My partner and I had our second therapy session this week with a highly trained, intuitive and talented therapist. In the course of the session, however, she said something that has us looking for another therapist. And, it got me thinking about reasons why people should and should not stay married.
She was talking about how, although my partner and I have vastly different tastes and interests in nearly every area of our lives, we are both intense people who go deeply into our interests. She turned to me and said, “Do you really think you’d be able to find someone else to marry who lives so intensely?” WHOA!! First of all, if this marriage ends, the very last thing I ever want to do is get married again. Secondly, I have many people in my life who live deeply and intensely. When I expressed this, she responded, “Yes, but would you want to marry any of them?” To which I replied, “Um, I’ve never thought of them that way because I’m already married and trying to make this relationship work.” But I have no doubt that I would find love again, as would my partner. We’re both attractive, interesting people who are fun to be around.
We were both shocked by her attitude. I’ve never been a fan of scarcity thinking in any facet of life, least of all with love. In fact, the idea of love—real love—can not co-exist with scarcity. Scarcity is an expression of fear, and fear is the opposite of love. Even my partner, who dearly wants us to stay together, was put off by her comments. And we were both put off by her suggestions for how we could connect more deeply.
There are many reasons a couple might stay together in a less than satisfying relationship. Here are some reasons NOT to stay together:
1. Fear of not finding another partner. If you divorce, the only reason I can think of that would prevent you from finding another partner is if you really don’t want one. Maybe you’re holding a torch for your ex, or maybe you’ve become too bitter to enjoy life. Barring those two things, there are plenty of people looking for love.
2. Staying together for the children. Children are highly intuitive. They can tell when their parents don’t love each other, and they usually feel responsible for it in some way. Even when you think you’re not arguing in front of them, they pick up on the vibes of unhappiness.
3. Not wanting to hurt your partner’s feelings. If you no longer love or want to be with your partner, they’ll eventually figure it out. Staying together out of pity is disrespectful to both of you.
4. Feeling like a failure. We can never really know the myriad of reasons two people come together. What may look like a failure of a marriage could really be a wild success in terms of personal or spiritual growth. Judging ourselves like that doesn’t serve us because we can’t see the whole picture.
5. Inertia. Inertia’s a powerful force but it doesn’t serve our growth. If personal growth isn’t a strong value for you, then inertia can be a great ally in keeping a struggling relationship intact. If your goal is to grow into the fullest expression of yourself, then inertia is not your friend.
So it’s back to the drawing board for us. This time we’re looking for a marriage-neutral therapist. And we’re looking for the top five reasons to stay together.