"YOU NEED TO LEAVE HIM!"
Have you heard this before? “You need to leave him!” Maybe you have even said it! Our society has gotten to the point that if things don’t go well in a marriage, the best way to take care of the problem is to end it and find someone else, and many of our friends and family agree. "You should just leave him!" or "You should just leave her!" "You deserve to be happy!"
I believe that packing up and leaving is not the solution. There are 3 things that I want to propose to you when it comes to this way of thinking. It's a very challenging position to be in, and at times, extremely difficult to make this decision.
I get it! You are ticked off and hurt because he is not the person you married. She is not the wife she used to be. "He's changed!" "She's changed!" "A lot of my friends say, dump him and move on. You deserve to be happy." The situation is a lot more complicated. You are not giving away a dog that you no longer want and getting a new puppy. You have invested a lot of time, effort, and emotions. This is a BIG DEAL! So, what do you do?
There are 3 things that need to be considered.
"He/She has Changed!"
I realize it is difficult when someone you married has changed over the years in ways that are negative and have caused many issues in the relationship. This does happen in many instances and requires that person to recognize these discrepancies and find ways to work through them.
However, there are things that you must consider. These changes, are they recent changes or are they quirks that have been there since the beginning of the marriage, and now, they are just annoying? Has he always done that? Did she bring this behavior into the marriage? Here is a question I ask every couple before they get married. "Can you marry this person just the way he/she is right now without changing anything about him/her?" If you have to think about this question or you are not for sure, DO NOT get married until you have a conversation. You do not want to get a few months or years into your marriage and then start trying to change their behaviors. People don't change habits that easily.
Now, most everyone would tell you that they want to change things about themselves. There is no doubt that everyone needs to change something in their life. But, what if this particular behavior, attitude, habit, or addiction that concerns you never goes away? Are you okay with that? You might have to live with this from now on. If what you are reading bothers you, and if you are thinking about marrying this person, reconsider until it is worked out. You must have a hard conversation.
Change is not the problem. Everyone likes change. It's the process of change, that's problem.
Okay, so you are already in the marriage and you are thinking about giving up and terminating the relationship because of this problem. What do you do? Well, I say re-think your response before you end something that can be fixed. Save yourself and the people around you a lot of heartache and repair it. "But you don't know what I am having to deal with; he is not the same person I married." I understand that you are frustrated, but most everyone has changed somewhat and none of us are exactly the person we were a few years ago. We all have things we need to change. "Well then, how can I change him. Because if he doesn't change, I'm leaving!"
Let me say this, no one can change anyone. You can't change your mate any more than he or she can change you. As I said before, most people do want to change. Change is not the problem. Everyone likes change. It's the process of change, that's problem.
The idea is not to minimize the problem in your marriage. Don't discount that there needs to be a change. However, go about the process with a soft approach and if the person you married loved you at one time and you were in love with her or him, change can happen. When you walk into the room and he or she is distant or has initiated some kind of attack, a softer approach to the way you speak or confront the situation will change the atmosphere of the room in a positive way. This may not fix everything for now, but it will change the environment. If the problem is more than just an attitude and there is abuse, seek counsel and remove yourself to a safe place. If there is a threat of danger, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or contact your local abuse center.
"I Don't Love Him/Her Anymore"
I have been in the room with many couples when one has said, "I don't love him anymore!" Many times, one of the two has already checked out of the relationship and the only reason he or she is there is to prove to the other one that, "Hey, I tried!" Well, if you want to call it trying.
I used to think that people just don't fall out of love with each other. In fact, I thought that wasn't possible. If you fell in love years ago, that feeling would never go away and you would always have a love for them no matter what. Even if the two separated or divorced, the love would still be there for the rest of their lives. Well, I have found this to be untrue; people do fall out of love. When couples stop doing the necessary things over an extended period of time to show the other person love, he or she will eventually fall out of love.
Let me use this analogy. You have a fuel tank on your car. That tank must have fuel in it for the car to operate. Without fuel, the car will not be able to go anywhere. Once you fill the tank, there is a gauge on the dash that will indicate the level of fuel remaining. Now, for some, when it gets to the 1/4 mark, he or she will fill it back up. However, there are those who will let the low-level light come on and then put more in. Some will push the limit and wait until the indicator is below the empty mark. This is dangerous unless you don't mind walking.
