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Should I Leave My Marriage? — Some Further Reflections

September 24th, 2018 · 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

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

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Should I Leave My Marriage? — For Many, A Difficult Question

September 17th, 2018 · should I leave my marriage

Should I leave my marriage?  For many people, this is an agonizing question.  In many cases, people may have struggled with it for years — or even decades.

should I leave my marriage

Having been divorced, I know that facing the question of whether to end a marriage and, if so, when and how, can be extraordinarily difficult and painful.
In this post, I’ll be looking at this issue from the perspective of an individual seeking to make the decision of whether or not to stay in a marriage.  Certainly, this is an issue that might get worked on in couples’ work, but it there is also a very important dimension of individual decision-making that is involved, and that is what we’ll be looking at here.

The Dilemma

Someone who is struggling with staying in their marriage, or leaving it, may be doing so for any number of complex reasons.  And actually, it’s a very natural and normal thing for married people to wonder at some point in their life journey whether they want to remain married.  Actually, as Dr. Harville Hendrix stressed, it’s hard to be truly committed to another person and to mutual growth as a couple, if a person is not consciously aware that there’s an alternative to being married.

Yet, it can often happen that the question of “Should I leave my marriage?” becomes crucial and unavoidable.  The sense of happiness or meaning in life, and even a person’s mental and physical health, can hang upon this question.

Often the answer to the question, “Should I leave my marriage?” will not immediately appear to be clear cut.

Not to Decide is to Decide

As mentioned above, individuals can sometimes be stuck in indecision about this question for a very long time.  They may not even acknowledge that “Should I leave my marriage?” is a genuine question for them, effectively staying in a state of denial.  However, as Paul Tillich once said, not to decide is to decide.  If individuals don’t confront the question of whether to stay or go directly, when they are really feeling that their marriage is not fulfilling or affirming in its present form, it can often be a recipe for formidable levels of anxiety and depression.

If marriage is not bringing you the things you feel that you need from a relationship, it’s very important to bring this awareness into consciousness.  Being honest with oneself is crucial!  Pretending that “everything is OK” can be a recipe for spinning away the years and ending up with nothing to show for it but regret.

On the other hand, an impulsive or reactive approach to the relationship, whether staying in it, or leaving it, can also generate heartache.  To make a knee jerk decision to either stay or leave without understanding both why one is reacting the way one is, and also what it is that you really want, can be a recipe for disaster.

Should I Leave My Marriage? — Answering the Question Consciously

A decision to stay or leave a marriage will affect many lives, and not least of all your own.  It’s best to go into a major life transition like divorce — or like seriously re-committing to be in a marriage — with your eyes wide open, and knowing as much as you can possibly know about yourself and your deep motivations.

Depth psychotherapy , where the individual explores all the aspects of his or her marriage, conscious and unconscious, and explores thoroughly the question of “what is it that I really want?”  — can be of invaluable assistance to individuals as they wrestle with this weighty life question.  Knowing and accepting oneself can be an invaluable gift to give oneself, at a time when it may feel like many things in life are up in the air.

Brian  Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Psychoanalyst

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

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