As women we have a really hard time putting ourselves first.
We believe doing so makes us selfish, self-centred – basically, a complete bitch who cares about nothing and nobody but ourselves.
And it’s not just us who believes this.
In some relationships, our husbands believe it too. And they take every opportunity to remind us of this and reflect it back to us.
These kinds of husbands use this belief as a way of keeping us small and stuck.
The irony is that, in my experience, the very opposite is true.
The women who become my clients could not be further from selfish and self-centred.
They agonise and search their souls, often for years, to find a way to give themselves permission to prioritise their own happiness.
They struggle so long and so hard because they care so much!
And in doing so, these kind, caring women sacrifice their own happiness.
They have been conditioned to believe they are not ‘allowed’ to put themselves first.
Sometimes prioritising ourselves is about pursuing our own interests and passions within our marriages. And being met with resistance, judgement and pushback from our husbands when we do so.
And sometimes it’s about wanting, desperately, to extract ourselves from a marriage we haven’t been happy in for years, if ever.
That’s what I want to address today.
Our Self-Judgement and Fear of the Judgement of Others
We judge ourselves for wanting to leave an unhappy marriage, a relationship that no longer works for us, if it ever did.
We judge ourselves, despite the fact we’ve spent years trying to make it work.
We judge ourselves because we’re finally out of inspiration and ideas.
We have nothing else left to give.
We judge ourselves for daring to want to prioritise our own happiness.
And we fear the judgement and condemnation we’re certain will be heaped upon us by our husbands, our kids, our parents, our friends – if we ever had the gall to leave.
- Why can’t we just settle for what we have, we ask ourselves?
- Who are we to think we deserve more?
- Why can’t we just stop being so selfish and get on with life – it’s not that bad is it?
These are the thoughts that torment us and keep us awake at night.
So, that is what we do.
We put their heads down and we get on with it.
For months. Years. Or decades.
And we stay stuck. And sad. And frustrated.
We feel powerless to change our situations.
Here’s what I want these strong, amazing, loving, compassionate women who wrestle with this ‘stay or go’ dilemma to know:
YOU are your most precious resource.
You have a responsibility to take great care of that resource – physically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually.
When that resource is depleted and exhausted – that is the self we bring to the world. And to the people we love and care about the most, including our kids.
When that resource is nurtured, nourished, happy and fulfilled – this is the self we bring to the world.
Our best self.
Taking the best care of our most precious resource is a win/win.
How we use that precious resource is up to us. It’s within our control.
We are not powerless.
You are not powerless.
Your happiness is your responsibility and yours alone.
Nobody else is going to give you permission to prioritise YOU.
You have to give that permission to yourself.
Intellectually you know this.
But you’re scared shitless.
You’re confused. Conflicted. Torn.
And you’re exhausted by the battle raging within your own mind, let alone the constant conflict outside of it.
I get it. It’s okay to feel this way – it’s to be expected.
Here’s what else I tell my women:
It’s up to You.
You have to decide to prioritise your own happiness – or not.
You get to choose.
If you look five years into the future – what do you see?
What does your life look and feel like?
What kind of woman is your Future Self being in that life?
Do you like what you see there?
Is it the life you want?
If not, what needs to change?
Are you willing to gather your courage and walk through the fear to create that change?
Change can be hard.
Transformation and growth are hard. They’re not for the fainthearted.
There are no shortcuts.
The only way out is through.
To Choose – or Not?
Or do you want to choose – consciously – what you have now?
It’s up to you.
There’s no right or wrong answer. There’s only your answer.
And know your reasons for your choice.
Ask yourself, honestly, if your reasons are fuelled by love or fear.
Ask yourself if you like your reasons.
Whatever you choose is okay.
But stop telling yourself you’re stuck.
Tell yourself the truth.
And understand that You are your own most precious resource.
Treat that resource with the respect she deserves.
Use you wisely.
Struggling to Answer the Question of Whether to Stay or Go in Your Marriage?
Are you trying to decide whether to stay in your marriage or leave and feeling stuck, frustrated and confused? If so, enter your details below for immediate access to my free Mini Guide: Stay Married or Leave? A 5 Step Guide Before You Decide.
In the Guide I explain that ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’ is the WRONG question to ask yourself. I’ll tell you what to ask instead and the five steps you must complete to gain the clarity you desire about the future of your life and marriage.