We receive a lot of emails from people, asking for relationship advice. And common questions that we get asked are: “Should I leave?” or “How do you know when enough is enough.”
And those are questions that I just can’t answer for a person. (But, of course if there is abuse…I would say to leave and get to a safe place.) I don’t know how to answer that question for another person, especially when I’ve only read a paragraph or a few sentences about their situation. For the most part, that’s an answer that each person has to come up with on their own.
Even a counselor is not going to out right tell you to leave. I went to “couples” counseling a few times when I was in a relationship ( we were not married.) The guy I was dating was not good to me and I was extremely unhappy. And that counselor never once said: “that fool is dragging you down…cut that zero.” But she did help me to focus on what I needed in order to be happy. And she helped think things through so that I could come to my own conclusion and so that I could see how to do things differently.
Once I asked our friend and relationship expert, Aiyze Ma’at, from BlackLoveandMarriage.com, how long would you stay in a bad relationship. Would you stick around and tough it out for 20, 30, or 40 years with a person? And what he said stuck with me. He said:
“Sometimes, you have to know when to fold them.”
That answer is so simple…but deep. To me, the two most important words in that answer are YOU and KNOW.
So this is what I tell people (which is my opinion because I am no counselor.) You have to make sure that you have done all that you can do before leaving your marriage….and when you’ve done that..then do some more. Because, next to your relationship with God, your marriage is the most important relationship that you will have on this earth.
I personally know couples that were going through tough times in their relationships…and the only thing they could think about was separating..and getting a divorce. But when I asked them if they went to counseling or if they sought help…they said: “no.” It was like they were stuck…stuck in the misery and could not see their way out. They could not fathom being in a happy and loving relationship with their spouse. They could only see one option…that was to get out. Sadly, I’ve seen people get out…only to want to get back in after it was too late.
I’ve been reading a great book by Dr. Gary Chapman called Desperate Marriages – Moving Toward Hope and Healing in your relationship. And on page 23, Dr. Chapman says the following about divorce:
“Through the years I have counseled enough divorced persons to know that while divorce removes some pressures, it creates a host of others. I am not naive enough to suggest that divorce can be eliminated from the human landscape. I am saying, however, that divorce should be the last possible alternative. It should be preceded by every effort at reconciling differences, dealing with issues, and solving problems.”
Dr. Chapman asks people to reject certain myths that they believe about marriage and to take positive actions towards change in their relationships. In the book, Dr. Chapman will help you to realize that: people can change, that staying and being miserable OR getting a divorce are not the only two options that you have in your marriage, and that your situation is not hopeless. Yes, even if your are dealing with an irresponsible spouse, a spouse that is a workaholic, an unfaithful spouse, or a depressed spouse, you can find solutions that can save your marriage.
I’ve seen it myself with the couples that appear in our latest movie, Still Standing. Those couples were able to overcome dire financial issues, communication difficulties, and yes….even infidelity. But it took work…and some times that work starts with you taking positive actions towards changing your situation.
BMWK – Do you think that couples are throwing in the towel and getting divorces before exhausting all of their options? Do you believe that couples can survive and be happy…even after going through major adversities?
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