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Option One: Do Nothing


kamurj

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Excerpted from
Conscious Divorce: Ending a Marriage with Integrity
By Susan Allison

After hearing the messages of the intuition, you have many options. One choice is not to choose at all but to put away your journal and do nothing. Be aware that this decision may come from fear. Our realizations are so scary, so revolutionary that we cannot face them. We consciously choose homeostasis, to have stability and normalcy. Our marriage may not be ideal or even good, but it is familiar and we are used to it. This is one reason people stay in relationships, even abusive ones, longer than they should. What is known is somehow comforting, and the unknown can seem terrifying. Don't forget, however, that you chose to read this book for a reason. If you sense that there are problems in your marriage, or you feel unhappy in some way, these initial feelings will not disappear. In taking the intuition survey, perhaps you've realized you want changes in your marriage or your spouse. Unless you act on this discovery, your relationship will continue as it is, and you will still have misgivings even if you try not to.

In my own marriage, I stayed for twenty-six years. I wasn't physically abused, but I was neglected. My husband traveled three months a year, while I cared for our children and juggled home and career. When he didn't travel, he worked six days a week as well as evenings, while the children and I spent time together. As I became aware of my own needs as a woman and parent, I realized I no longer wanted to be married to someone who was physically and emotionally absent. But it took me a quarter of a century to act on this realization. One woman, Jade, was married for forty-six years and lived with an alcoholic all this time. Her own children, other family, and friends told her she deserved more, but she wasn't ready to leave her husband. It took a trip with a friend to help her gain the perspective and the courage to leave, which she did upon returning home.

Lana is still with her husband of eighteen years, but she is talking to friends and family about leaving. She has known for at least ten years that she needs to leave, but it is only now that she feels the courage and the support to do so. Constance was married to her first husband for twenty-two years and says she stayed twenty years too long. Finally, she left when their two children were grown, and she has been in a fulfilling second marriage for the past twelve years. II you are choosing to stay and do nothing at this point, it is understandable. However, inaction can be a kind of death. The longer we remain in rigid roles and patterns that no longer have meaning, the more depressed and powerless we feel. To choose, to act, to change, is to feel alive.

Option Two: Stay and Change

Another choice is to stay and recommit to the relationship. After doing the exercises, you realize there is hope for your marriage. You do not want to separate or divorce. What you want is change. Perhaps you hoped that thinking about divorce and even discussing it with your spouse would bring about the improvement you want. Be careful not to threaten your partner with something you don't really want to do. This could backfire and cause you tremendous unhappiness. Attorney Laika Grant Mann advises, "If you don't really want a divorce, but what you want is change, then don't threaten your partner with divorce so he or she will shape up. I've seen so many clients, mostly women, who tell their husbands they want them to change or they're getting a divorce, and the men say, 'fine.' They move out, find someone else very quickly, and the wives are crying in my office about not really getting what they wanted" It would be wiser to talk to your spouse about how you're feeling, ask him or her to go to therapy, and work on your marriage. For those of you who wish to stay in an existing marriage, thousands of books and clinicians exist to help you. Briefly, I am including some suggestions here.

At tills point, relief may be the prominent emotion, relief that the marriage is not ending, the relationship is not dead but only in need of revitalization. Be careful not to be lulled into false optimism. The reasons that first drove you to read this book, to do these exercises, still exist and must be addressed if change and progress are to occur. Furthermore, you have been reading, writing, and feeling deep feelings about your marriage and partner while reading this book. Perhaps you have been trying to decide whether to stay in your relationship for many weeks, months, or years. Has your spouse been doing the same? If he or she has been on a similar course, including sharing these insights with you, then the prognosis is good. Talk to one another; share these realizations; compare notes on what you want in a relationship. Perhaps go to a therapist or continue to see one, and talk about these issues.

Overall, what is important is communication, lots of it. Chapter 2, Clear Communication, presents ways to talk to one another and get results. You can agree to spend more time together, plan a trip, make love in new places, and whatever else works. The keys are willingness, determination, and action. A marriage and family therapist agrees: "Whatever you first loved in your partner is still there, still exists. All you need to do is rediscover it."

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