea. I’m haven’t been in your situation, but based on what I’ve heard and read, you might consider something like a marriage-focused weekend. I’m not sure what to suggest other than Retrouvaille, which is Catholic (I’m not Catholic, but since the Catholic Church is very interested in supporting marriage, they have this program. You don’t have to be Catholic to do it http://www.retrouvaille.org/ ).I’m sure there must be other religious and non-religious options.

        The reason I suggest a weekend away is because you said that your husband is in grad school, and you specifically mention the possibility that that is part of the problem. I’ve just finished a PhD, and I can tell you that being in grad school can be ridiculously, intensely stressful. I am so grateful to my partner for putting up with me and supporting me through the process. Grad school can make it so, so hard to focus on anything else. Your program wants everything from you. Getting out of the routine, and out of the house, may be the best way to help your husband break out of the grip of grad school for long enough to focus on your marriage.
        Whatever happens — all the best.

      • Sam

        I just want to add this bit of information. Just like the last reply, I have gone through grad school (for architecture) and watched relationships scatter and break throughout (including mine). I can tell you that for sure his school situation has bearing here (not that it excuses it, but it bears on the situation). At least it did for everyone of my cohort. It is brutal, they tear you down, make you question your worth as a human being and then expect creative work (or is that just architecture?). As I said, MANY relationships did not make it through. And it wouldn’t necessarily be school’s ‘fault’ if yours didn’t. I think grad school can change a person. Maybe temporarily, maybe permanently. I would encourage you to think about that possibility before making any decisions to stay for sure or to go.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00388929873803169413 Kristen

    Apologies upfront because I’m obviously playing advice columnist here in the comments section, but here’s what I literally thought when I read your compelling and moving thoughts and questions:

    Honey, if you spent the time, energy and money on a wedding, surely you can put the same amount into the marriage.

    That seems like how a brazen advice columnist would say it. But I think my point is, you cared enough to marry him, and go through all that entails, lots or little as the case may be but at the least you made a legal agreement to stick with him. Counseling, (together or if he refuses by yourself) is the least you could do for your marriage before hitting the breaking point.

    • meg

      While I think going to counseling is almost always the place you should start (though even marriage counselors will tell you sometimes things are too far gone by the time they arrive on the scene), not all marriages can or should be saved. That’s just the brutal truth.

      I do think we need to be very careful making assumptions about relationships we’re not in. It’s easy to pass judgement and say, “hey, you didn’t work hard enough.” But to be honest? We have no idea. And sometimes it has nothing to do with how hard we work. There are times when you just marry the wrong person. I’ve seen many friends go through that. They married young and unwisely, and all the counseling in the world was only going to help both parties figure out how to end it. And when they did end it, both of them (and the kids, when there were kids) were finally able to start thriving.

      • Class of 1980

        I didn’t do counseling, but I made that decision mindfully. Counseling could not have fixed what ailed us – not even 100 years of counseling.

        My decision was like a thunderbolt out of the blue. One day, I thought we’d always be married, and literally the next day I wanted out. I think this is probably unusual, but it was a measure of how much in denial I was. When I woke up, I woke up hard and fast.

        I sat down and wrote out six pages of why I wanted out, without even hesitating between sentences.

        That said, counseling can fix relationships that are not wrong in the first place, which mine was.

        I did see a psychiatrist during the divorce because I was an emotional wreck, but to be honest, it was a complete waste of time. I think I just got an untalented one.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00388929873803169413 Kristen

      Yes! Thank you Meg, so totally true! Counseling actually helped me to figure out that I should LEAVE a relationship so yes to counseling not necessarily “fixing” everything but it can be quite helpful in achieving clarity. And yes to not knowing what goes on in someone else’s private life. My apologies again for being perhaps too blase about the question. It’s not easy or fun to feel the way NTB obviously feels and no one else can tell you how to live your life. So to answer the specific question posed:

      “Do we seek therapy? Do we decide to just let go? I am desperate to know how other women have ‘decided’ that enough was enough and what kinds of issues drove them to the edge of saying ‘I’m done.’”

      I use therapy. It helps when you need to make a tough decision. And its harder for me to second guess a big choice if I personally feel I did all I could to fix a problem before walking away from it, and that means something different to each of us. GOOD LUCK!!!

      • NTB

        Thank you both. I think there’s a lot of wisdom in what you have said.

        We got married in June last year. I think I had this grand idea that we were going to agree on everything and basically live harmoniously because that’s what I grew up with. My parents to this day will admit there were hard times, but they shielded me from those conflicts. So I feel like I went through childhood and young-adulthood with the idea that my parents were basically saints, and that marriage was some kind of church cake walk. Not the case, obviously.

