All marriages have their ups and downs, their good times and bad times but what happens when there’s more bad than good? When the sadness outweighs the joy? When the work outweighs the pleasure? Will you have the courage to make a change or will you stick it out in the hope that things may get better?
Today, I’d like to introduce my next guest, Carol Round. Carol has now been divorced of over twelve years. She was married for twenty-eight years and at the time of her divorce her two boys were both in their twenties. She says about every seven years or so her husband would talk about getting divorced but would never take it any further. She didn’t want to end the marriage. She wanted it to last but once her children had left home, the picture changed. Here’s Carol:
I was 16 when I started dating him. I was young and dumb and I got married at 19 years old. I didn’t know what love was. I didn’t know how to make a relationship work. I was just stubborn and thought I would fix it all and we were going to live happily ever after. I’m tenacious.
When I met him, he was very good looking. I had always felt like the wallflower. I was surprised when he asked me to date him, because my younger sister was two years younger, was always the one. She looked more mature than I did. She was the one the boys chased. That helped my self-esteem when this war hero, good looking guy had asked me out, had pursued me. So every time that he wanted a divorce, that was another chipping away at my self-esteem.
I stuck it out for 28 years, because of my sons. He was not physically abusive, but he was emotionally controlling and he wanted a divorce every seven years, because he was not happy and he thought it was with my job to make him happy. We actually separated probably about seven years before the divorce.
We went through counseling, because once again, he wanted a divorce but this time there was another woman involved and she was 20 years his junior. It was his mid-life crisis. He was 45 at the time. On top of that, I was a school teacher and she was one of my former students.
He asked for a divorce but he didn’t want to file. He wanted me to file. So, the following summer, when we were trying to work it out, I got ready to go on a trip. It was an educational trip with our youngest son. My husband mentioned again he wanted a divorce. I said, “OK, fine. When I get back from my trip you can go get your divorce.”
But when I came back, he didn’t want a divorce. That’s when I said, “OK then, we’re going to go through counseling and I’m not going to a man. I’m going to a woman and if you can’t handle that then fine. We’re supposed to get a divorce.”
I remember our son was about 13 or 14 at the time. Anyway, we went to counseling. The counselor said that, because she counseled us together and separately and she told me, “He’s not going to change, because he doesn’t want to. In fact he told me he was happy with who he was.”
But see, he wanted me to change to please him. So, I spent the next nearly seven years after that in counseling, because I wanted our marriage to work.
I had gone back to the counselor we’d seen seven years before and she said, “Carol, you’re telling me the same thing you told me seven years ago and I told you he wasn’t going to change.” She said, “Just go do your own thing and then come home.”
The thing is I didn’t want to go home, especially after our youngest son went to college. I think I was waiting for the end of that seven-year cycle with him asking again for a divorce. She suggested a separation and so I moved out.
Divorce never entered my mind even though with him it was part of the vocabulary for seven years.
The Divorce Coach Says
There’s absolutely nothing wrong in ‘sticking it out’ and people do that for all sorts of reasons. It could be for the kids, it could be for financial limitations, it could be for emotional reasons. If you’re going to be the one to initiate the divorce, then you have to be ready and the timing has to be right.
A key element in being ready is having clarity about your decision and I think doing individual counseling, as Carol did, as opposed to couples counseling can truly help with this. Through individual counseling you can get a much better understanding of your values, your needs and what you want to do with your life. Truly knowing yourself will put you in a better position to make a conscious, intentional decision about your marriage while reducing the fear of making the wrong decision.
What I would discourage you from doing is sticking out because you’re settling, you’re too afraid to consider alternatives.
For more tips on deciding if divorce is right for you, listen to my free audio program.
Carol Round has been a writer her whole life and now writes the A Matter Of Faith blog where she shares inspiration thoughts for daily living. She is the author of Journaling With Jesus.