If you put a frog in boiling water it jumps out immediately and this reduces the risk of it boiling to death, however if you put a frog in cold water and gently heat the water up it will not try to jump out and will boil to death. This was me in my marriage – slowly boiling to death – I just didn’t know it.
I didn’t realise how unhappy I was until my husband went away for a few days. Not having to walk on eggshells around someone else’s anger, and not having to put myself ‘second’ with everything I did and said, I could breathe again and found a sense of peace and calm. I realised that I’d been living like a boiling frog for 7 long years.
Admitting the truth that my marriage was causing me so much unhappiness was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to face up to. At first we looked to counselling to change our marriage, but when that got us nowhere, I knew my only other option was to walk away. I had to say ‘I don’t.
Apart from my own guilt and sense of ‘failure’, I also carried guilt for our son who at just 3 years old would be the product of a ‘broken home’. On this point however, I was reassured by extensive research that shows children who are raised by single parents are at no more risk of emotional distress than children who live with parents who argue and resent each other.
I decided that, although far from ideal, no marriage was better for our son than our bad marriage. Our inevitable divorce was not pretty. My solicitor tells me my divorce was above average on the hostility warfare scales and at one point I had £55,000 on 7 credit cards to pay my legal bills. I had some days when I just wanted to stay in bed and cry.
However, after all the arguing and fighting is over. there are lots of benefits. They range from being able to parent my son in a way I feel is best for him, to realising that sex can be a pleasurable experience and not something to endure. However the biggest gifts I gained from my divorce are courage, self-confidence and a belief that I could handle being alone. My self-worth and self-respect are much stronger for having survived the challenging situation of divorce and being single.
People ask me if I’m happier now and I undoubtedly am, but there are still challenges, the biggest being having full financial and emotional responsibility for my son. However, stepping off the rollercoaster of resentment, frustration, bitterness and emotional game playing that my life had descended into has brought me a sense of peace that more than makes up for the challenges of coping as a lone parent. The independence I now have has made me psychologically grow up and feelings of anxiety, fear and stress have disappeared.
5 things that will help you handle your unhappy marriage If you’re at the point of having to make some difficult decisions about your marriage, this may help you to focus your thinking.
1) Admit to yourself that your marriage may need looking at. For as long as you brush it under the carpet both you and your partner are going to keep tripping over that huge lump in the middle of the floor of every room in your home. Have an honest conversation with your partner to see how they are feeling. Do they want to admit they are not happy with the situation?
2) Examine your values. Are they the same, do you want the same things in life, do you support each others ideas, dreams and visions, do you want each other to be happy, are you working towards the same goals in life, enjoy doing the same things, is family important or is work more important?
3) Ask yourself if you think marriage counselling will help. Often this validates your marriage is over. If your partner is reluctant to try counselling, this can be an indication that they don’t share your commitment to wanting to make it work.
4) Deciding to end your marriage is like any project – you have to do your research. Look into rent prices, any benefits you may be eligible for. Many solicitors give one hour’s free consultation to outline the legal processes and timescales. Talk to divorced friends about their experiences of divorcing and what they wish they’d known before they went through the process.
5) Your body and sub-conscious feelings give you clues as to whether it’s right to stay or go. Not wanting sex, preferring to be on your own or with friends rather than be with your partner, feeling resentful when he or she walks through the door, getting angry and frustrated towards your partner more often than feeling loving and calm. Don’t ignore these feelings – they are sending you important messages about your happiness, both now and into the future.
Divorce is ranked second in the league table of most stressful life events. Coping mechanisms are needed whilst you are going through it, however this can show you the strength you hold inside and you will be able to handle it Looking back, my divorce was one of the most emotionally draining and sleep depriving situations I have ever faced but when I turn the bedside light off at night I know that tomorrow will be another day when I’m in charge of my life and my emotions.
If you want to be in charge of your emotions and regain your power then contact Rachael now for 121 sessions to help you cope with separation and divorce 07966523781. These can be over the telephone. Skype or via emails.
Alternatively check out my book – I Can Handle…Divorce to help you gain clarity on choices you have going forward.