        Merging money, fertility, managing stress at work and at home, managing the day to day, while trying to remember why we fell in love and why we got married—these things continue to challenge both of us. Welcome to real life, I guess. ;)

        I am very traditional and so is my husband. We are religious and I think our faith has made us stronger as a couple in many ways. Everyone finds strength in different things, and religion is not the answer for everyone, and I totally respect that. But it’s one of the only things that is helping us through this time. I didn’t expect this to be the case. But I firmly believe that these first 1-2 years will be a time of great adjustment and we will hopefully learn to live with more respect for each other’s needs.

        …and of course, APW continues to be a source of great help and inspiration. To all of the women who post here…you will never know what this ‘place’ means to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

        • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00388929873803169413 Kristen

          Thank YOU! *Internet hug*

        • Not Sarah

          When I was trying to fix my last relationship (before I decided I was giving up), a friend suggested I work to fabricate romance, to find ways to enjoy each other’s company away from the frustrations of daily life. That definitely helped sometimes when things weren’t so good.

          Sending many internet hugs your way!!!

  • http://Brokensaucer.blogspot.com Sera

    Thank you. I don’t have much to say other than this resonates with me in many ways. I am now happily married to the man of my dreams, but I wouldn’t have met him if I hadn’t have left the worst relationship of my life. Sometimes change is good even if its hard and painful and ugly, the end result is better than we could have imagined.
    To me, this post is about having the confidence to leave anything that is not working in our lives. There is more, there is something better. And, being with ourselves, learning who we are, learning how to pump gas, is how we find out what we need and how to love ourselves more.

  • HalfPint1011

    Jennifer, thank you for this.

    I made the decision to leave my husband last year, after attending one of my dearest friend’s wedding. I saw the love she and her husband shared and realized that my marriage held zero semblence of love, caring, gratitude or emotion. It was just kind of … there. More of a status than a relationship of any sort. So I left, and I lived by myself for the first time, in a big, pretty apartment with pretty, new furniture in a pretty neighborhood. And it was terrifying. On those cold nights when my friends would be curled up with their husbands, I was curled up with my laptop and the latest overly-depressing Michelle Williams movie about a crumbling partnership. But I did it. I saw money come and go, I learned to subsist off Sriracha, toast and determination. I drank bourbon at the bar by myself and danced in my kitchen as though I belonged in a White Snake video.

    Now, I’m living in a dumpy apartment, working a crappy job but am happy every day because I have a man by my side who fights for me, who strives to make me happy and who shows me every day what it’s like to be loved. A man, who as I write this is washing the dishes, because I made breakfast and that’s our deal.

    While making the decision to leave my husband was scary and difficult and emotional and overwhelming, it was also a relief. I was terrified of what those around me would say, but I received an almost-overwhelming amount of support from my little community. Because what really matters, in the end, is being happy. And I’m finally happy.

  • Jackie

    This article could not have come at a more relevant time in my life. I am about to leave work (in 15 minutes) to meet my husband for our first couples therapy appointment.

    We’ve only been married a little over 2.5 years, but we were engaged and living together for 3 years before that. Things were bad before the wedding, but I just felt too caught up in everything to walk away. I know that if I could do it all over again, I would not have married him. Somehow though, that still does not definitively answer my question of whether or not to leave.

    Like Maddie’s mom, my husband does not seem emotionally invested in our relationship. He is also deeply unhappy with himself, and frequently puts me down or criticizes me in order to feel better. I can say with certainty that it is VERY hard to be married to someone who doesn’t even like himself.

    After a full year of being completely unhappy, I discovered that my husband has been having an emotional affair over Facebook. In a way, making that discovery felt like a relief. He finally agreed to go to counseling, and it has pushed me to the point where I feel like I can make a decision. I’m going to give counseling my all, but if it doesn’t work, I think I’ll finally have the clarity to walk away.

    This article touched on so many of my fears though. I have never lived alone. I went straight from my mom’s house to college roommates to living with my husband (then fiance). We own a house that we have been trying to flip ourselves so there is no way we can just go ahead and sell it right away (it’s a construction zone). My biggest fear though is that I’ll regret leaving him.

    It’s all just so hard. And scary.

    • Marguerite

      So many hugs to you, darlin.

    • Katie

      Hugs and love to you. I just left my partner of 6 years and I had several of the same fears – I had never lived on my own, financial situation wasn’t good, etc. I am not saying that you should or shouldn’t leave, because only you will know what you need. But know that if you do leave it is hard and scary but you can be strong and pull through and do it.

  • http://historynpearls.blogspot.com Amber

    This is exactly what I needed today. Great writing as well as a moving post.

  • http://thedailyfifteen.wordpress.com/ Brandi

    I wish I had had these words when I was going through my divorce, almost 10 years ago.

