Questioning your marriage: To stay or not to stay?
By Dr. Janne A. Lomasky, PsyD and Danielle Jacobs, LMHC
If you are considering divorce, you may feel like you are trying to keep your head above water. Are you constantly struggling to prevent yourself from going under? Do you lay awake in bed, confused and angry, suffering cold sweats, palpitations and racing thoughts, while the agonizing question of “to stay or not to stay” looms like a dark cloud? Needless to say, this is beyond stressful. Of course, the toxic lining of those dark clouds is the potentially devastating effect of divorce on the children who often suffer the emotional brunt of such marital strife.
Whether it is anger and frustration, or sadness and loneliness, these feelings are difficult to endure for long periods of time. Feeling in limbo, sitting on the fence, or not knowing which road to take makes you feel stuck and quite frankly “sick”. You may feel like the deer that stands on the road in the night, looking at the headlights of a car approaching and freeze, unable to move or escape. You simply feel helpless.
Many years ago, people would stay together for forty to fifty years. When you speak with married people in their seventies or eighties you often hear: “you didn’t divorce in our day”, ”divorce was not an option”, or, “where was I going to go?”. Maintaining the marriage at all costs was motivated by time of era, religious beliefs, family influence, tradition or culture. Back in those days, people stayed married despite financial hardships, infidelity, abuse or overall unhappiness.
As therapists, we have seen couples staying together in the most unbearable circumstances. A couple, married for fifty years, with a history of infidelity, domestic violence, alcohol abuse and the police at their house regularly, still stayed together after years of counseling, self help books and retreats. One day, in private practice, during an emotionally charged couples’ session, the husband lifted up his cane to hit his wife and instead by accident hit the therapist. The couple continued in therapy for over a year, still fighting and arguing but never divorced. This is a perfect example of people who are taking their vows very seriously.
Nowadays, some couples are divorcing only 72-days after exchanging vows (think about the well televised wedding of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries). Divorce is more common because of the changes in our society. There are a number of factors that impact our decision to divorce, such as validation from the media, Internet, friends, family, and women in the workplace. It’s more acceptable to get a divorce. Financial stress, infidelity, differences in childrearing practices, conflicts with extended families, substance abuse, emotional and mental abuse, irreconcilable differences are all now valid reasons to get a divorce.
For example, a couple in counseling reported getting married and divorcing each other three times. He was divorcing her because of his dislike of her taste of home décor and her cooking. For her it was his constant lack of compliments, his use of profanity and his traveling without her that made her throw the ring back three times. In essence, whether it is sleeping around, having a real life-boxing match in your own home or having bad breath, each individual has a choice to either stay in the marriage or file for divorce
We encourage people to work on themselves and their relationships and marriages. To maintain healthy relationships, to resolve any bumps along the road, one must try all solutions; effective communication, self help workbooks, marital counseling, and individual therapy to name a few. We recommend trying all options at least once, and possibly twice (to go that extra mile) before throwing in the towel.
Marriage is not always the classic Cinderella “fairy tale”, where she meets her prince, he saves her and they live happily ever after. Marriage requires hard work at times, including sweat and tears (and hopefully no blood(shed)). When all else fails, fortunately divorce is an option and you don’t have to live “unhappily ever after”.
The authors of this article have written a self-help workbook, called To Stay or Not to Stay?. The workbook is designed for both husbands and wives to guide them step-by-step in the decision to stay married or file for divorce. In each chapter, the reader is encouraged to examine the quality of their marriage and acquire a wide variety of new coping skills through various exercises provided. The reader will feel empowered throughout the book to be honest and introspective to gain clarity of mind. Readers will be able to identify with personal real life stories of people who walked in their shoes. The book is available on Amazon.
Dr. Janne’ Lomasky is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Hypnotherapist, Author and a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator. She received her Masters’ and Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D) from Carlos Albizu University, known for being a multicultural University located in Miami, Florida. A multicultural experience has afforded Dr. Lomasky the knowledge and experience to work with and understand people of various cultures. She is a member of both the American Psychological Association, and Florida Psychological Association. She also holds a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.
Dr. Janne A. Lomasky, PsyD
Danielle Jacobs, LMHC
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