Would you stay in a loveless marriage for the sake of your kids?
It's been a year since my best friend separated, after nearly 20 years of marriage. She married young and probably for the wrong reasons. They have three kids between the ages of 12 and 16.
Over the years, they'd grown apart, they fell out of love, there was no intimacy and they no longer shares common interests or goals. Their differences have become irreconcilable. Fighting rather than communicating dominates their relationship and they've lost respect for one another. Despite all of these signs that to me say "leave," for a year, my friend has been going back and forth trying to decide whether she should get a divorce or get back together. Although she says she loves him, she's obviously no longer in love.
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I realize this is probably the most difficult decision she's ever had to make. But it's time for her to move forward with her life!
A few of us got together with her last week to convince her to schedule a meeting with her husband so that they could make a decision. We created an agenda for the meeting so that they could discuss the two options: get back together or divorce. We told her she would first have to think about the pros and cons, as well as criteria and goals for both options.
But as we started to ask her questions around "getting back together," we realized that her responses were focused on convenience rather than love, on the kids rather than her needs as a woman, and companionship rather than a partnership that provides emotional support. Her biggest fear is to be alone. Finances are not a factor since she's the bread winner (this is yet another factor that contributes to their issues).
If she stays in a loveless relationship, a marriage of convenience, what message is she sending her kids on what marriage means? What if she meets a man while they're together? She's not going to bring him home if she's still married?
My friend is smart, dynamic and one of the strongest women I've ever met. Yet, her situation has killed her self-esteem, her guilt has consumed her, and her indecisiveness has paralyzed her. Physically she's beautiful yet she looks haggard. Regardless of what the outcome is, she has to make a decision so she and her family can move forward with the healing and their new lives.
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