MarriageMarriage Counseling

Which Is Easier: Quitting Your Marriage, Or Fixing It?

By January 4, 2018 No Comments

quit or fix

I’ll give you my short answer right up front – In the long run, it’s much, much easier to make your marriage work than to give up on it.

That probably sounds counterintuitive, especially if you’re in the middle of the messy daily slog of a damaged relationship. And it runs counter to what you’ll hear from many of my marriage-counseling colleagues too:

Don’t feel guilty about ending the marriage; there is no shame in divorce. Ever.
Walk away if you feel it’s time.
If you feel you would be a better version of yourself without your partner, then go.
If you are miserable, it is better for you both to walk away…give
 each other the chance to experience a new beginning.

I grieve when I hear these.

Marriage is a sacred contract for good reason ''I grieve when I hear someone say it’s easier to end a marriage than try to save it''. Click To Tweet

Would you go into a business partnership with someone you thought might walk away at any moment? Of course not. You make a contract holding both of you accountable to not letting this happen.

In business, we contract. In marriage, we commit.

We commit to work through the problems in sickness and in health.

We commit even though some days our spouse is a jerk.  And on the days we’re the jerk.

We commit whether all our needs are being met. Or not.

We commit knowing there will be days we simply do not feel the love.

We commit because marriage is more than a contract. It’s a pathway to living up to who we want to be. ''In business we contract. In marriage, we commit''. Click To Tweet

If you quit, what will you miss?

This may not be the feel good answer you want to hear,  but when you endure hard days in your marriage, you grow.

Every marriage has potential walk-away moments.  In fact, any relationship of depth has those moments. Mine certainly has.  Yours will too.  Leaving may feel like a quick fix,  but in the long run, it doesn’t solve the problem. Or make your life better.  If you leave, you’ll simply repeat the destructive cycle over and over again, missing out on the growth that comes from enduring the hard days.

Growth comes from productive pain.

I teach my clients that un-productive pain is the cycle in which nothing changes or gets better. It just hurts.  If you’re unhappy with your marriage and considering divorce, that’s probably where you are right now.

Productive pain is similar to losing 20 pounds. You make the decision. You start to restrict your calories and increase your activity. It’s hard but you stick with it, working through the pain to get your desired result. You grow from productive pain. It has a purpose.

''Productive pain is pain with a purpose''. Click To Tweet

Now am I saying every marriage can be saved? Absolutely not.

If there is ongoing abuse, you need to leave the relationship. But most marriages can be saved.  And not just saved to survive. They can become partnerships of healing – for yourself and others.

Let’s be clear: There are painful times ahead

But let’s choose productive pain over the unproductive kind.  One ends in personal growth, a stronger marriage, and a deep connection that lasts. The other ends in agony, divorce, and a likely repeat of this vicious cycle.

The commitment is worth it. I’ve seen it in my life and the lives of friends and family. When things get hard, I’m going to honor my commitment and fight for my marriage. The alternative is far worse.

If you feel the same, but don’t know how to make your pain productive,  give us a call or schedule an appointment with us online. We can help you figure out what’s going on in your marriage and teach you how to fight for it.

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  • Jack says:

    My wife left me after years of me ignoring there was even a problem but before she started a relationship with another man. I tried everything to get her back – to prove to her I was listening to her – but instead of proving to her that I could be different, it proved to her I was still not listening to her. She just wanted out. About 2 years of utter hell, I’m closing on the divorce I still don’t want and will probably lose my job because I lost my focus at my job and like with my wife, I’ve lost all confidence with my employers. I don’t want to give up, but at this point, it’ll be easier if I give up then continue to work on a marriage that my wife does not want.

