I accepted this false belief as truth for many years as I struggled to make my marriage work; I simply didn’t believe leaving was an option (Catholic upbringing, Irish parents.. enough said!)
And even if you do manage to leave in spite of this belief, it’s effects can linger long after the ink on your divorce papers has dried. It can leave you with feelings of guilt and shame, stemming from the thought that what you did was ‘wrong’ and ‘selfish’.
The myth that can keep us stuck in a bad marriage for years, or a lifetime, is this:
Marriage is for Life
This was very prevalent of my parent’s generation; a time when women had many less choices than we do today. A time when women were not allowed to have a voice. It is a falsehood that many of us inherited and accepted as fact.
But here’s the real truth: None of us entered into our marriage with the intention of one day leaving it. We got married with the very best of intentions. We hoped and believed we were marrying our life-partner.
We didn’t marry for ‘life.’ We married for love.
The message underlying the myth is this:
Whatever is going on in your marriage – suck it up. You made the decision to marry your husband, you knew what you were doing. So get on with it. Don’t complain. That’s just the way it is. You made your bed, now you’ve got to lie in it. Put up and shut up.
But, guess what?
We no longer have to put up and shut up. We are allowed to have a voice. And a choice.
We are allowed to change our minds.
We are allowed to leave.
Marriages breakdown for all sorts of reasons. Many become dysfunctional and unhealthy.
I know from personal experience, and the experiences of the many women I’ve coached, that no woman ever leaves her marriage easily, or without a whole LOT of soul-searching. We are aware of the massive impact such a decision will wreak on the lives of those we love and care about the most, and on our own lives. We don’t ever take that decision lightly.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I will always encourage any woman to find a way to make her marriage work (if that is what she truly wants.) Handling the emotional, physical and financial fallout that dismantling a long marriage entails, particularly when there are kids are involved, is fucking hard. It is not for the faint of heart.
Yet, sometimes it’s the right decision.
And when it is, we can make that choice from a place of self-responsibility and empowerment. We don’t have to blame and shame. Not our husbands. And not ourselves.
We don’t have to feel guilty and selfish for prioritising our own happiness. In fact, we must not.
We can give ourselves permission to create our lives in a way that allows us to live true to ourselves.
And not apologise for it.
How Do We Do That?
We do our own work first.
We tell ourselves the truth.
We stop pointing the finger of blame.
We take responsibility.
We invest the time and get support to understand ourselves and our own behaviour patterns.
We figure out what we want.
We take back our power.
We make ‘clean’ thinking decisions.
And then we fucking own them.
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