Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Should You Leave Your Marriage?

‘Should I leave my marriage?’ I am often asked this question. Perhaps you have been pondering this yourself. If you have, there are a few things you should know.

In my experience, most people who leave their marriage regret it later. This is because of realizations that surface once they have left. Here are just some examples:

1.I left in a huff when I was really angry and didn’t really mean to leave.

2.I got stubborn. I said I was going to leave, and when he/she called my bluff, I had to carry it out or risk appearing weak.

3.I am unsure why I left. I know we were fighting a lot, but what was the problem? I am still not sure.

4.I took the wrong advice.

5.I thought life was going to be better.

6.I thought I would be happier.

7.I didn’t take responsibility for my part in the problem(s).

8.My ego wouldn’t let me say sorry, even though it was a small thing.

When should you leave your marriage? Leave if there is persistent abuse and your partner is not willing to change. Make sure it is abuse, though, and not an enduring misconception on your part. If you are not sure, talk to a Psychologist who is trained in the issues of abuse and relationships. Even then, be careful because many people carry their own agendas, even professionals, and are too quick to label something as abuse when it is not. One of the biggest errors professionals make is supporting a client’s point of view rife with misperceptions without knowing the context of the problem; in other words, without knowing both sides of the problem. It can and does lead to disastrous consequences.

At this time, simply because I see so many people getting this wrong, I will spend a moment to characterize abuse. The term abuse is defined as the purposeful, deliberate and concerted effort to have power and control over someone through various combinations of belittlement, put-downs, insults, physical assault, financial control, withholding of affection, labeling (for example, referring to the other person as mentally ill), threats of violence towards a person, pets, property or other loved ones, deliberate isolation (from friends, family members and or activities which would empower a person to revolt), mind games, etc. The intent, in the case of abuse, is to crush the other person’s self-esteem so that the abusive partner can dominate them and gain control.

Abuse and abusive behaviour are not necessarily the same thing. We can all do things that would be considered abusive, at times, but that does not necessarily mean that we are abusive. The difference lies in frequency and, as I have previously affirmed, intent. To know for sure whether or not you are in an abusive relationship, you should speak to someone clinically trained not only in the area of abuse but in relationships as well.

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