    • Kim Bowen says:

      Jack, my heart breaks for you. You are in a tough place. Over my years in practice, I’ve talked to many clients who have had to face a similar reality. I cannot tell you whether “giving up” is the right answer or not. That is a decision only you are qualified to make for yourself. That said, whether your wife decides to reinvest in the marriage or not, your goal should be to make yourself a better you going forward. To understand the past and how it impacts your present. And to make changes that will positively impact your future and how others experience being in relationship with you. These are all things my coaches teach their clients. If you’d like to talk to a coach and see how our services would be a good fit, please call my office and ask to arrange for a free consultation. I wish you better days ahead. Warmly, Kim

      • Jack says:

        thanks, Kim! I am in a much better place than where I was when my wife decided to leave me. It’s a constant struggle not to regress and go back to who I was. Once the divorce is finalized and I find a different job, I will be able to breath again. Hopefully I will be able to heal and be able to let go of my resentment and any hope. I don’t wish the resentment and my love for my soon to be ex wife to consume me. Once I have that breathing room, it will be easier to work on me – which I have been slowly doing.

    • D says:

      Sounds like how my situation is heading. He cheated. He can come up with every reason why it is my fault and not his and all I want is to try and save our marriage. He wants no part of it or he says he doesn’t know what he wants. It has been 7 months tomorrow that I found out and he left. He started marriage counseling with me in October but I don’t even know why. He is living with his father away from the kids and I. I have asked him many times if divorce is what he wants and I get “I don’t know what I want right now.” The marriage counselor asked him too. Same answer. Marriage counselor said, “do you want her to do it, so you can blame her?” He said, no. He said something to the effect that he is doing counseling to “help me through this.”. If he wants to help, he should try. He should give her up and try. I did not schedule another appointment after the last one in December. Not sure it is worth my time or the money right now. The kids won’t talk to him (thankfully they are old enough to know what is going on and won’t be custody issues if there is divorce.) My focus is zero. I don’t want to give up either. I don’t want the life back that I had because things have changed now for sure but I want my husband back. I committed to us. 22 years together and 20 years of marriage… poof. Problem is, I am starting to think that he is too far gone. My heart is broken.

      • Kim Bowen says:

        Hi Dawn. I read your post and a couple of things came to mind. First, your counselor may very well be on to something with regard to why your husband is sitting on the fence. Often the affair partner, regardless of how “happy” he/she thinks they are in the new relationship, is riddled with shame and guilt for the destruction they’ve caused in their family. It may very well be true that he’s waiting and hoping for you to make the decision to divorce to ease his guilt and shame. And two, I’d encourage you to read my post on ultimatums and how to use them effectively to protect yourself and fight for what you want and need in your marriage. Don’t give up your power and let him dictate alone the future of your marriage. I’ve got a coach on my staff who I think would be a great fit to walk this path with you and help you make some of these tough decisions ahead. Her name is Sara Snyder. If you’d like to arrange for a free consultation with her, please call my office and my admin will be happy to help set that up for you. Best wishes to you, Dawn. Kim

    • Jim says:

      I know how you feel. My wife decided to divorce me because she was unhappy and didn’t agree with my faith. I tried hard to save the marriage, but nothing I did ever helped and probably just pushed her away more. I really think that once she made up her mind, she would never reconsider… I tried for years. She continually said that I did not listen to her (when I would try to fix things and she just wanted me to give up). We divorced almost 15 months ago. 5 Months ago I was laid off from my job of 23 years (I think due to my distractions during the separation/divorce)… I made mistakes and admitted them, but she never took any blame for anything. I stood for my marriage and prayed and prayed and did whatever I could, but still nothing. I even had what I felt were messages of restoration. As you said, all that did was cement her belief that I did not do what she wanted and would not listen to her. The pain and difficulty continues after divorce. However, I am better now that I have accepted it and am trying to move on. I still would like to be married and feel our kids would be better off, but it does take two. A year ago I would have said stand for the marriage at all costs, but now I just don’t know. Not all marriages can be saved. Once I have accepted that, things have gotten a bit easier. The positive is that my faith is stronger now and I am changed in a good way. My daughter even told me today that I have changed. That I do not get angry as easily and I depend on God more and she likes the changes. That is encouragement at least. I am still sad a lot, but that will get better with time.

