What I know for sure is that no responsible person ever contemplates divorce lightly.
From my own personal experience, and the experiences of the many women, and some men, I’ve coached, the decision to divorce is never taken easily.
There is always a whole lot of soul-searching, self-reflection and consideration of the consequences that goes alongside.
And when there are children and their happiness and wellbeing to consider, the sense of responsibility felt is immense.
My clients ask themselves these kinds of heartfelt questions:
- How do I know when I’ve done enough?
- How do I know I’ve really tried everything I can?
- What if I’m ready to call it a day, but later regret my decision?
- What if “I” am the problem and just need to work on myself some more?
- It’s too much responsibility to bear – maybe I should just put up and shut up?
And while self-reflection and self-responsibility are absolutely essential here, these questions are most often fuelled by a bucket load of fear.
Fear of making the ‘wrong’ decision. Fear of being judged. Fear of an unknown future. And on it goes.
‘Giving Up’ vs ‘Letting Go’ – The Difference
So how do you know when ‘enough is enough?’
How do you know you are not ‘giving up’ too soon?
There are no quick and easy answers here, and I won’t pretend there are. It’s an area I often spend several sessions working through with my clients.
But what I can tell you is that ‘giving up’ feels very different to ‘letting go.’
I found this quote recently and it sums up the difference perfectly:
Giving up means selling yourself short
It means allowing fear and struggle to limit your opportunities and keep you stuck
Letting go means freeing yourself from something that is no longer serving you
Giving up reduces your life
Letting go expands it
Giving up is imprisoning
Letting go is liberation
Giving up is self-defeat
Letting go is self-care
— Danielle Koepke
Fear and Judgement
So very often, women are deeply afraid to let go of a relationship that is no longer serving them. That’s understandable. Contemplating an unknown future and all of the financial and emotional turmoil that goes alongside can be terrifying.
So, instead they judge themselves for what they view as ‘giving up’ on the marriage too soon.
And they torment themselves with guilt and feel they are ‘bad’ for even contemplating the notion. They heap another layer of guilt-fuelled thoughts on top of their already conflicted minds.
They tell themselves things like:
- I’m miserable but I’ve got to stay for the sake of the children
- I just need to work on myself more
- I married for life – I can’t just decide to leave because I’m no longer happy
- It would be selfish to put my own happiness first
- I don’t want to hurt my husband and children
These thoughts feel very real. And they are honourable.
But if you dig just a little bit deeper, what lies beneath is another big, fat layer of FEAR.
And so, the guilt-fuelled thoughts provide the perfect ‘justification’ to step away from the fear and stay stuck in an unhappy marriage.
When we go within and really connect with our hearts, I believe we instinctively know whether ending our marriage would feel like ‘giving up’ or ‘letting go.’
And sometimes we are not ready to ‘hear’ what our hearts have to say. It’s too terrifying to contemplate. And that’s okay.
But then we tie ourselves in knots and tell ourselves we’re stuck or it’s too difficult or that we must stay and keep working at it.
We refuse to ‘give up’ on the marriage; instead we give up on ourselves.
We don’t believe we deserve something better. The price tag and the fear feels too enormous.
The first and most important step is telling ourselves the truth about what we truly want. That takes enormous courage.
Then, and only then, can we choose what to do with that information.
And decide how to move forward.
Ready to Uncover Your Truth?
If you’re ready to get to the truth of what you really want in your life and marriage, my brand new group experience, The Untethered Wife will show you how. We start 12th September.
It’s for women like you who are finally ready to answer the question of whether they should stay in their marriages or leave. And who want to give themselves permission to create their ‘right’ lives, by design – however that looks for them.
You’ll be in good company. With expert coaching and support from yours truly, you’ll also have the support and encouragement of other like-minded women on a similar journey to you.
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