    Married at 19, divorced at 22. I knew it was bad the day after the wedding, if I hadn’t been kidding myself, I would have know it was bad when we decided to get married to “fix” things. He was cheating, and somehow a strange mutual decision was made to get married. Over the 2.5 years of our marriage, we fought. Mostly about sex. I wanted less than he did, but when I did make an effort, he would reject me. I stood naked in front of the television one day, he asked me to move so he could play his game. “This is more fun than you are.”

    I was broken, completely isolated, and lost. I decided to change the isolated part, and he freaked out. He wanted me isolated, I didn’t realize until that time. Scary stuff.

    I began to push for kids, I thought that would “fix” things. I had made promises, I keep my word, I would somehow make this work. He unloaded on me. Told me everything he had ever told me he wanted from our life together was a lie. He told me to take the damn dog he never wanted and leave. Thank goodness my parents lived close by.

    I dealt with things being over, I filed the divorce papers because my ex would have drug his feet. I lived with my parents until I couldn’t stand it any longer. I got a weird roommate. I figured out on my own I was not a failure because no one in my life was capable of telling me that. They thought I was. I gave up on promises I had made. They have since come around.

    I met my now husband very shortly after my divorce was final. I have never felt anything but love and support from him. He has helped me figure out how to build my own foundation. I feel solid in the knowledge of who I am now, not having that is why I think I didn’t really think the first time through. I was doing what I was supposed to do, blindly. Bad idea.

    I’m glad I have the lessons from my first marriage, and I’m glad he kicked me out. I probably would have never left on my own.

  • Jackie

    This post is both reassuring and scary to me. My fiance and I went through a difficult patch a few months ago. He was worried that I wasn’t the one, I was terrified he was going to leave me. I gave him an ultimatum that I would leave today and we would be broken up, or he would make the decision to stay. I would not have given the ultimatum except for the fact that this is not the first time that he thought about leaving. About a year ago he had doubts, we talked through it, and he said they were resolved. He has always had trouble telling me what he needs and if he is unhappy which is why I think he kept doubting. His doubt inevitably made me doubt and question and I am still struggling to trust him. That being said, we are in a better place now. He seems truly happy as am I. We are planning on going to couple’s counseling before we get married to further strengthen our relationship and rebuild that trust.

    What I’m trying to say is that sometimes it is difficult to distinguish doubts from fears, or rather real fears from scared fears. Is it cold feet? Is there something else your life that you need to figure out? This can be difficult to know. Both of our parents were divorced so I think we are constantly asking ourselves the question, is this right? I know it is, I am sure, but sometimes I have to reevaluate to silence those fears. We are both young and he is my first boyfriend, first everything. That makes things even more scary because how can I be sure if I have never been with anyone else? The truth is, I know, that I can’t be, but we both have to take the leap together.

    Wow, this was longer than anticipated.

    • Jessica

      Jackie, I haven’t commented before on APW but I wanted to say that I agree with you about feeling scared and reassured at the same time while reading this post. My fiance and I have also had discussions about whether we are really each other’s one person forever and have had doubts about marriage. We talked it through as well and I thought we had dealt with it and moved forward (even though there is no 100% guarantee for marriage, let alone anything in life) but a recent issue regarding his ex-girlfriend has shaken me to the core and made me doubt my own feelings and trust for him.We have started counseling and I feel that the issue is resolvable but I wish it had never happened in the first place so I don’t have something I need to forgive and forget.

  • Elizabeth

    “Be loved. Know that you will feel loved when sh*t unexpectedly hits the fan in life.”

    Yes, this. So much.

  • SusieQ

    So interesting that this realization came to you on a trip without your husband. I had a breakup that I realized I needed in exactly the same way.

    I was on a trip with friends, not including the boyfriend, hoping for clarity. Even though I don’t believe in it, I joked about looking for a sign, I tried to find a good palm reader…anything to give me a push. Then one night we couldn’t get into a restaurant and I got annoyed and stomped off in the rain and sat on a curb. I realized that, even sitting on a curb in the rain, annoyed and hungry, I was having a better vacation without him than I would have had with him. The decision was calm and certain. I broke up with him the moment I returned, and it was the second best thing I ever did.

    For me, I needed to be out of my usual life to get it. Something about vacation brain just made it clear to me.

