Monday, February 21, 2011

To Mend or Not to Mend? That is the Question!

By Nigel Lawson

The other day I called up an old musician friend of mine I hadn’t seen in about five years.  He asked how I was doing and how my wife was doing.  When I told him I was divorced,  he sounded shocked and equally embarrassed.  I reassured him I was doing fine, and the break up was really the best thing for both of us.

He inquired more about what led to our break up and what measures we took to try to salvage our marriage.  After answering his questions, he admitted the reason for his interest in my situation was that he himself was contemplating divorce. 

Without going into details, he expressed his unhappiness with his situation at home.  What stood out in our conversation were his overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame over wishing to leave his wife.  Of course his first concern was the well being of his two young children, and how it would affect them. In addition, he was very troubled over the stigma of divorce and how his parents and in-laws would perceive him for wanting a divorce.

I explained to him that being happy is the one thing we do have control over in our lives.  If you are unhappy in a relationship or any unpleasant situation, find ways to change it.  I suggested couples therapy where he and his spouse could discuss their feelings and tackle the issues threatening their marriage.  I even suggested a trial separation to find out if divorce is the choice he and his spouse really wanted to make. 

Using separation as a means to gain insight on your relationship is something I read about in the book Contemplating Divorce   by Susan Pease Gadoua.  She states’ “However, rather than a means to an end, separation can be a helpful tool to stay together.” 

I recommended the book to him in order to address his conflicting feelings and uncertainty about the next chapter of his life.  It discusses the stigma attached to divorce and the unrealistic expectations society places on couples to fulfill the roles of the “perfect spouse,” and it provides insightful activities which will help couples come to one of the most important decisions of their lives.

Obviously it takes more than a band aid to mend a troubled relationship.  It is a commitment to work together and overcome life’s challenges which mends hearts.  Communication is key.  Don’t isolate yourself from your spouse and make this decision on your own.  Together find and utilize every resource available before making your final decision.  And, if you do decide on divorce, make that choice together. 

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