      • Kim Bowen says:

        Jim, it sounds like you’ve done a lot of soul searching on what has been a tough season in your life. To hear your daughter say she sees a positive change in you is a testament to the work you’ve done and should be encouraging to you. I wish you continued better days ahead. Thank you for taking the time to share your story. Warmly, Kim

  • Jeremy says:

    After 15 years of marriage, i catch my wife in an affair, she says the I love u but not in love speach, refuses to stop communication with other man, says she married her best friend and thought that would be enough, says has no passion for me or wanting, maybe never. Says can’t see this relationship moving forward and wants a divorce. We have 3 kids and I am destroyed. It’s all moving so fast, we barEly talk, I did everything wrong, the begging pleaded, the arguments, we went to couple counseling meetings and on th e second she said didn’t see as and couple anymore. Our communication has been bad, there is more to her story of a painful youth, bad back and years of pain meds, which she is now off and healthier then ever. But now I am just tossed away with no chance of a second chance. How can this be, I need help.

    • Kim Bowen says:

      Jeremy, I am sorry. I hear stories similar to yours weekly and it never gets easlier. Affairs cause so much pain and destruction, not only for the spouse left behind, but for the family as a whole and believe it or not, the spouse involved in the affair. As tough as it sounds, I encourage you to keep your focus on you and the things you can do to improve and positively influence your life and those of your 3 kids. That may also include setting boundaries on what behavior you’ll tolerate. Healthy boundaries are to protect you. That should always be the focus with boundaries. We can help you with all these items. My coaches work with clients daily who are facing similar life experiences. Please call if you’d like some help. Wishing you better days ahead, Kim.

  • Elyssa says:

    One day in late February of this year, after a fight that he started, ruining my birthday and embarrassing me in front of friends, my Husband decided he was just done with our marriage. Yes, we’d had some struggles with communication, in the bedroom and I had always struggled with the way he argued, turning all blame onto me, regardless of what the topic was. I figured one day we’d just snap out of this phase and get back to the spontaneous, fun, affectionate couple we once were. Before that was able to happen, he just decided…without any solutions or second chances…that he was done.
    Fast forward 8 months and I am still living with him in this emotional limbo, fighting for us every day and telling him that I love him and I am here when he changes his mind. I gave him space for months. Now he wants to move out right before the holidays with no care for how our 7 year old son (or I) will react. It’s heartbreaking and I feel crushing hopelessness daily. He hasn’t touched me in 6 months and we haven’t had sex in 9, but he swears he hasn’t cheated. We struggled with our sex life after my son was born and I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I don’t feel like he ever truly supported me through my illness and just passed it off as laziness and me emasculating him and making him feel unwanted because of my lack of sex drive. He started talking to a mutual friend of ours a little too much for my liking in June/July. She was attractive and freshly divorced and our kids were friends. She stopped calling and texting me about play dates and later I found out she had called him 23 times in one month and exchanged hundreds of texts. He still swears nothing happened, but in the least, it was inappropriate and what I would call an emotional affair. He admitted that he confided in her about our marriage problems, so to me that’s betrayal.
    I’m at a loss and I don’t know what to do to get through to him? He finally agreed to marriage counseling after 9 months of him pushing me away, but I fear it’s too late.
    We were always “the couple” everyone strives to be. He would always tell me that we didn’t need to surround ourselves with a bunch of people because we actually liked each other. He’s my best friend and the love of my life. He once told me the same, but now he winces away when I even try to touch him. I am horrible in dealing with loss and I have no idea how I’m going to get through this. I can only hope counseling awakens something in him that I can’t. I’ve tried almost everything and it seems to just make him even more angry and distant. I feel like he’s turned me into a desperate stalker, when I’m just trying to do the right thing and keep my family together. Terribly heartbroken.