Divorce is such a disheartening concept. One moment you are vowing to spend the rest of your life with another person who vows to spend theirs with you—through thick and thin, the good, the bad, the ugly, in sickness, and in health (which includes mental illness by the way...), for better, or for worse. Then, one day, one or the both of you decided that this vow was conditional—with the condition that 'I am happy...' in the fine print.
When one becomes unhappy in their relationship, all the questions and doubts come to the surface. Did we make a mistake? Are we compatible? Is there someone better out there for me? It is such a shame that such dark questions can follow such vows?
The problem comes when we believe our happiness is rooted in another relationship outside of our relationship with ourselves. When we begin looking for someone else's actions, beliefs, opinions, values, or perspectives to affirm our sense of happiness or security, we fail ourselves. We exclude ourselves from experiencing truly unconditional love that comes within the vows of marriage.
I acknowledge that there are circumstances when you perceive that your partner has been in violation of your marriage vows, maybe even multiple times, and this may give you the sense that the vows are voided through these actions. This may absolutely be the case! So then, I ask you, what is it that allows some couples to stay together even after the vows of marriage have been violated? What is the quality of a person to say, "Even though I have reason to void our contract, I choose to move forward with the terms of it." My observation is that it comes down to three main qualities:
To heal in a marriage, trust is a necessity. Trust is the absolute foundation of any relationship, and when it is broken, the relationship can quickly and easily deteriorate. The good news is that trust can be rebuilt. It takes time, recommitment, and a lot of effort, but it can be done. Trust must be rebuilt so that one partner can trust that they will not have to feel pain to a similar extent. When that happens, the relationship is free to flourish.
Next, to heal in marriage there must be courage. Courage is rooted in trust and determines how willing you are to allow someone the opportunity to continue to hurt you. Let me distinguish this from trust: Trust allows you to believe that you will not be hurt in a similar way; courage allows you to believe that when you are hurt again (which is inevitable in any relationship to some extent new or long-term) you will have the strength to bear the pain. If you do not take the time to rebuild trust and heal, you will not have the courage to fathom being hurt in any way by that person ever again. The only logical decision seems to be divorce.
Clarity is the final quality that I will address. This is an all-encompassing term that includes trust, courage, and a plethora of other valuable characteristics which are present in a successful relationship. This entails an understanding of not only your partner, but also a deep understanding of one's self. This means that you understand the capabilities, limits, shortcomings, and accomplishments of you and your partner. When you have this clarity, you acknowledge your worth and the value, that is your partner, in relation to your own sense of self-worth. It could be seen as negligent to have clarity in one's self without clarity in the other.
That said, it could be helpful to talk with a mental health professional or relationship/marriage counselor to help you gain the necessary clarity before voiding a marriage contract and concluding divorce is the best or only option.
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