For some couples the word -marriage’ is a sentence – a life sentence. Sometimes no matter how hard one or both of the partners try, there comes a time when it’s better to admit defeat and walk away. This does not mean, however, that after the first upset couples should simply toss in the towel – but after all avenues have been explored and there is still no solution in sight, it could be a better decision to agree to end the marriage.
The decision to dissolve a marriage must never be taken lightly and it’s definitely worth taking time out to consider all the choices and options. Some may believe that by staying in an unhappy or turbulent marriage they are doing their children a favour, however this is often not correct as children tend to be more affected by constant arguments and fights than they would be by divorce.
Enough is enough…
During any marriage, or any relationship for that matter, there will come a time when one partner (or both partners) may feel that they cannot continue any longer. For some, within a few days or weeks the problems are resolved and the relationship continues. Since couples make a commitment to each other and to their marriage in their wedding vows – -for better or for worse and they feel that they are obliged to do whatever is necessary and whatever it takes to make the marriage work. There are some cases where no matter how much work and effort is put into the relationship, the issues are too large to overcome and a man or a woman says -enough is enough!
Enough is enough when:
- You feel as though you are always walking on eggshells – your partner is always moody and is continually looking for a fight;
- You are living in fear of abuse (either mental or physical abuse);
- Your spouse attempts to keep you isolated and stops you from seeing or interacting with your family or with your friends;
- Your partner controls every aspect of your life and you feel suffocated or as if you have no say in your own life (e.g. controlling money, etc);
- You are always making excuses for your partner’s poor behaviour;
- If you find yourself asking the question over and over again -Why am I still here?
Why a marriage fails
Abuse is faced by thousands of South African families on a daily basis. Abuse is not just physical; abuse can also be emotional, verbal and sexual mistreatment. Women as well as men who are in an abusive relationship live in a constant state of fear and it may take many years for them to find the courage that’s needed to eventually walk away from an abusive partner. The abuse does not stop unless action is taken! For an abuser to leave the marriage they need to have faith in themselves and they need to have a good support system in place. We all have the right to be protected legally and an abused victim is urged to report all cases of abuse to the police or to the courts. FAMSA offers counselling to the abused and to their families and they’ll provide sound advice on how an abused man or woman can receive the assistance they require.
Extra-marital affairs also take a tremendous toll on a relationship and men and women may struggle to forgive each other and they may be reluctant to make the marriage work. Apart from the impact of the actual affair, the partner who has been cheated on is forced to deal with dozens of emotional issues and some could find it challenging to overcome these issues, and to this end, find it difficult to remain in the relationship. If both partners are committed to the marriage and if both parties realise that changes have to be made, the marriage can work. Both need to come to the realisation that they and the marriage will not be the same as it was before the affair. The couple has changed because of the extra-marital affair and a different type of relationship is needed. In other words the marriage needs to be re-negotiated and the couple will need to learn to talk about issues openly and honestly and share their feelings with each other. It’s important for the couple to try to figure out what went wrong in the marriage and each person has to accept their share of responsibility for the role that they played in the breakdown of the marriage. In order to work through the crisis, couples should try not to criticise, blame or punish but rather attempt to build the relationship on real and solid forgiveness and choosing to let go of the anger, pain and sadness.
If partners have a real love for each other, the majority of problems can be overcome and can be worked through. The thing is that both partners have to be genuinely committed to change and they need to make a conscious decision to leave the pain and hurt of the past – in the past.
When marriage prevents you from being someone you like, and when a relationship is preventing you from getting all you want out of life and if you find that you’re continually doing all the work and your spouse is ignoring the problems that exist in the marriage and the toll that the problems are having on you, you deserve better! You are free to live life as you choose. You are free to live a life that gives you joy, peace of mind and emotional fulfilment. The decision to give up on a marriage that is unhealthy is not an easy one but if there is truly no hope in sight – it may be time to call it quits.
One of the avenues to explore when couples feel that they are at the end of the line is marriage counselling. Therapy or counselling is by no means a magic solution to a bad marriage but it’s able to provide couples with the tools they need to deal with future disagreements, problems or issues. No marriage is perfect – humans are imperfect to begin with and the union of a man and woman is not without its difficulties but when two individuals realise that they need help and seek the help they require, they will both be strengthening the ties that bind and they will be looking to find positive and constructive ways to make their union a success.
Couples, who wait too long before finding help, may find that it’s too late and counselling will not help to fix a marriage that’s beyond repair. If one or both partners see no other solution but to get a divorce – counselling will also not be beneficial. For counselling to work, both parties have to be determined to want their marriage to work.