A therapist I know once posited that staying married is a choice you make on a daily basis. She said that every morning when you wake up and look over at your snoring spouse, you're deciding—on some level—to stay married one more day. This isn't a psyche-challenging exercise if you're in a good, or good enough, marriage. It's an autopilot decision you don't even know you've made.
But if you're wondering daily whether you're in the right marriage, this decision becomes a gut-wrenching task that occupies every waking thought. You're consumed with the realization that your marriage is on the low end of the proverbial marital satisfaction spectrum. All the more confusing is that you may find yourself moving up and down that spectrum like a zipline gone haywire. One day the marriage seems almost tolerable, the next you're fantasizing about running out for milk and never coming back.
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You know you're unhappy in your marriage when you're always wondering whether or not you're happy. Happily married people aren't asking themselves if they're happy. They just are. And admitting to yourself that you're unhappy in your relationship is not going to top your list of life's great moments. The realization that you have to end your marriage is painful and the timing never feels right. Between your kids' soccer schedules, your full-time job, your sick mother-in-law, your niece's upcoming wedding, your partner's perpetual underemployment and your second mortgage, there's always some excuse to delay the inevitable.
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In my psychotherapy practice, clients often ask me when they'll be completely sure that it's time for a divorce. I tell them that only they can answer that. I also tell them that ready-to-divorce folks often describe a feeling of desperation that engulfs them in a way they've never experienced before. "I felt like if I didn't get out, I was going to die," clients say. Their lives start to feel more like death. Keep reading...
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