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Should I Leave My Marriage? — Some Further Reflections

September 24th, 2018 · No Comments · should I leave my marriage

Should I leave my marriage?  As we saw in the last post, this is an agonizing question for many people.  In this post we’ll be looking at some other related key questions.

should i leave my marriage

SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?

Having been divorced, I’ve experienced how complex the question “Should I leave my marriage?” can be.  Often, it seems there are a lot of more specific questions about our lives that we may have to answer before we can give a firm “yes” or “no” to the question of leaving or staying.
Once again in this post, the focus will be on the questions that an individual must face, rather than those questions that might be more appropriately worked on by a couple in couples’ therapy.  There most certainly is a very important dimension of individual decision-making involved, and that’s what we’ll be looking at here.
So what kind of questions might precede a decision to stay or go in a marriage?  There are very many, but here are a few important ones that the individual may have to contend with.
Can I really find what I need in this marriage?  This broad question requires being generally honest about all aspects of the marriage, and how it really fits with what we need.
Is marriage really for me?  Perhaps I have to be honest in confronting whether I’m really well-suited to being tied down in any marriage?
Do I really love somebody else?  Have I gotten involved with someone else?  And, if I have, the real test of honesty may be in asking — is my “outside” relationship a love relationship, or is something else going on?
What about my unlived life?  Are there fundamental aspects of who I am that I really need to live out, in some form — and, if so, are they compatible with this marriage?
What, really, is keeping me in this marriage?  Love?  Kids?  Fear?  Money? Sense of duty or guilt?

Facing Key Questions May Mean Facing the Shadow

Answering the questions above may well mean that I have to confront what Jungians call the shadow, which C.G. Jung once defined as “that in ourselves which the ego refuses to acknowledge.”  In other words, it is those aspects of our whole personality that everyday consciousness is not comfortable with, and would sooner pretend don’t exist — all our thoughts, feelings, desires and intuitions that are not acceptable.

Is the shadow evil?  No, not necessarily.  It may contain parts of ourselves that, for some reason or other we find it very hard to acknowledge, but which may actually be very precious.  Does the shadow contain evil?  Yes it might well contain some things that don’t fit with our espoused values or morals at all.  It may be extremely hard to accept or admit that these thoughts or feelings are there.  Yet acknowledging their existence may be absolutely essential to our well-being, our wholeness as a person — and to having any kind of healthy perspective on our marriage.

You Can Run, But You Probably Can’t Hide

The shadow is hard to face.  It leads us to ask questions like those above, and the answers may not always be very easy to tolerate.  Yet,  depth psychotherapists know that a prolonged refusal to look honestly at our feelings, thoughts and reactions in marriage in a self-compassionate way can lead to lasting trouble.  If we fail to look at our real thoughts, feelings, yearnings and resentments, it can certainly pave the way to anxiety and/or depression, possibly quite severe in character.  It might also lead to a host of other issues, such as self-medication with various forms of addiction  — from gambling to alcohol to porn to drugs to work — or physical illness.

Leaving or Staying — But First, Facing the Questions

The best way to come to terms with the “should I leave my marriage” question is to identify, face, and do our best to answer some of those tough, more specific questions about your marriage as described above.  Trying to be as honest with yourself as you can be is a key element.  It’s often a great deal of benefit to consult with a depth psychotherapist when considering the question of leaving or staying in a marriage, or dealing with any other major life transition.  It can be of tremendous value to gain knowledge of yourself and to gain support for yourself in the midst of such a demanding time.

Brian  Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Psychoanalyst

PHOTOS: Annabella Moore (Creative Commons Licence)
© 2018 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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