  • karin

    I’m reading APW because my 30 year old daughter is engaged and tryig to stay sane. So we bought the APW book and we both read the blog. Most of the time the posts are about young women like my daughter, going into marriage for the first time, and that’s cool. That’s why we read the blog, after all, for sane wedding ideas. But this post blew me away. Your mom could be ME. I went thru and came out the other side of this exact same thing. After 22 years of marriage I knew with all my heart that this was NOT MY LIFE. My friends and family did think I had lost my mind, but the only thing that really scared me was the reaction of my (2) daughters, which was not good in the beginning. But a few years later we have worked it out and the three of us are stronger than ever. Thank you for making me feel validated in doing what was the right thing for ME. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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  • SarahT

    Thanks for this brave post! I started over after 17 years of marriage, in that hit-by-a-train-he-left-for someone-else sort of way. It was terrifying and humiliating to navigate through a high-profile train wreck, but eventually it became clear-I didn’t have to let anyone else define who I was. To my husband I was obviously not as attractive as his much-younger girlfriend. To employers I was not as experienced as those who had been in the workforce longer, and to society I was a failure on many levels-older, divorced, financially insecure. But none of those people get to tell me what my life is going to be, or what my value is. One particularly hard night I decided that even if everyone else rejected me, I would choose me. I would choose to love myself and believe in myself. I felt like buying myself a ring-I CHOOSE ME!! I am more than my marital status or employment status. I choose me, with all my good points and bad; with the things I’m most proud of and the things that make me weep with regret. I choose me-for richer or poorer, for better or worse, to love and cherish until I die. Five years later, it’s still true, and the basis for all my relationships since then-including my marriage a week ago!!-is that I have already chosen me.

  • Aurélie

    Thank you so much.
    I’m in the process of leaving. I’ve been for quite a while actually, but now it’s real. And terrifying. But not sad. All the tears have been shed long ago.
    I hadn’t expected the vast void into me. We hadn’t be really in love for years, but we’ve been each other’s life for so long. It’s like tearing my life in two.
    Well, thank you for the words and the courage and for leading the way.
    See you on the other side?

  • figuring it out

    Thank you so much for this beautiful post. I realize that this comment is late, but I have been fighting the urge to leave my relationship (now marriage) for quite some time because it is one of those relationships where there is nothing overtly wrong with it. My husband is an incredible man who I respect very much, but if I’m honest, I haven’t been in love with him for years.

    Additionally (or perhaps as a part of that), I feel like I never gave myself the opportunity to choose me above all else and explore fully who I am and what I want. I’ve been in this relationship for all of my 20s and am feeling so much like I just want the freedom to make mistakes and figure out what I want and need out of life, out of relationships, etc. I don’t really love myself, and if I don’t love myself, how could I possibly love someone else fully? Not that I think leaving my husband will miraculously make me love myself, but I think it could be a way of honoring what I have been feeling for years instead of ignoring it because it doesn’t seem rational.

    I used to think that if I made the rational decision (which to me, at the time, seemed to be to marry this man who is wonderful and who loves me incredibly and who knows what he wants from life and is kind and generous, while ignoring the part of me that broke out in hives when talking about the wedding, or panicked at the thought of marriage, or almost backed out of the room when he proposed before mustering a shaky “okay”), everything else would fall into place. I would learn to love him better. We would work out our sexual problems, stemming primarily from the simple fact that I no longer wished to have sex with him. I would work harder. That the little part of me that felt drained at the thought of just spending a night home with him would get quieter and quieter until it disappeared completely. That it was normal to want to spend time with friends more than I wanted to spend time with him. Because, look at him! He’s great and smart and funny and why *wouldn’t* I want to spend the rest of my life with him?

    And now, sadly, I am realizing that the little part of me that did not want the relationship, the small part of me that I buried and ignored and tried to pretend was never there in the first place has only grown louder. It is devastating and confusing and sad, but learning to understand myself has been one of the most liberating and most terrifying experiences I’ve ever had. I don’t know what will happen, but I have got to trust myself, because if I don’t, who will?

    • Me too

      Thank you so much for this comment. I feel like I could have written it myself. I don’t understand exactly how my feelings faded, but I’m feeling increasingly trapped, and then guilty that I should *try harder* to feel differently. There are so many daily logistics that work well enough that I feel stupid for wanting things to change.

  • April

    Thank you so very much. I left an 18 year marriage four months ago. Thank you so much.

  • Aatika

    I have tears in my eyes..for 8 long years I was scared of walking out of something that was unsuitable for me. Eventually he dumped me n I was devastated but it took me 2.5 years of finding what I want and am still in the healing process

  • Sherrie

    “Never in my life have I seen magic work so fast. I ordered a love spells from drstanleyspelltemple@hotmail.com because my man was acting like he didn’t want to be with me anymore and spending less time with me before we broke up and i ask Dr. Stanley to cast a love spell on him to make him love me again and come back to me which he did and in the next 24hours after the spell was cast my man came to my house to beg for forgiveness and ask me to accept him back. Thank you Dr. for your help…Sherrie