This guest article from Psych Central was written by Eve Hogan.
Most of us have explored the concept of "deal breakers" in a relationship in the dating phase of our lives. We may have even made lists of what we want and what we don't.
But what about deal breakers in a marriage after you have vowed "forever and ever" no matter what, "in good times and in bad"?
Most of us have pondered the "What if he or she cheats on me?" question but few of us have pondered some other real-life issues.
What if your spouse had told you that they were a virgin when you met, but twenty years later you found out that wasn't true? What if you found out that your partner lied about their age in the beginning and twenty years later you found out your spouse was ten years older or younger than you? What if your partner lied about being married or having children before you met?
Or you found out that they had an abortion? What if you found out after the fact that your partner had a gambling or tax debt that you knew nothing about? What if they told you they had cancer and it wasn't true? What about an unknown crime or jail sentence?
I raise this question because all of these situations have been shared with me by real people, usually with the question, "What should I do?" While that decision will depend on a number of variables that I can't possibly theorize here, I can tell you what to avoid:
- Avoid making up a story that makes you feel even worse. When something like this happens, we tend to fill in the gaps of what we don't know or understand with a story about what might have happened, or worse yet, what this behavior might mean about us or the relationship. For instance, we suddenly decide that everything was a lie, the love was a lie, and that nothing was real just because one thing wasn't true. While that is certainly possible, it is equally possible that that is not the truth. Instead, question your own beliefs. If needed, ask for the truth. Aim to respond to what you know, instead of what you think you know. Always look to see if another story is possible.
- Avoid letting your ego choose the path of your behavior. The ego is hell-bent on protecting us and often creates hell in an attempt to do so. The ego employs manipulative behaviors such as arguing, fighting, withdrawal of intimacy or connection putdowns, sarcasm, gestures, passive-aggressive behaviors, resentment, retaliation and revenge. I assure you, if the original issue doesn’t do the relationship in, the ensuing ego battle of these behaviors will. While these behaviors are understandable, I assure you they will never, ever lead to a healthier relationship with another person, nor toward you feeling good about yourself. Instead, look through the eyes of your soul instead of your ego. If the issue is a deal-breaker and there is no other option, see if you can align with your highest self, practice responsibility, self-mastery and acceptance. Move forward with clarity and strength while removing yourself from the situation. But if it is only your ego that is in pain, consider the options of understanding, compassion, and acceptance before you make any permanent decisions.
You may discover there are other options available to you when you step into the creativity of your spirit. Much akin to the bumper sticker from a few years back, "What would Jesus do?," take a few deep breaths and ask yourself, "What would my soul do?" Make choices out of integrity, responsibility and wisdom. Whether you continue to live with your spouse or not, this choice will make it easier to live with yourself—happily ever after.
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