Considering Divorce

Contemplating divorce?  It’s understandable.

The relationship has become a frustrating place to live. Your partner is obviously capable of showing generous love to the dog or cat as you witness the affection you long for. You cannot remember the last time your partner asked about you, your day orexpressed any interest in you or any aspect of your life.   It’s been years since you fell in love and now, at best you feel like you’re living with a roommate, and at worst, you’re “sleeping the enemy”.

It hurts to live with someone who is resentful and shows contempt instead of love, and seems to go out of the way to avoid you.   Here is one of my favorite quotes: “resentment is like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die”. It’s likely your partner sees similar resentment or contempt in you.

But how do you not feel distant when both of you are so resentful and have been so hurt? How do you forgive and be happy again? “It’s not like a light switch”, you are thinking.

Before we go there, let’s talk about what has occurred so far in your relationship:

1.You met each other.
2.You unconsciously saw intriguing aspects of your partner (your partner was not you).
3.You unconsciously projected many of your own positive qualities onto your partner, and vice versa.
4.You unconsciously projected many of your parents’ traits onto your partner.
5.You both saw potential for mutual beneficence.
6.You committed.
7.The things you fell in love became annoying.
8.Item 2 above became source of conflict.
9.You unconsciously projected many of your own negative qualities onto your partner and vice versa. “You are so critical”, for example.
10.You began to relive your childhood pain.
11.In pain, you reached for protective measures learned in childhood(distancing, avoiding, pursuing, criticizing, blaming, fighting) which hurt your partner.
12.In pain, your partner reached for similar protective measures, which hurt you.
13.This mutual pain replaced sexual attraction, bliss, joy, fun and hope.
14.You lost hope, and began fantasizing about a life without each other.

And here we are. And here are your options:

1.Stay and fight.
2.Stay and live cold parallel lives as roommates.
3.Leave (and start over with someone new).
4.Get conscious and intentional. In the process, you will grow, and grow up.

Conflict is growth trying to happen. You cannot change your partner, but you CAN and should change your treatment of your partner. The interesting thing about this is that when you begin to treat your partner with behavioral, caring love and respect, expressing appreciations, and a desire to be a better person, your partner likely begins to change, also.

Understand you are both trying to get your needs met, the first one being safety. Be that source of safety and watch what happens. Maybe not immediately, but eventually, you will see the defensiveness be replaced by appreciation and caring behaviors, as well.

But don’t do it for the reason of seeing your partner change. Do it because it’s the high road. Remember, this is growth trying to happen. Growth looks like you being the most patient, loving, caring, tender, respectful, considerate, thoughtful, safe person you can be for your partner. This is the high road, and it becomes you, I promise you.

Yes, you can divorce.  You can split up your home, your friends, your assets, fight for custody, spend $30K – $50K starting over, only to learn the same lesson with someone new. Or you can spend a FRACTION of that in a workshop or an Imago Therapist’s office, learning to communicate your needs in ways that don’t hurt your partner.

This is not about finding the right person; it’s about becoming a better person.

Jeannie Ingram specializes in Couples and Marriage Counseling, Imago Relationship Therapy, Individual Therapy, and Coaching. 

© Jeannie Ingram - Nashville

4525 Harding Pike, Suite 200, Nashville, TN 37205

404.444.1058 

ingram.jeannie@gmail.com

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