A person's love is like a fuel tank; it needs to have a continuous supply of love communicating behaviors (fuel). Love communicating behaviors are intentional actions by each person that shows their mate that they love them. Even though you are in conflict, you still have a cup of coffee sitting on the cabinet waiting for her. Just because you feel upset over an argument, you still make that special snack for him during the football game. Even when I am a little put out because of something my wife said, I still open the car door for her. In every relationship there has to be intentional behaviors to keep the love tank full. Each individual has indicators that show their tank needs to be filled. These indicators are signs that we need to be mindful of to keep love alive and the tank full.
When the empty light comes on, the couple has now entered the danger-zone. How do we recognize the light? You will see the hurt, the frustration, the emptiness, and the loneliness in his or her expressions. This is a critical point for the relationship. It has been too long since love has been shown in some way. I have seen marriages that have failed at this point while others barely hang on.
Behaviors of love do not follow the feelings of love. Feelings of love follow behaviors of love.
Listen, you may not feel much love right now and feel your love tank is empty, but there is hope. If your mate can start filling the tank, you can be full of love again. I know you are hurt and you think it is impossible, but don't give up on your marriage just because of a feeling! I know your emotions are high. In marriage, it is not always a feeling that keeps it alive. There are many times I'm not feeling a lot of love. I may be upset and ticked off about something. This is why my relationship with my wife is not just about a feeling. Behaviors of love do not follow the feelings of love. Feelings of love follow behaviors of love. We show love no matter how we feel.
Through a process of love behaviors, you can start feeling love once again. Just like the old song by The Righteous Brothers, "You lost that lovin' feelin' Whoa, that lovin' feelin' You lost that lovin' feelin' Now it's gone, gone, gone, woh." When we bring back the behaviors of love it will, "Bring back that lovin' feelin' Whoa, that lovin' feelin' Bring back that lovin' feelin' 'Cause it's gone, gone, gone."
"You Deserve to be Happy!"
I think everybody should be happy. It would be miserable to go through life unhappy. But, let's take a look for a moment and talk about happiness. What really makes you happy? Does a whole lot of money make you happy? How about if you won the lottery, would that make you happy? If you had a new car, would that make you happy? What about if your husband or wife treated you better, would that make you happy?
It takes more than things or promises to bring about happiness. You must choose to be happy!
Most of these things are great! Zig Zigler says, "Money isn't the most important thing in life, but it's reasonably close to oxygen on the 'gotta have it' scale." He also says, “Money will buy you a bed, but not a good night's sleep, a house but not a home, a companion but not a friend." It takes more than things or promises to bring about happiness. You must choose to be happy!
I never understood why a good friend who says they care so much for a person would say, "You need to leave him; You deserve to be happy!" If you have a friend that has told you this, the first thing you need to do is find a new friend or put up a boundary. This person is not a good friend. If this were an awesome, trustworthy, loyal, sincere friend, he or she would have said,
Do everything in your power to restore your marriage. Your relationship with the one you made a vow to many years ago is the one you have the best chance with. Rekindle your love for your marriage. You can do this! Don't let your marriage fail. I'll be right here with you, encouraging you, loving you, motivating you, and when you need it, I'll be the one handing you a Kleenex. But, don't give up and don't give in; you both can do this.
You do deserve to be happy! But, letting your marriage fail is not happiness. It brings about many, many other challenges and heartaches. You might feel like it would be better to just end it and start over. Listen, stats prove it,
40% - 50% of first marriages fail. Over 60% of second marriages fail and over 70% of third marriages fail. If the data were available, I would imagine fourth or fifth marriages have a 75% plus failure rate. Your first marriage is the best chance you have for marital success!
Your first marriage is the best chance you have for marital success!
Your marriage is important to you both, and it is important to others around you as well. When a couple is having problems and are in distress, it affects more than just the couple; it affects other systems. The kids, parents, siblings, and friends are affected. Don't let your marriage fail! You CAN rebuild your relationship. Talk through the changes that need to happen. Talk about it, don't just let the conversation die. Find out what love behaviors each of you need to feel loved. Create happiness. Happiness is not automatic; it is generated.